Short Story: A New Life
When you’re going through change, the world between Before and After is a scary place…
Reading time: 5 mins
You sit on the edge of the cliff, your legs dangling over the edge and nerves fluttering in your stomach. You’re on the cusp of making the biggest decision of your life. You need to do something, anything else, but you feel trapped. You can’t leave the only home you’ve ever known. Change – it’s what you’ve always been afraid of.
But you have this constant ache to do something else. This is with you throughout the day and well into the night. When you dream, it’s of another place where you finally get to do what you want.
The wind ruffles your hair and dives off the jagged edge of the world, tumbling to the thrashing waves below. You take out a small satchel filled with offerings to the people who live in the ocean. The jewellery isn’t worth much, but it’s something.
You roll each item in your hand – whispering a silent prayer – and throw them into the sea. The ocean takes them without any fanfare. They freefall down and then they’re gone.
You take the last piece of jewellery, a necklace containing so many memories, and you remember all the pain and joy you’ve lived through while wearing it. Like that time when you were dancing at that party with that person you liked and the bass was pounding the floor and you were screaming the lyrics to that song that you love and you lost your voice the next day. That moment was fleeting and your life became so boring and you were so stuck and you wanted to scream until you passed out, but you didn’t.
You throw the necklace and it sinks straight down, pulled by the weight of the stone. A hand thrusts out of the ocean and snatches it out of the air.
You swallow, the wad of spit forming a lump in your throat.
A face rises out of the ocean. Their long hair is slick and swirling in the water around them. Their big eyes stare up at you and they roll the stone around in their fingers.
Their other hand reaches up and they gesture for you to join them. Their face is familiar and inviting.
You think about all you’ll be leaving behind if you join them: your family, your friends and all that this life could give you.
You’ll be missing out on so much.
More of them rise out of the ocean. They smile up at you and gesture for you to join them. But you see the ocean beating against the rocks below and you’re not sure.
If you jump you could die.
You remember why you came here in the first place: your dead-end job, your mundane life and all of the things you hate about it. You were so miserable that you spent more time crying in the bathroom – sadness clawing at your insides – then actually living your life.
If you don’t jump then you’ll go back to that life you hate. The life you never wanted.
It’ll be worse than dying.
You pick up your suit case, unsure of why you brought your old life with you (maybe the familiar brings you comfort?) and back up.
You take a breath, feeling the frame of the suitcase pressing against your body, and you run, your legs pumping, your heart thumping so bloody hard and you gasp as you leap over the edge.
You fall straight down. The wind rushes past you and you want to scream, but the air is trapped in your lungs.
The rocks below rise up to meet you and you close your eyes, bracing for the explosion of pain before the end.
Arms wrap around you and you shiver as you’re gently placed into the water. You open your eyes and they’re looking down at you, smiling and your heartbeat slows to a familiar rhythm.
The water laps at your skin, changing you into one of them – someone who can survive out here – and you know that you’re where you belong and that so much life awaits you.
What Anjulie says about her story:
“There’ve been times in my life where I’ve been between Before and After and that is a scary place. Everything is in the air and I don’t know if it’s the right choice until I make it. Leaving something behind can be difficult, but when I think about my life (and if I’d stayed in that Before) I much prefer moving on. My short story A New Life is about the death of an old life and the rebirth into a new one. Once you take that leap, a whole new set of possibilities awaits you…”
Original art: Rosie Moana Pickett