"Look you don’t have to do this. I know it’s hard, but this is something you don’t want to do. Okay?"
Asking if she were okay really wasn’t the best question to ask in this situation. In fact there probably wasn’t a right question to ask. The only thing Mark could do was look on.
"I can’t stand working here anymore. I just don’t want to do it. If I were to go back there today, or even tomorrow, I just couldn’t handle it," Joan said while digging her fingers into the rock ledge above her head. Her face was soaked with tears. "Please don’t make me go back there ever again, just don’t."
"Joan, you have to listen to me, relax." Mark took a step onto the ledge Joan was standing on. His eyeballs looked down at the crashing waves hitting the side of the mountain. There were jagged rocks and a small sandy beach was down there as well, though it didn’t look to be the type of place you would take your family for a vacation. He grips onto the slippery rock only to make sure there was no way he was going to fall. Smacking into the ground down there would hurt like hell.
"Why should I listen to you? All you have ever done is screamed at me. I don’t want to go back in there and listen to you. Don’t you understand? I don’t like that place anymore."
"I know I’ve screamed at you, and I really regret every second of it, but being up here isn’t the way you want to handle this. You have to believe me when I tell you this. Jumping off of this rock isn’t going to do you any good."
He takes a deep breath in. The air seemed thin all of the way up here, and the seagulls flying around were dropping their bird poop all over the place. Mark had a horrible thought of one of those white bombs hitting him right on the top of the head. He cringed at the idea, but his mind focused back onto Joan who is dangling on the edge of the cliff.
"I don’t care about anything anymore, I just don’t care. I can’t go back to that place, to work there, I just can’t. I know that you want me to work there, but I just don’t want to do that kind of work for the rest of my life. Don’t you understand? It’s a horrible place to work and there are way too many problems."
Her fingers dig into the rock above her head even tighter. It was as if her subconscious was trying to keep her from falling. Deep down in her mind there was something that wanted to stay alive, but the thought of ending it all was too tantalizing for her, that thought overpowered her subconscious. It was her subconscious that told her to go back to work, that told her to get down off of this cliff and return to the safety of her job. There wouldn’t be any chance of her falling down and dying in there. She would be safe, but now as she stands here looking down at the roaring waves of the ocean, and the jagged rocks sticking up from the ground, she dangles one of her feet over the edge. Her white slipper is ready to fall off of her dangling foot, and she wonders what it would be like to fall down there, to fall to her death and never have to work again.
Her eyes grow wide.
"What about your dog? What about Rocky?" Mark said. He was still gripping onto the rock making sure he wasn’t going to fall. His other hand was raised toward Joan. He wanted to reach out and grab her, to bring her back away from the edge where she would be safe. But if he couldn’t grab onto her fast enough before she fell…
She would fall…
Mark thought bringing up Rocky would help change her mind. Maybe if he were to remind her of the dog she was so fond over she wouldn’t jump. Reminding her of Rocky would let her know that if she were to go through with it, Rocky wouldn’t have anyone to take care of him. Most likely there would be somebody stepping in to take care of the poor pooch, but telling her that wouldn’t help with anything, but it would put the image of poor Rocky home alone all by himself in her head.
Her eyes let loose some tears as she thought about her dog.
"Oh… Rocky…" She said as her white slipper fell from her dangling foot. She watches the shoe fall for what seems like forever, and then finally crashing into a large rock at the bottom. That would be the place where her body would land. The thought of her head breaking open on that stone entered her mind. She didn’t like that image, but she also hated the thought of going back in there to work. But none of that compared to the thought of her dog being lonely, that poor animal.
"Yes, that’s right. Don’t forget about Rocky. Would you really want anything to happen to that sweet dog? If you were to do this, you would be leaving him all alone. There would be nobody at all for him, and you know the worst part?"
She turns her head looking back at Mark.
"Rocky would feel abandoned," Mark said. Joan whimpered at the thought. She turned her head back toward the waves. "He would feel like you left him Joan. Do you want him to feel like that? He’ll wait for you to return, and you never will. You won’t return to him because you would be splattered all over the rocks down there." He points.
A tear rolled down her cheek finally dripping off of her chin. It went over the cliff traveling down toward the rocks below. She watches that tear until if finally shattered apart with a hard smack.
"I love that dog. I don’t want to leave him alone, never. If anything were to ever happen to him… I don’t know what I would do."
She closes her eyes as she brings her foot back onto the ledge she was standing on. She had to think long and hard. She thought about her dog Rocky waking up in the morning. He would be in his bed upstairs on the second floor. He would get up out of that bed and walk down the stairs for the kitchen. Next to the sink would be his food dish that would normally be filled to the brim by Joan. It would be a large bowl of dry dog food soaked in warm water. There would be hot dog chunks cut up in there which she knew he loved.
But on this morning…
On this morning there would be no food for Rocky. He would walk over to his empty dish and sniff it. He would be wondering where his food was at, and why wasn’t his owner here? She was always here for him, but on this morning she wasn’t, and he was here all by himself with no food.
"He would look for me…"
Yes he would look for her. Rocky would leave the kitchen searching the entire house for her. He would look into every room for his favorite person in the world. He would bark, but there would be no reply. He would whine, but there would be no Joan walking toward him trying to find out why he was whining. She wouldn’t be there for him, she would be gone, and he would bark for her.
He would bark for a long time in that big empty house…
And then he would go back upstairs to bed. He would sleep the days away hoping that one day his owner would return. Hoping that she would return with a great big hug for him. And one final thought entered Joan’s mind while she was thinking about all of this. In her mind she sees her dog Rocky sitting next to his empty food dish in the kitchen. He has his head down wondering if he would ever get to eat again.
"Oh Rocky… I could never do that to you, not my baby."
Mark smiles when he hears this. He watches as Joan lowers her arms from the rock ledge she was gripping onto. She slowly sits down while leaning against the hard rock wall.
"Joan, I think it would be best if you were to give me your hand. You should come back in here where it’s safe, where you’ll be safe. There is no need for you to be sitting out there on that cliff."
He holds his hand out hoping that Joan will take it. There is a good chance that all of this was over, and when she was finally back inside of the cave she could go back to work. Yes that would be good, she would go back to work and continue making the company money. The expensive and rare metal in this cave needed to be dug out by somebody, so why not her? Sure she was mentally unstable and most likely would succeed in killing herself in the future, but for now she could get back to work and make the company just a little bit more.
"I’m telling you I don’t think I can last too much longer in there. My body is really starting to hurt, my back feels so horrible. If I continue on like this… please don’t make me go back to work." She was rubbing her back with her hand showing how much pain she was in. The bruises all over her arms and legs show how hard she works. There were scratches to.
"Joan, if you come back inside with no more issues I can promise that I will go easy on you. You won’t have to work like you have been, I’ll let you rest some."
There was a rather large smile on Mark’s face. He was holding that terrible whip in his right hand. That whip that he has used on the many people who work here. The people who work in this cave for only food, they weren’t getting money, but only the promise that they would be alive to see the following day.
"You really promise me that? You promise that I can rest and heal my wounds?" She smiles at him.
He smiles back.
Sure he would tell her what she wanted to hear. Sure he would say that he would take it easy on her, but that was a lie. As soon as she was securely back inside of the cave he was going to beat her. He was going to take that whip and leave welts across her back. He was going to scream at her, and he was going to make her work a double shift as punishment for disobedience. He was going to make her suffer.
And why not keep the secret of her dog’s death? He would save that for later after she completes her double shift. He would enjoy telling her that.
"Yes, I promise you Joan. If you come back inside now I’ll let you rest. You won’t have to work as hard as you were, and you can go back to your dog, Rocky." He gave her another large smile.
"Okay," she said as she reaches out taking his hand.
"I bet Rocky is missing you. He will be glad to hear your voice again."
He grips her hand pulling her safely inside.