My Cliff

Allison Hall


It is the silence that awakens me. The sound of silence is just too overwhelming. The scream of sirens, the constant hum of city traffic normally lulls me into a contented city sleep, but out here in the country, left without even a television, I am unable to sleep for more than a few hours at a time.

I climb out of an ancient but extremely comfortable bed and pull on a battered pair of jeans, worn through in the knees. I slip a hooded sweatshirt over the tank top I slept in and throw beaten hiking boots on over warm socks. If I can’t sleep, I might as well watch the sun rise the right way.


I creep out of the little bed and breakfast my travel agent recommended, mindful of the squeaking stairs. It’s still dark but I can already smell meats and pancakes cooking in the small kitchen. The smell wafts through the small building and has my mouth watering. The cook here is the best I have ever come across and her small stature reminds me of my grandmother back in the States.


I trek across the field through the dark. I don’t need a flashlight anymore; I’ve made this trip at least once a day since landing in this country, the country of my ancestors.


Before I know it, I am standing on the top of a cliff on the coast of Ireland. Below me, the ocean rages. The sound of it thunders in my ears. The salty spray from the water below dampens my pale green sweater and my hair, sending my brunette locks into ringlets that had previously been meticulously straightened.


The sky is an inky black and blue but just in the horizon, where the sky meets a calmer sea, there is orange, just the slightest tinge, but it’s there. And as I stand, shivering slightly in the chilly morning air, the grass damp from the night’s dew, I watch the sky come alive. Soon reds and pinks join the orange, black and navy give way to the brightest blue I’ve ever seen. And before I know it, the sun has completely illuminated my cliff. The emerald green of the grass is striking against my battered brown hiking boots.


Behind me, a ravaged castle, centuries abandoned, sits alone, regally watching over my cliff. The dull grays and browns of the stone are foreboding and mean and have weathered the constant spray from the violent sea. The hollowness of the building is painful. It screams for people and yet I am the only one. Behind it, the hills, greener than even the finest emerald, roll and hide for acres. Sheep and cows graze sleepily and I can hear the faint barking of a dog herding his master’s flock.


I leave my lonesome castle and traipse back to the bed and breakfast through the wild Heather, the pale purple standing out vividly against the jade-colored grass. Its scent permeates the air. Rocks are scattered across the countryside and determine my path. This is where my family has come from and I have finally seen it myself.


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