arms wide, eyes shut

“Why is it so fleeting?” she asked from the edge.

I shrugged, but her back was to me, so I said, “We’re not meant to be trapped in happiness.” Head resting against rough bark, I closed my left eye, watching her through the right.

Her bare toes curled into the sand of the cliff, dipping under gnarled fingers of roots. “Trapped? What a sinister way to describe happiness.” She looked over her bare shoulder, “Pain isn’t fleeting. Are we meant to be trapped in pain?”

I switched eyes. The left eye caught the shimmer of the ocean past her silhouette. “Sharp pain is fleeting. It’s the dull pain that sticks around, and we endure. We’re adaptable creatures, us humans.” I plucked at the green poking through the grains of sand, now watching her with both eyes open.

“Well.” She pirouetted. “I think I am going to fall.” then, “I’m scared. I know the fall will be exhilarating, but eventually I’m going to reach bottom.” Hands thrown out, hair caught by the ocean breeze, she added, “And that’s going to hurt.”

I stood, pushing off from the tree, “Of course it’ll hurt.”

A grin, a step back, arms wavering for balance, and her words, “You won’t stop me?”

“You never stopped me.” Over her shoulder, I could see the ocean, “Besides, it’s not the possible pain that makes the fall so frightening.” I smiled and met her eyes as she leaned into the breeze, “It’s not knowing how far you have to go.”

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