With nothing between me and the wind, my skin rippled in the cold, tiny hairs standing on end defiant and in shock.
In this place, there was never sunlight. Every hour of every day had the same bluish-grey crepuscular quality of an early evening in Autumn, the same chill in the air, the same sense of impending descent into nighttime. Thousands of years of instincts were kicking in, telling me to get inside before dark, but I was long past that. A light rain began to fall and soon my thin, cotton dress clung to me, soaked through and hanging in wet drapes to my knees.
Shivering, I wrapped my arms about my body and drew my chin down towards my chest in a futile attempt to conserve warmth. I was killing time. Any moment now I would have to jump. You could only delay these sorts of things for so long. A girl presents herself to a steep cliff, the steep cliff demands that she adhere to the Chekhov's gun dramatic principle and follow through in order for the cliff to have proved a necessary element of the development of the narrative. Why else do characters like me come to places like these if not to jump?
Behind me, the naked greenish-black basaltic rock gave way to the steppe, which disappeared into the mists after a few feet. Though I had come that way, I couldn't remember what I had passed. The steppe stretched for a thousand miles. Had I walked all that way to get here and did I know where I was headed? Somewhere, buried in the mess of memory, was an answer that no longer mattered. Now I was here with blue sky and cliff face and abyss. I had imagined there would be darkness below and that the jump would be more abstract, but I could see the valley floor and the sea as they flitted from state to state, here at the edge of the world. Which was my reality? Was mine the world of the valley floor or of the crashing waves?
The others had told me of the portal but each had described it in her own way. One stepped through a chalkboard into a different classroom, another opened the door of an aeroplane mid-flight and found herself in a tropical jungle. Still others had been on the train and then elsewhere, in the woods and then in a churchyard half a world away, drowning somewhere in the Atlantic and then in a hall at a dance class lying on the floor soaking wet. The others all said they had been blessed, after the singularity event, with the anaesthetic of forgetfulness. Though they couldn't be sure, each had a sense that what they left behind was doomed. I had walked for a thousand miles across the steppe and whatever came next I would tell to another someday, maybe. I had already started the process of forgetting, evidently. I took this as a good sign. When I tried to peer back into my personal history, I found that I didn't remember who I was. All memory had been completely erased. I was just a tiny, cold, carbon-based life form standing barefoot on a big rock. There was a cliff on the far side of the valley but it gave no clues as to where I was. It was just the same void to stone to steppe to mist progression as what was behind me.
"Now, enough fucking around," I said aloud. I looked down at my feet, flexed my toes, and stepped up to the lip. I knew how I wanted this part to go.
I turned and took a few brisk strides towards the mist, then I spun around and sprinted to the edge. The opposite cliff rushed forward and I was a larger field of sensation than just a body - a universe opened up in my belly. There was a split second of total awe and terror and then my feet pushed off the end of the land and I dove forward with my arms stretched wide. I was suspended in the open air, turning around to face the sky and crossing my arms over my chest. Then I fell - not like a stone, but like a seed with a long wing. I fell head first until my feet sped up and overtook. I fell feet first until my head sped up and overtook. I fell end to end in a spiral downwards, colours radiating outwards from my body into the field around me as I made a gentle descent. I watched the sea and the valley as they changed from form to form, deep below in the dreamtime.
I wondered if the Goddess would stretch out a hand and catch me in her palm so softly that I barely noticed, or if I would shatter on the valley floor and become bones to be covered by earth and moss.
Now I was falling, the outcome was beyond what I could control.
Then I knew: I was destined for the dreamtime whatever happened. My breath and my bones belonged to the Goddess and in life, in bardo, or in death the stuff of me was the stuff of her medicine.
I closed my eyes, and to this day I still don't know what happened next.