He whispered her name, more breath than sound, afraid the universe would hear him and mock his pain.
Eddie trudged through his apartment roughly grabbing his gear; throwing it onto the brown leather couch which still held imprints of her, of them, from days gone by when things were good; when loving was on couches & on countertops; on balconies & in backyards...
He kicked the offending couch which refused to give up on her, her imprint etched deep, her scent clinging to coarse fabric. Gold tendrils remained woven in blankets and rugs; hiding out in every nook and cranny of the apartment.
He threw his backpack onto the heap causing a ruckus as spray cans crashed together with a ping and a plastic cap of bright yellow rolled under the TV trolley.
"Bugger!" he cursed falling to his knees trying to reach under the unit to find the runaway cap. His hand came up empty; covered in dust and dirt.
Lola loved to clean.
And Lola left.
He wiped his hands on his jeans and dove back in, feeling the rough edge of the cap with his fingertips. He grabbed it out and propped it back on the can, "#UCK" would look good in gold. He smiled at that and it surprised him cos Eddie hadn't smiled in months.
He walked towards the mirror wanting to see if there were small signs of the old-Eddie there, but the smile had faded faster than a street artist at the sound of sirens.
The cans clanged together in his bag - 4 colours should do, he didn't want his bag weighed down; he had a long walk before he got to the quarry.
He added black - needed the black for her name- black like her heart, black like her soul - "lola" written with a flourish.
He swung the backpack over his shoulder; it weighed on him, solid, clingy.
"Should've taken her photo out of the frame," he said out loud, the ornate silver was solid, a gift from her in their first year together.
The backpack hugged him like a possessive child, afraid to let go, separation anxiety a real thing.
"No more delays," he chided himself, it was nearly 7 and soon the roads in Vredehoek would be bursting with families leaving for work and school.
His plan was to hit the trail behind the spiked walls of the city apartments before they emerged.
The wind howled an agonising lament; if he opened his mouth, that same sound would be heard echoing from deep within him. The South Easter was putting on a spectacular performance for the city dwellers oblivious to it's magic. He looked out of his second floor apartment window towards Table Mountain and saw the mist rolling in, the white soft like cotton candy enveloping it, making the mountain disappear. He wondered what it would taste like. He licked his lips.
Lola tasting of salt, her scent intoxicating.
Lola in white with the sun at her back laughing. Her throaty laughter loud and unedited on their balcony. The wind lifting the skirt of her sundress and his eyes falling on caramel skin left golden from a Sunday spent on 4th Beach.
Her skin feeling warm under his touch, every part of him alive.
"Baby, you are going to be my undoing," he said, more sure of that than anything.
"What I am going to undo," she said each word deliberately, looking slightly drunk, "is your jeans!"
She laughed at that, finding pleasure in herself, and he dragged her indoors, slamming the door shut on the neighbours.
Eddie grabbed his bag and raced out of the apartment that held onto her; leaving his keys behind. He donned his peak cap and set off towards the path leading to the quarry.
He bumbed into Norman his neighbour on his way out; Norm was dragging his little mutt behind him.
The little dog yapped at Eddie's heels, happy to see him.
Eddie bent down and stroked him: "Hello, little buddy," he said,
"Out for a hike?" Norm enquired, "no work today?"
"Something like that," Eddie said, deliberately vague.
"Have a good one, Ed!" he waved goodbye.
"Catch you on the flipside, buddy!" he whispered to Chocolate. Chocolate cocked his head not liking sad-Eddie.
He kept his head down, taking the path at a brisk pace, skirting bushes, planting feet firmly on solid rock, he knew this path well. Squinting he could barely make out the arches of the Quarry through the thick mist on the mountaintop. The dank smell greeting him as he made his way inside, reminded him of rot and ruin. He grabbed for his flashlight, the dark closing in on him. Stumbling over uneven surfaces, Eddie swore and cursed as he felt the walls closing in on him.
The light broke through and he could see the rockface, a blank page waiting for his hand.
He began his work.
A man on a mission.
A man in misery.
Making sure she got the message.
Added the NR last.
She would know, and she would suffer knowing.
Drained, Eddie hiked to the top and found the spot. Swinging his legs over the cliff, he felt the South Easter pushing at him from where he sat dangling precariously at the edge.
Strange, he thought he'd feel anything but peaceful at the edge of reason.
Eddie decided he'd give himself time to enjoy this sense of calm.
He turned around, looking up at Table Mountain.
It was his rock.
Rock solid, it anchored him.
From out of the mist of his majestic mountain, a jogger emerged her ponytail whipped up behind her, her feet purposefully hitting the ground.
She stopped when she caught sight of him.
"Hi there," she called out, "you're not thinking of jumping, are you? You'll ruin this place for me, if you did."
"Hey!" he stammered.
She plonked herself down on the sharp edge next to him, she was tiny and he was afraid she would hurtle towards the bottom.
"Crazy this wind," she said, "a force to be reckoned with..."
They sat in silence, minutes ticking by.
Sliding on her bum she moved back and got to her feet, taking the silver frame from him.
She reached out her hand to him, and he grabbed hold. With a strength that surprised him, she pulled him up.
"Time to take a leap..." she smiled.
"Of faith," she said handing him the frame.
"Let her go!"
He took the frame from her and flung Lola over the edge.
Lola disappeared, the mist grabbing her, spiriting her away.
He turned back to the runner with a smile.
"No regrets," she said, and set off to finish her run leaving Eddie to wonder how he was going to get back into his apartment.
A cry of relief rang out and the South Easter carried it away down trails and roads of tar to where the Mother City was waiting to welcome him back.