by Suzanne Sherman
This evening I walked the Sonoma Coast headlands the hour before a sunset that lit the sky with crimson and gold. How good it felt to be high on a cliff seeing seagulls form a flock then cast apart on gusts. White caps pounded rocks for miles in both directions and beyond them the sea looked almost placid, readying for the night.
Suddenly, a siren sounded, something rarely heard here. I watched three police cars pass and wondered where they were headed as I walked back to the car.
Ten minutes up the road, there they were, parked in the lot overlooking the beach where the Russian River finishes its long run, fanning across the sand like a mirror for the crimson sky. Near these converging waters a helicopter sat parked, red lights flashing. I pulled in beside other onlookers and got out of the car in time to hear a teenaged boy say into his cell phone, “Yea, we saved a life today. Here at the beach.”
Who would need to be saved on a night like this? The tide was low, the ocean calm. I was puzzled.
Just then, the helicopter began to rise from the sand. A beautiful boy with almond eyes came up carrying a guitar under his arm, here, maybe, to play for the sunset. “She’s going to be alright,” he said.
“Do you know what happened?” I asked.
“She was trying to commit suicide but they saved her,” he said. “Can you imagine? Couldn’t she see what she has?”
I watched the helicopter turn toward the full moon that hung luminous in the eastern sky, toward a city where no one will see that moon, away from where I stood realizing a woman had nearly ended her life at the same time so many of us were filled with wonder. How unsettling it was to remember what different experiences we’re all having, to be reminded that not everyone could go breathless by a sky like this, that they could want to die under it, taken away by the cold, cold waters.
Suzanne Sherman is a writer, editor, writing teacher, and writing consultant with over 30 years in the publishing business. She helps writers develop their work in a variety of genres and find publication. Her short memoir has appeared in The Sun, Skirt!, Women’s Voices, and other publications. Visit SCN Online Classes and see her website for more.