A tiny tragedy in an ocean of sadness makes barely a ripple. Still, I was taken aback to receive an email from a former wife (the one I never hear from), that C. was missing.
I clicked on the news site; police were concerned for her safety. Her distinctive turquoise Mini Cooper was found abandoned on a beautiful, windswept Cornish headland. She was never seen again.
Those few news snippets in January were the last we heard of C. There was no body found, no follow-up. The news sites moved on. The tide came in and went out and the cycle was repeated. The police now have other things to be concerned about, even in picturesque Cornwall, far from the monstrous anger of the guns.
These displaced pieces of my life still bother me, though. C was a colorful part of my old life once. She modeled herself on Audrey Hepburn with her cute fringes, although she was more like Bette Davis. C summed up an antique world that existed before my time, down to the classic British Broadcasting Corporation voice. C was fun company. In today's parlance, she was extra. She also suffered, more than we perhaps ever knew.
That story about how she smashed a bottle of red wine against the wall because she was so desperate for vino after a stressful day at the paper is legendary. It probably has disturbing undertones I never really considered. We were housemates for a while, thankfully not too long. Shockingly, C considered me messy and slovenly so off I went into the big, bad world to make my mistakes.
Still, we remained friends. I remember a traditional Easter event at Bideford Town Council. We left the gloom of the council chambers and walked over the cliffs at Hartland Point. I did not realize it at the time, but there are few more breathtaking places in the world than Hartland Point. It was a beautiful spring day that turned the meadows above the plunging cliffs a translucent green. The thrift was sprouting in patches of bright pink. The warm wind moved the grass and the restless sea sloughed, sighed, and smashed against the rock stacks below. It was the perfect distillation of a spring day to be captured in a frame and saved for posterity, although it never was.
It's painful now to hear, second-hand, of the decline of C. Giving up the world of newspapers and the death of her mother led to a downward spiral that would turn that day warmed by the first touches of spring on its head. I shudder to think of what happened on a cold January day on that same turbulent Westcountry coast, months away from the first rays of spring. Odd and poetic too that C who had always loved Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca may have succumbed to a similar fate on the rocks.
Still, C is gone and with her loss, a fragile piece of the old world clatters into the rocks and fragments on the sands of that dark beach that we dare not think of.