The Lonely Cave. Adult

The Lonely Cave. Adult

A Story by OscarRat
"

Jennie’s secret is revealed.

"
I don't need the rumbling of the surf about a hundred feet below to tell me the ocean is there. Both the smell and feel of ocean spray, even at this height, would give me notice.  The ground is slippery and wet as I hold tightly to a guide-rope, feet slipping on a twenty-degree slope toward my favorite thinking spot.  

The rope was kept dry in a coil at the top of the slope. I keep it hidden, covered with a tarp among bushes.  Although they occasionally slip a few inches, my gloves give me a good grip.  Even through supple leather, I can feel the rope’s strength and sturdy fibers.

Heartbroken and half drunk, I need somewhere to think. In the last hour, during a going away party for my best friend, my own world has turned upside-down and Topsy-turvy.  Senselessly biased would be a better term.

The only place I can be certain of finding solitude on this small Island off the coast of Georgia is my hidden retreat; a cave I found as a little girl.  At that time, I was very athletic and spent a lot of time climbing over the cliffs. My favorite refuge was, and still is, the one I'm headed for now. As far as I know, nobody else is aware of its existence.

Near the bottom edge, the cliff alters to a seventy-degree slope -- not quite a full ninety.  I haven't been here for five or six years and am out of shape, arms already sore from the effort. My ankles are stiff and my hands, my hands ... well, they'll make it.  About halfway down, the spray's hitting my back at intervals as the surf flows in and out. Expectedly, my left foot falls off into space.  Feet finding purchase on a small ledge, I shove myself over a few feet to my right and continue descending.  In a few minutes, I see the cave entrance on my right.  Gingerly, I sidestep until I get both feet onto a wider protrusion.

Funny, the ledge seems smaller than when I was thirteen years old. But then, I'm certainly larger now.

*** 

The party started about four, and I've been drinking since two, so the sun is still up as I bend down to enter the hidden cave.  The first thing that catches my eye is a plastic lawn chair I had so much trouble getting in here. That was before I thought to lower things on another rope, until they were about even with the cave mouth.  

After that, supplies were easy. Lower a basket, then rappel down another rope, unloading it inside from the entrance. I was dumb in those days, I think.  Now, tears flow as I remember my dumb, drunken, statements a while ago. The ones that changed my life.

The chair is rusty, but I brush off spiders and other crud, pulling it to the entrance and sitting down on a cool plastic surface. Remembering something, I go back inside and shuffle junk around until I find a bottle of gin, about four inches or so of alcoholic beverage inside.

I have to laugh as I remember myself at eleven, stealing it from my father's bar in the basement. He'd been drinking the night before and never did miss it. I'd wanted to act grown up and smuggled the bottle and a pilfered pack of Salems to my secret hideaway.

All it took was half a cigarette and one slug of gin to make me swear off both forever. Ha! Too bad I didn't keep to that oath.  At least the gin part. Well, I can certainly use it now. 

A further search produces the Salems, but they're in no way smokable, nothing but a greenish lump inside a torn package. No matter, I have more in my jeans, that package now crushed by my thigh as I negotiated the cliff.

I manage to save a couple, and light up. Leaning back, the squeaking chair almost collapses from my weight. Careful not to move any more than necessary, I uncap the gin.

"Here's to a good life, my love," I yell out to a darkening sky and uninterested ocean while taking a swig. 

My love? Yes, my love. I can finally admit it -- even to myself. The facade has been dropped. The gown dropped from the lady, revealing a clown -- but nobody laughed. Nobody! Not Cheryl, not my father, nor my mother.  Especially not my boyfriend, Tom. Here comes the clown, and there goes the fool. The lovesick fool.

I stare out over the ocean, alcohol hitting my stomach as if a lump of fiery lead.  It mixes with that old booze and threatens to come right back up. I fight the urge, feeling stupid for trying. Yes, foolish to try.  Screw it, I fall over onto my side, off the chair, and throw up my guts onto bare rock. I can't even do that right, I think, a few moments later, wiping alcoholic puke off an arm.

In the fading light, I see nothing but a small pool of gin, stomach acid, and a few feeble glistening strings of something or other. 

My stomach is still upset. Maybe from fear?  Fear to climb back up that cliff, to go in my home -- or what used to be my home. I just dunno, dunno what to do.

"What Can I Do?" I yell out to God or whatever the hell a supreme being might be. "What the f**k CAN I do?"

I break down, crying in my beer -- in this case thrown-up gin.

I lie in the cold breeze for a long time. When I come to my senses, the sun is down, a quarter moon in the sky. The moon is red. Is that a sign for me?  I think back to a couple of hours ago, only a couple of hours ago....

***

All was going well, me much drunker than the rest.  Cheryl and I were sitting in my bedroom, on the edge of the bed, saying goodbye to each other while my parents fixed up the living room for a party. The guests weren't due for hours yet.

"Don't take it so hard, Jennie," she tried to console me. "You'll find a new best friend, but I have to go to Nevada State. It's the best college in my field. And you have to stay here."  

She moved closer on the bed, putting her hand down to pet my right knee. Me and Cheryl have been the best of friends since grade school, even sharing boyfriends. I love her. That's when things went to hell.

I held her hand on my knee, not letting her raise it. Then, I looked into her eyes.  It was like seeing them through a piece of wet glass as hopeful tears flowed. Unthinkingly, I pulled her hand closer, too close, then far too close -- to a secret place.

Cheryl moved. Oh! My god.  She moved -- toward me. She moved to me, into my arms....  Our lips met, like in my dreams….

***

Now, I cry, sobbing so much I can't go on.  I take another drink of the gin, while still half-lying in vomit. I don't have the strength to get up, nor the wish. I think I'll stay here forever, in my secret space. Maybe, just maybe, in a few hundred years someone will find my bones and wonder -- why?  Funny, but right now I wonder -- Why?

***

I, we, heard a noise. I looked up to see both my parents in the doorway. I'll never forget that sight; anger rising on my father's face and my mother leaning against him, eyes covered and turning to look away.

"Wait. Mr. Johnson, it isn't wha ... it isn't.... Oh, Christ," Cheryl pleaded. 

I jumped up and ran. I ran as fast as I could move, through the sliding-glass door, onto the porch, and then here.  My life is finished. I know what my father thinks of dirty queers. God knows he's told me often enough. I'll just have to lie here, alone, for the rest of my life.

Somehow, maybe the drinks, but I sleep.

***

"Jennie."

What was that?

"Jennie."

Where am I?

"Jennie. Are you down there? I see the rope?"

"Yes ... Cheryl?" I yell, or try to. She must hear me.

"Come on up. Everything ‘s all right, Jennie.  Your father is here with me."

I manage to get to my feet. "He'll kill me. He hates queers," I yell back up.

"No, he won't. I'm sorry, Jennie honey, we all love you. Please come back to us." I hear my father.  

I want to cry, but I'm all cried out. My breath comes in gasps and my heart threatens to slam its way out of my chest -- as I reach for the rope, forgetting my gloves. I grab it as tightly as I can, to hurry out and begin a tortuous climb back up to life.

As I struggle a couple of yards up the cliff, I notice my hands -- in fact every muscle in my body, stretched to their limits.  And the rope.  The rope is soaked by spray. With no leather gloves I begin to slip, the rope sliding through tired fingers.

I try to climb as fast as I can, before my fingers get too stiff.  I manage to pull myself over the lip, onto the easier slope, seeing both my father and my lover standing there, waiting.

"Help!  Help me!" I cry, losing feeling in my hands. I can't make my fingers work right and they're so darned sore as I fight to hold on, to keep a grip. The others, at the top, struggle to help pull me in. I'm trying, dear God, I'm try....

The End.
Oscar Rat

© 2019 OscarRat


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One of the best short stories I've read in months & I've been reading a book "America's Best Short Stories 2018" (yours is better than half those). This is a tight package, tons of showing & putting the reader into the feelings strongly. Fresh, original storyline, yet highly relatable as far as this scenario. I love that you don't over-analyze any of this, but just throw it out for each reader to interpret as they see it & feel it. Opening up with climbing down the rope is a strong way to open & the details are realistic & palpable (((HUGS))) Fondly Margie

Posted 5 Months Ago


Since Ted already mentioned the non-rusting plastic chair, I'll leave it alone.

That ending though, I fear that she won't make it, as implied by the unfinished word (and sentence). Also, interesting choice of font there.

There were two minor things, apart from the multiple double-spaces, I found:

1. In the last hour, during a going away party for my best friend, my own world has turned upside-down and Topsy-turvy.

- just wondering why "Topsy-turvy" has the first "T" capitalized but not the second

2. "... Everything ‘s all right, Jennie. ..."

- there's a space before apostrophe-S after "everything"

Posted 6 Months Ago


Interesting story Oscar. I like the way it was told and the premise. The ending was a standout as far as I'm concerned...did she make it or didn't she...good choice to leave it with the reader to decide.
There was a fair bit of detail to hold the interest and you made Jennie very personable...you like her in spite of a few bad choices and sympathize with her dilemma.
The only issue I could see was the plastic lawn chair...plastic doesn't rust...but that is a minor detail.
All in all...a good write.

Posted 7 Months Ago



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Added on November 25, 2019
Last Updated on November 25, 2019
Tags: Fiction, homo, secret

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OscarRat
OscarRat

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What If? What If?

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