It’s the best place in the world, she said. So romantic, she said, only a short walk, she said. Come with me, she said. I'll make it worth your while.
And me, being me, and only thinking with one part of my body, said okay then.
And to be honest, it was a lovely place, a little shepherd’s cottage with views of the ocean, only accessible by two footpaths; one to the road and one to the beach. Yes, the walk was hard for someone with an ankle problem, but the views alone were worth it. We had a whale of a time, making the fire, cooking the food over the fire, snuggling up in front of the fire. And then the stars, so many stars. No matter how many times I see a clear night sky freed from the light pollution of our towns and cities, I will never get over the sheer beauty of the millions of stars all competing for our attention. Oh, needless to say, she did make it worth my while.
It was day two when the trouble struck, going down to the beach, down the secret pathway, the path so thin that it would make Naomi Campbell feel fat. It was fine to start with but soon the shrubbery on the sea side fell away and the only thing between me and a sheer drop was a flimsy rope fence. I edged along trying to tell myself I could do it despite my legs telling me I bloody well couldn’t. I don’t know what scared me more, the threat of certain death to my left or watching Sian gambol along the path like it was an eight-lane motorway. The loose scree of the path made me even more nervous with my foot slipping with each step. If anything, the path was getting narrower and narrower. I had my back to the cliff and my beer belly hung over the drop. My brain told me not to look down. My eyes disobey sending me tumbling, plummeting into total panic zone. I froze. I tried lifting my right leg but it refused. It was on strike. I could go no further.
“What's wrong?” she yelled.
“I c c c c can’t,” I said.
“Come on,” she skipped back and took my hand, she pulled, but I didn't move.
“I c c c c can't.”
“Let’s go back then,”
“I c c c c c can't, I'm s s s s stuck.” I could feel the breeze around my legs and the warm sun on my face. Seagulls squawked and sailed on the currents.
“Jesus, you’ve gone white.” She got out her phone. “No signal, I'll go get help,” she said.
I heard the helicopter before I saw it; not surprising really as I had had my eyes shut since she’d left. The down draft was making me feel even left secure.
I could see the man smiling at me as he was lowered from the craft.
“In a bit of a tizz are we?” he shouted, as he wrapped the ropes around me and then signalled the winch to hoist us up.
I screamed all the way from terra firma to the inside of the helicopter. I’d clung to the man so tightly, I was in half a mind to propose to him, I don’t think I’d ever been so intimate with a complete stranger before.
I dreaded seeing Sian; what would she think of me? But that night, as we watched the lightning flash over the sea and cwtched up to the sound of thunder, she certainly made it all worth my while.