This is an excerpt from an unpublished novel.
You have to wake up early to beat the summer sun around here. I must have fallen asleep before 9 last night. Dark meant it wasn’t even 6 yet. By 6:00 the far side of the lake would already have a glow behind it as the sun rose.
Yup; clock on my phone said 5:50. I felt restless, anxious. I wandered from room to room as I drank a mug of coffee. Felt like I was looking for something that I knew wasn’t there.
The neat columns of boxes here and there, the big empty spaces where I had nothing, the quiet and dark drove me out.
A run was still the best way to clear my head, morning or evening. I paced myself to let the thoughts percolate and dissipate. I know you can’t go around the grieving process, you have to go through it. Doesn’t make it any less painful. At least I could be doing something I loved as it happened to me.
The slower pace took me farther than my sprint had yesterday. I realized I was running around the south end of the lake, running toward the sunrise. The trees thinned, and I could see more of the pink behind. It was as if the sun were making a sound, a rushing sound like water. I knew I’d drifted away from the lake by now, farther south. I couldn’t see water to the left at all, just the gentle slope down from the little ridge I ran along.
The sparse grass and dirt gave way to flat rock, shale, maybe, like the places I ran in Ireland. Hard on the legs, but here I expected it to turn back to springy soft forest floor again.
Instead, it turned into nothing at all.
If I’d been running any faster I’d have gone right over the edge. The rushing sound I’d been hearing was the lake pouring out through the narrow outlet Mrs. Wright had mentioned. I slid to a stop at the sharp edge of the rock. The water scrambled through an eight-foot-wide channel, pressed by the rock walls.
It was probably deep enough that if I’d fallen, I wouldn’t have been injured by hitting bottom, but water is powerful. When you’ve been slammed by ocean waves in California you develop a healthy respect for it. The best case scenario would involve being dragged downstream far longer than I wanted to walk back wet.
The other side of the chasm looked different. Sycamore or elm or something like that instead of pines. Approaching from the other side wouldn’t have been as frightening. The shale had broken off and was a foot lower than this side. You’d probably notice the gap.
It would also help that it was clear, not covered with pine needles like this side. Pine needles on smooth rock are slippery as ice.
It didn’t look too wide to jump, but the slippery edge made me too nervous to try it.
I wasn’t going any farther around the lake this morning, so I turned around and headed home.