I have decided to randomly take part in a writing challenge, every few days I shall choose a prompt like the one in the title and try and aim for a story that is under 2000 words. Foolish as I am , I have decided that this will somehow be good for my writing skills. Part of the challenge is that I am not allowed to edit it after writing!!! So what is below is as exactly as it came out of my fuddled brain! Excuse my bad grammar or awful punctuation but it is what it is!
Writing prompt ….. I will never regret…..
Image prompt .
She stood on the cliff edge watching over the storming sea, despite the high sun and warm season the breeze was causing goosebumps on her skin, the wind biting at her face. She had stood here so many times watching the horizon for any sign of the returning vessel, it had been weeks since their departure. Nicholas’s last parting words, her lifelong friend, his storming grey eyes full of emotion with uttered goodbyes. She had never found the courage in those moments to tell him how she really felt, she had promised herself that on his return she would tell him, tell him that she loved him in a way that went far beyond friendship. The weeks dragged by and something inside of her told her that he would never return, the sea had claimed many a sailor on the tides of fate. Had the sea claimed her Nicholas too? Her heart empty and broken now as it had been for many an endless day, the eternal ritual of watching the coast in hope that just maybe the god’s would bring him home.
Her blonde hair whipped around her face coming free from her plaited twirls behind her head, her gown wrapping tightly around her legs as though they wished to bind her to this spot. Yet here she stood by free will, day after day after her chores had been done, the herd moved to graze, her eyes steadfast at the dying light of the day longing to see the silhouette of that returning ship. She gathered the small bundle of heather around her ankles like she always did and pushed it into her waistband of her long skirts.
When darkness overcame she walked back towards the lower grounds, back towards the Croft. Her mother would be waiting for her to bring their evening meal together, she was so sick nowadays, barely able to tend to very much since the passing of her father. When her mother was gone, soon she knew, then she would be alone in the world and left to fend for herself. This thought had never scared her more than with the absence of him, he had been her savior, her rock when her world fell apart. What would she do if he truly had been taken by the sea gods to dwell with the merfolks of legend deep beneath the ocean? She clutched to the simple pendant around her neck, a carved wooden mermaid, he had made for her on a simple leather thong and felt that ache of despair once more. A parting gift wrapped in the softest cloth and given with the last words he had ever said to her.
‘Anna, This will remind you of me until I can be back here by your side….. to protect you while I am not able to’ he had brought his forehead to hers and closed his eyes as though he had wanted to inhale her smell, wrapping his arms around her for a short embrace before steadying her on her own feet.
‘I love it, it’s beautiful Nicholas, I shall always wear it’ she had pulled it from its wrapping and immediately put it on, holding it close to her heart. Her smile bright and true and mirrored in his handsome face. She had allowed her fingers to run through his fair hair one last time as she had always done as a child, tousling it fondly.
‘I will be with you as long as you have it with you’ he had grinned at her , stroking his knuckles across her cheek, a swift kiss followed on her temple and then he was gone. She had longed to shout after him, to find the courage to say the words but she could not. Watching the strong muscular man who was no longer a boy walk away from her towards the awaiting men and boat she had been afraid. Afraid that he would not feel the same way she did. She had stood by the harbor waving them off, men on an adventure to trade with surrounding islands to bring some prosperity back to their own little corner of the world. Thirty of them had left that day, men who had families and responsibilities on this tiny rock in the ocean and none had returned.
The croft up ahead was dimly lit, the animals already bedded down in the grass around the single building, they had wandered home without her today. She had stayed far longer than ever before, something inside of her just needing him to be there on the sea so badly that she could not tear herself away this night. Her long heavy dress caught in the overgrown grass and weighted her down achingly. Her heart of late had been giving up on her, her spirit and optimism fading, she did not know how much longer she could find the will to carry out these tasks alone, take care of this tumbledown building and her shell of a mother. She pushed open the door to reveal her sitting in her usual spot, rocking in the chair by the dwindling fire and wrapped in heavy blankets. The smell of stew wafting towards them surprised Anna, she had managed to cook today, she had managed to move from her chair. Her mother’s eyes were closed and she hummed a soft melody to herself lost somewhere between sleep and consciousness, Anna left her be. Stripping off her cloak and hanging it near the fire to warm, she set about dishing herself food. She noted that her mother had made a vast pot, more than they needed, more than she would normally prepare. The waste irritated her, this would go off before they could eat most of it, her mother was never normally so careless.
Taking her bowl she ate quickly, anxious to finish her ritual for the night, she finally lifted her now warmer cloak and returned it to her shoulders. She headed out into the dark lifting a lantern already bright with a glowing candle inside and walked the short distance to the darkened building not far from her. Nicholas’s home. His own family had died off just as hers was doing now, the recent droughts had affected crops and harvests and people had gotten sick with malnutrition. Things were improving, summer rains had come, the soil bringing forth some success, the fishing boats weathering storms and coming in with better catches of late. She stood by the building, her heart heavy with longing. To miss someone the way she missed him was almost like a pathway to death in itself, a heart-wrenching pain that followed you even in light.
‘I love you Nicholas’ she said aloud into he darkness, walking forward to lay a hand on the door nailed shut at his departure, she pulled the heather from her waistband and tucked them in beside the previous ones which were now blowing into disrepair. ‘come back to me’. The tear rolled down her cheek, her hand staying on the cold wood. This was as close to him as she could be anymore, the dwelling that had once been his, it still held the memory of his presence like a ghost, all those years they had grown together, lived side by side, every special precious moment of friendship and him in her life.
‘I will never regret falling in love with you even if you never return….. even if my heart never heals’ she whispered finally to the silent door. The creaking of the building surrounded her, the wind moving in fast from the shore tonight. Soon summer would be gone and the hardship would begin, bringing a cold harsher time ahead.
Walking back towards her own croft Anna felt that pull towards the cliffs more than normal, it was late and the moon was high but something inside of her urged her steps to walk wide of their destination. Finding herself back on that grassy well-worn path to her vantage point instead of going home.
‘One last time’ she told herself and then she would let him go, she would stop coming here and try to think of getting through the winter without her mother falling by the wayside too. Maybe that is why she had stayed longer this day, her mind made up, her heart in acceptance that he was truly gone. She followed the path carefully, her lantern giving very little light and finally blowing out as the gales lifted her cloak and hair viciously around her. There was a storm brewing again, much like the one which had come about hours after her Nicholas had set sail, she had cried every night since then knowing the chances of shipwreck had been high. Finally resting her feet on the edge of the cliff, unafraid that she would be blown off she looked up to the moon and cried her last tears. She would mourn him for an eternity, she would remember him always but she would no longer come and gaze endlessly letting her life slip away. One last look at the horizon and she turned away angrily, she would stop this, she would not hope, stop this stupid ritual. Her heart breaking for the thousands time she turned to walk away, the sea had been illuminated by the bright moonlight tonight. A tug within her urged her to look one last time, a glance, nothing more than a flicker of a look to say goodbye to her familiar spot above the waves and harsh rocks. She turned to go her body halting. Her eyes snapping back to the horizon…What had she seen? What had her subconscious alerted her to? She could see nothing but rising waves and dangerous peaks of rocks in the distance, a fog moving in. She turned to go again yet this time her breath halted in her chest…..there was shadowy shape in the distance moving slowly closer…. larger than the rocks but so far in the fog it could not be distinguished. She narrowed her eyes and stared out to sea, her vision blurring as the wind assaulted them. It was only then that she saw it, slowly getting clearer , a dark shadowy looming vessel with a mast held high and draped with billowing sails………