“Which service do you require?”
“Ambulance,” I grimaced, still half-heartedly performing CPR while trying to talk. “A woman died right in front of me.”
“How long ago?” she asked.
“Just a few minutes,” I replied. “I’m still trying to revive her. Just a moment …” I gave her a lung-full of air. “Okay …”
“Where are you?” the operator asked.
“Parland cliffs, about two miles north of the lighthouse.”
“It’s going to take us at least half an hour to get to you,” she replied.
“Just a second …” another breath, “What about air ambulance?”
“They’re out on an RTA. I’ve dispatched a local crew from Ridborough. May I just take your name and address?”
“Alice Southall. I live in The Bungalow, Parland Springs. Hold on … Still no pulse. She’s bleeding from her ears and nostrils, and her pupils are blown. I don’t think she’s coming back, and I’m starting to get worn out.”
“How did she die?” she asked. “Did she have an accident?”
“She was just standing there, and then she fell over. That was it.”
“Well, keep up the CPR as long as you can. Leave the line open so we can triangulate your exact position.”
“Okay,” I answered, leaving my mobile phone on speaker.
I pumped, 1, 2, 3, etc., then breathed for her. The more I pumped, the more blood dripped. After 10 more minutes, I was spent.
“Are you still there?” I asked my phone.
“Yes, ETA is 19 minutes.”
“I can’t do any more.”
“Thanks for trying,” she replied. “Sounds like it was a hopeless cause. Still better leave your line open.”
It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. I was out walking on the cliffs, and she was just standing there frozen, with her hands to her ears, or more precisely – to her headphones. They were expensive ones, not just your normal ear-buds. She was a pretty brunette wearing a white halter and blue jeans with an iPod strapped around her right bicep. I suspected she was a tourist, out on a power walk with her iPod drowning out the sounds of anything natural.
It was always windy on the cliffs, and only a few puffy clouds drifted in on the morning breeze as breakers crashed on the rocks below. I had never seen her before, but today I couldn’t help but notice her. She’d been about 100 yards away, walking towards me when she just put her hands up to her headphones and stood motionless. When I reached her, she had head cocked up to the sky and her eyes closed. Her lips parted in expectation – in expectation of what, I wondered. Her expression was much like I imagined mine to be as I straddled James on one of our illicit rendezvous. He was married, but as long as the sex was good, I didn’t mind. We’d had an on and off fling for nearly a decade. He was bored at home, and I was desperate – a perfect match.
“Excuse me,” I’d shouted to no reply. “Are you all right?”
The good Samaritan in me couldn’t leave her until I knew she was fine. After a minute, I touched her on the shoulder, and her eyes sprang open. Not even noticing me, she smiled and sank to her knees before crumpling over in a heap onto the path.
Again, I’d nudged her. “Are you okay?” As I rolled her over, her eyes just stared off into the sky, and there was no longer any life behind her smile. I checked her pulse. None. I nudged her harder. Nothing. That’s when I started CPR, and dialled 999.
“Are you still there?” the operator asked from my phone.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Fifteen minutes. Any change?”
“Thanks, no,” I answered, thinking I might have another go at CPR, but it had been almost five minutes since I’d given up, and she was surely brain-dead now, if she wasn’t before. It wouldn’t do much good to revive a vegetable.
I noticed her iPod was still ticking over, and I wondered what she’d been listening to that had caused her to stop so suddenly. Cautiously, I put her headphones up to my ears. Nothing. The timing showed that the track had been playing for 15 minutes, so I backed it up to the previous one. The display didn’t tell me anything useful, just a bunch of numbers.
Again, I put it up to my ears, and immediately knew my mistake. I heard nothing, but I felt James … not the real James … a fantasy James inside me just like I imagined on one of my lonely nights at home … perfect, and perfectly pleasing. I had lost track of the wind, the cliff, everything but this fantasy sex god touching every tender spot of glory. I was in heaven. I knew I’d sat up on my knees – that heightened the experience – and had clasped my hands to my ears, just like that woman had done. I couldn’t move, not until, yes, it was coming, closer and closer.
I wanted it more than anything, more than life itself. With a blinding crack, it came. I shuddered with ecstasy, and then …