There is a cliff overhanging the ocean off the coast of California, up near Santa Barbara, but a little farther south along the 101. Leading up to the edge is a luscious patch of verdant grass that resembles the rolling waves below as it blows in the constant wind coming off the ocean. At the very edge, however, the grass becomes sparse, disappearing in some locations, revealing a layer of sand covering the rocky ground.
At one time, before the creation of that awful strip of cement known as the 101 highway, the cliff was a highly frequented recreational spot. People brought blankets for picnics and ice cream socials up on the grassy top. Couples would come out early in the mornings to watch the sun crawl out from its nightly slumber, or if they were not early risers, they’d cuddle close, sitting side-by-side as the sun dropped below the horizon. Many a proposal took place up there, and it’s safe to say at least one baby was conceived there as well. It’s been said Martha Sue and her first husband had their wedding reception up there too.
It wasn’t until Joe Dunner threw himself off the edge on a dare, only to crash into the rocks below, that people started questioning the beautiful serenity of this little place. After Joe came his lover, Danny, thinking he could join him in the frothy waves at the bottom of the cliffside. Then came Barb, who had gone to the same high school as Danny and Joe, though she only knew them from the news. She was tired of watching her mother sit idly by as her stepfather beat and raped her. Once Joy Tarranova, newborn baby in hand, dove off the edge people in the towns nearby decided enough was enough and outlawed access to that small, tranquil patch of grass.
Soon after they built the freeway and put up a nice thick railing, so that anyone who felt like pulling over to the side of road and going for a quick jaunt through the grassy patch upon the cliff would not be able to follow such fleeting passions. Photographers still pull over into the shoulder to snap a few pictures, especially at sunset too. Young hipsters too in their high-waisted shorts and flamboyant socks, will whip out their iPhones and put a heavy filter on the stunning tableau before them.
Not even the hipsters tread on the actual cliffside anymore. It’s too far to reach from the side of the highway and there’s no public access from the beaches in the area. That little patch of grass waits patiently for the next brave soul who comes looking for a quiet escape from the reality of daily life. When that day comes the cliff will sing its spellbinding song and lull the observer into a state of longing for what’s next, a longing so strong he or she will be forced to jump out into the open air beyond the edge.
About the Author: Elizabeth Bluth is an NYC-based writer & storyteller, currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School. Though she primarily writes fiction, she also works in other forms including poetry and screenwriting. Her nonfiction has been published in Tote Magazine and The OC Register, and her one-act, While We Wait, was recently chosen for the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative’s SWAN Day Festival. She enjoys hiking and has a pet cat named Astaire. Twitter handle: @elizakbluth