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WITNESS

Shooting stars darted across the night sky to a score of distant cicadas. Eliza stood on the outer edge of the railing at the back of the docked cruise ship, but she didn’t jump – not yet. A glow of burning rocks in the black abyss above had given her cause to pause. Had she been the only one who had witnessed the final moments of the meteorites as they sliced through the Earth’s atmosphere? How far had they travelled through the cold vacuum of space before they came to their fateful end? Eliza was pleased someone got to observe the glittering show.

 

From the top deck of the ship, Eliza looked down into the inky water and considered her own fate. A painless deep sleep awaited her at the bottom of the ocean. How she craved the quiet, the nothingness, the void. How she longed to silence the voices in her head who told her she had to be good, do better and accomplish more. If only she’d been more like her sister; pretty, intelligent, likable. Eliza would switch places with her in a heartbeat. Instead, she was caught in a relentless cycle of broken recollections from a drug-fuelled night when the jacarandas had sprinkled hues of violet across the city. What Eliza wouldn’t give to stamp out the toxic thoughts of repulsion that coursed through her veins and stained her soul like red wine on a new white dress.

 

Just like the sharp, jagged rocks that had hurtled through space and time without knowing where they were going, Eliza had lost her way. She had strayed so far from home she could no longer find her way back.

 

Small white crests blurred beneath her and her hands tighten on the rails. How simple it would be to let go.

 

A bright light hurtled above Eliza followed by a shower of space dust that rained down on her and set the whole sky on fire. This spectacular travelling show, which had taken light-years to arrive, was executing a once in a lifetime performance, and Eliza had been given a front-row seat.

 

As the sky burned, everything became crystal clear like a veil had been lifted, and for the first time, Eliza could see with a clarity she had never known before. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she clambered over the railing and fell heavily onto the wooden deck.

 

The universe only asked one thing of her, and that was to bear witness to its miraculous existence. Eliza didn’t have to be or do anything more than observe the gift that came with life itself. She was a spectator to it all; the beauty, the brutality, the realities and the illusions.

 

Eliza was the beholder of miracles and that would always be enough.

The End

© Michelle Upton

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