“Beach rocks are slippery and dangerous. Enter at own risk”, said the sign at the pier.
He smiled wryly at the word. ‘Risk’. A word he has heard all too often in the past decade or so.
Risk; expressed in percentages of likelihood of success for a particular treatment or surgery, for the number of months he would live.
Risk; a word he has heard too many times from doctors and loved ones alike.
He knew a thing or two about risk, he thought as his stick-like legs swung over the low wall of the pier and onto those dangerous beach rocks, the movement unexpectedly graceful.
A deep breath of the salty sea air. Looking around he found a flat rock, and slowly, painfully, he lowered his skinny rump onto it. A sigh of satisfaction which stung his battered ribs. His gaze returned to the sunset on the horizon, the smile returning to his face, albeit tinged with a quiet pain.
Colours of the sky so beautiful almost to seem unnatural. Bands of blue, white and grey…kissed by the fiery orange of the setting sun. Ahead of him an emerald ocean of waves, jagged in its uniformity. On the rocks he felt like being in a fortress. Those brave waves doing nothing but sending white spray which tickle his feet. The irony was not lost to him as once again he smiled wryly: he felt safer on these dangerous rocks than he ever did in the hands of the finest specialists.
His mind gradually emptied, and he looked around at the scenery spread before him. Across the emerald waves three green islands. Virgin beaches twinkled at him from afar. How he would love to feel the fine sand under his skinny toes just one last time, before he leaves…
To his left, the dock. A quaint symbol of Man’s attempts to control his environment. Masts of anchored yachts stab into the pregnant sky like so many toothpicks. It pained him to look at them, so he averted his gaze upwards.
The salty sea breeze was blowing grey rainclouds to the shore. Lazily they moved along, showering the sea below. Soon the light drizzle kissed the man on the flat beach rock as he closed his tired eyes.
Opening them he viewed directly at the centerpiece of this entire scene – the setting sun itself at the horizon. Partly hidden by clouds, it has made its leisurely way behind the gentle curvature of the ocean afar. The once orange orb now threw an angry red light. Now the clouds were highlighted red on a rapidly dimming blue background. The waves caught this light, and they too glowed a sinister red as they moved closer to the man on the rock.
Suddenly dread gripped his frail heart. He suddenly knew; his final hour has come and gone. Years of expectation, of waiting, have finally come to a close. Doctors have warned of this moment, his loved ones speaking of it in tearful hushed tones. It did strike him as strange that they would not be with him in this much-awaited second. He would be alone.
He reassured his frantic heart. The light drizzle washed away years of misery. Dying rays still peeked over the horizon, seeming to shed some final hope on the dreary scene. He found it a fitting place to breathe his last.
Later they would find him on that flat rock, the spray still tickling his sickly legs. Despite his tortured physique his face was a picture of calm. Loved ones would say that his smile was different; for the first time in a long time it was finally free from pain.
His sun has set. But it was beautiful.
Work of semi-fiction.
Inspired by a breathtaking sunset off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.