The edge

by Lewis

Melys ducked under the fist, bringing her wrinkled elbow up with the force of her whole body. She felt the satisfying crack as Geraldine’s nose exploded. Geraldine gasped in shock and as she did Melys kicked her full force in the stomach, one slipper spinning off her foot into the depths. Geraldine stumbled backwards and in Melys’s eyes the scene slowed to a halt; Geraldine frozen in time on a knife edge of expiration, one arm flailing in the air like a scarf caught in the wind, a look of horror and relief in her eyes.

It had begun three weeks earlier and it hadn’t started well. Melys had been planning the cruise for so long now. A bit of peace and quiet and a chance to escape for a while. But then Gearlidne had showed up next door, grumbling and moaning about the temperature, the food, the music, the staff, the stupid boy who dropped her suitcase. Melys had paid an extortionate amount extra for a sea view and hadn't factored in dealing with as her grandson would have put it; a total fuckwit. At breakfast on the very first day Melys had spilt her cereal when Geraldine, slammed her bag down on the table with a cry of, “No bloody weetabix left is there. Bloody foreigners never give you a decent breakfast.”

Melys had looked bashful as she unsuccessfully hid her own bowl of Weetabix. From then on everything was Melys’s fault. There were no deckchairs by the pool. A queue for the cinema. Wherever she was Geraldine was behind her moaning.

Melys had even tried persuading a ‘Guest Satisfaction Manager’ as they called them, to move her room, by giving him a whole list of written complaints, with a £50 note rolled up in it. Unsatisfyingly the situation was badly managed and the idiot returned the note along with the list, to Geraldine by mistake.

All she had wanted was to get away, to forget everything that had happened, surely she deserved that. But that bitch was ruining it. She hadn’t buried her husband for this. She hadn’t sat through that inquest, those accusations of murder, just to be tortured in a whole new way.

Well she wasn't going to take it. It would be a mercy. Geraldine was nothing but a bitter fallen lemon. And after all, she was good at mercy. It was what Harold had wanted at the end. And now he was gone, and soon Geraldine would be too. The opportunity came when she found herself grabbing a towel from the rack next to the pool, on the top deck of the ship. Her arm was almost wrenched out of its socket, and she span around to find Geraldine barking at her, “That’s my bloody towel you old hag”.

“I had this first Geraldine, so leave it be.”

“Oh you did, did you? Like everything else huh? Always first for precious little Melys. Well not today.”

That was followed by flailing fists and feet as the old warhorse charged. One of the lifeboats was being serviced and foolishly someone had left a gate open. Somehow Melys had spun Geraldine around and that was when she saw her opening. Ducking under a wild swinging left arm.

In that look Geraldine gave her, one arm outstretched, reaching, she finally understood. All that pain, that bitterness washed over her; Geraldine was drowning in it. She had fallen overboard a longtime ago, and no one had ever tried to save her…

Melys threw herself forward as, too late, Geraldine slipped backwards off the edge.