Monday 17 June 2024

'Leaving' by Belinda Rimmer

Sometimes people come here to leave prayer flags or gifts, they leave the gifts – chocolates, trinkets, books – on a rock, the prayer flags they tie to the branches of a nearby oak, for their relatives, their friends and lovers, I should imagine, and sometimes they tell me to take what I need, and sometimes they say, why be alone when we’d be happy to stay and talk, but I always politely decline their acts of kindness.

The people who come with their gifts and prayer flags have become familiar but not one has asked me to clear out, move on, or why I’m here in the first place – they can see I’m taking good care of the place, the way I’ve built a bed, and the candles I’ve brought to light at dusk.

I’ve made it sound idyllic, the birdsong, the peace, the people calling round, and it is, mostly, but there are days when I just want to scream – why me?

I think this place feels like heaven, how I imagine heaven, I think that’s what I like best about it, the solitude, you wouldn’t want to share heaven, and why is it so wrong to believe that if you’re lucky enough to go to heaven, you’ll go alone.

Before I depart, I’ll leave something of me behind – a sculpted stone, a fallen branch
in the shape of a crocodile, a wildflower garland – I think it will help people to
understand why I’ve chosen to die in a cave.

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