Julia stood on the edge of the cliff, the grass moving softly in the early morning breeze as the sun began to rise. The soft cotton of her dress brushed against her bare legs. Far below her the sea shimmered, waves crashing on the shoreline in a slow steady rhythm. Everything was cast in a warm orange and pink glow, one that spoke of hope and a promise of something new. She closed her eyes.
His arms slipped around her shoulders from behind, tender and loving. She smiled, reaching up to hold his hand against her heart. His head rested on her shoulder, his breath warm against her cheek and his other hand resting on the curve of her stomach. The cool morning air blew a strand of her hair across her face and he tucked it back behind her ear.
“You could still go back, Jules.” His voice was quiet, almost hesitant.
“You don’t really think I’d let someone like you just walk away from me, do you? I’d have to be a fool.”
He laughed, recognising the familiar words. She turned in his arms, reaching up to him. His mouth was soft, his kiss gentle.
They could finally start again, break away from the darkness that had always dogged them and begin anew. It had been easier than she had thought to give it all up. To turn away from everything everyone had told her was her duty, to give up the burdens she had put upon herself as she tried and tried to be what everyone else told her she had to be. It was like she was finally free.
I’ve done enough. Let it go.
For a brief moment she thought of her pack, and she felt a pang of regret. She thought of her parents, the sadness they must feel at losing their daughter again. But this time it was different. This time she wasn’t fleeing. This time it was her choice.
She had never been more certain. They would cope without her. She was sure of that much.
Julia pulled away from Jake. His smile was tender as he looked down at her. His delicate grey eyes were beautiful, and finally clear of something that she hadn’t noticed had always been there until it was gone. He held out his hand to her, stepping back towards the path down the cliff, down to their future. It could be whatever they wanted it to be.
“Where will we go?” she asked.
“Wherever we want to.”
She took his hand.
When she woke up, her face was wet with tears. She didn’t remember why.