The Edge of the Fall
Jacob opened the front door of his home, stepping into the cool and gusty sea air he so greeted each day. His walk, a 30 yard length; had grown more taxing with each passing year. Not the fresh and blissful reverend he once was, Jacob had grown solemn in his later years. Around his eyes and forehead had appeared deep rigid lines branching out towards the edges of a hardened and tense face. It was not the face of a man who brought people to God anymore, it was instead, one that had watched so many go to Him.
After the first ten paces it was routine to glance over his left shoulder, and find the end of the wind, a hundreds of foot tall bluff, where gusts rushed toward, and then dropped to the beach and ocean. A paltry and over-grown grouping of gravestones belied the character of the chapel and Jacob’s property, one of solitude and meagre faith; something eerily beautiful and poignant to visitors and tourists but cathartic for Jacob’s life.
“Oh Rich, Richie I’m so sorry bud.” Jacob sounded as if he was pleading.
It was something Jacob had been mumbling to himself for almost 2 decades on this same walk, his life filled with routines that all promised meaning; this routine came from a deeper part of his own conscious and with it more emotion than Jacob could sometimes stand. It was not uncommon for Jacob to sometimes stop, or fall to his knees sobbing dryly for a few minutes time. Like much of himself, Jacob had lost his tears, the salty streams would wet the dry fissures of his likeness no more.
Today Jacob maintained his pace and continued towards the front door to the Chapel.
Throughout the years Jacob had often quipped to many congregations about the North Eastern seasons, and how the short periods of pristine and heavenly beauty in spring and summer, were often longly punctuated by what felt like a perpetually grey and never-ending fall and winter. On this day the gray sky catapulted leaves and dust swirling through the air and towards the bluff, acting as some waterfall for the wind to follow. There was an appreciable beauty in the decay, the building itself left unpainted, and largely empty for some time now. The chapel had become his own sanctuary, full of less emotional routines and purpose that Jacob needed. At one point the vestry had been well kept, painted beautifully and constantly maintained by a gifted carpenter James Keenan. The pews always perfectly aligned, yet without the red velvet so many people associate with a modern church pew. Abigail, Jacob’s wife, had always found the velvet and gold ornaments distasteful and blasphemous; a point Jacob found himself in agreement with. James had not let the lack of gold or red velvet stand in the way of making the church rustically beautiful, with the help of a shipwreck’s worth of wood James had made very detailed, almost skeletal, framing under the roof, with spiraling and bent wood stained dark and rubbed smooth through hours of dedicated labor.
In the years since James patronage had ended much of the articulate work he left behind remained, yet the sea air had a habit of stripping away the exterior paint, and warping the planks of wood in ways that made the exterior resemble the location of a horror film or a long forgotten part of the past. The pews were simple, similar to anything you’d commonly find in a building of a church like this, but in the ends faces were engraved bible verses in spectacularly skilled Old English lettering.
On this morning Jacob stopped at the 4th pew from the door, his eyes darted towards the verse unfinished on the pew face as a familiar and dreadful feeling over came him.
Behold I stand at the door and knock...
“If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jacob’s voice quavered with fear.
“James you never finished the goddamned verse, you just left it there incomplete, Richie just pops in and out, never allowing me to forget, or push out the memory of burying him and watching Abbie leave!”
Jacob was on his knees now, with clenched fists, shaking and tightening his own face in an all too common grimace that had taken as his likeness.
He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder, and the small moment of comfort erupted into terror. The vision, no the ghost; of his son was returned. A test of his own faith, and a mockery of his religion Jacob stood abruptly in disgust striding toward the pulpit with his head down. His mind sputtered frantically, questioning his own sanity, when would these visions end, when would the dreams end, when would he finally escape the mental repercussions of his son’s death and Abbie’s departure?
Richard spoke, “I brought these flowers for Mom, I won’t leave them at the bluff anymore, I’ll sit them here.”
Jacob spat, “Abbie’s been gone two decades now Richie, your flowers will wither and die without purpose, like me and this building.”
“Why won’t you just leave me...”
Jacob was standing now at the front of the pulpit, both hands supporting his weight, still keeping his head down to avoid confronting the vision of his son, who he was now conversing with. Jacob was losing his mind.
“You never left my heart son, or my mind, but I cannot keep seeing you like this, it’s weakening me, making me bitter.”
Richard did not respond, and Jacob turned around to see a bouquet of beautiful lilacs, Abbie’s favorite, laying on the pew tied in a white ribbon. In a purposeful manner Jacob snatched the flowers from the pew and exited the building to a downpour, stomping toward the bluffs very edge.