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Image by Mohamed Almari

‘Sunrise Cliff’

Erin and Ernie had been lovers for seven years. To rekindle their romance, the couple undertook a predawn pilgrimage to Sunrise Cliff, renowned for its autumnal beauty. The promontory, facing east over a sheer drop of 800 feet, opened to a panorama of multi-colored wilderness below and hills beyond. Viewed best at dawn. Ernie led the way, negotiating the uphill track on the cliff’s wooded western slope with his customary assertiveness, his boots finding the firmest hold at every step in the cone of light from his headlamp. Erin followed with less enthusiasm, this climb a microcosm of their life, seven years of headlong rush that never slowed to enjoy the moment.

Erin’s boot slipped sideways on a slanted root, and she fell to one knee. With more annoyance than concern, Ernie called back, “You alright?”

“Yes. Keep going. Don’t want to get off our precious schedule.”

“No need for sarcasm.”

Up the path floated added commentary from Erin. “You know, we’re supposed to be rekindling.”

Right,” came the downhill rejoinder, “but how does that happen if we don’t get there on time? We have—” Ernie looked at the fluorescent hands of his watch. “—eighteen minutes.”

The couple surged upward and, with four minutes to spare, broke from the woods, their headlamps probing the jagged eastern drop-off. Beyond the void, the onset of dawn back-lit distant hilltops.

“Shall we?” said Ernie. He switched off his lamp and approached the edge of the cliff, stopping a foot from its vertical eighth-of-a-mile plunge. He edged his boots forward another few inches, as far as his puckering posterior allowed.

Erin wet her lips and followed, halting at Ernie’s right. Her left hand found the small of his back as Ernie settled his right palm on her right shoulder blade. The sky shifted from midnight blue to morning azure. A moment later, the sun peered over the distant hills, setting the lowlands aglow in yellows and reds, and splashing splendor on the barren face of Sunrise Cliff.

Robert Perron is the author of a novel, The Blue House Raid. His past life includes high-tech and military service. His short stories have appeared in various literary journals such as The Bombay Review and Lowestoft Chronicle. He lives in New York City and New Hampshire. Visit his website at


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