Cliffside Contemplation

A windy cliff overlooking the sea. The moon shines over a pair of people facing the water.

Marlene: “What brings you out here tonight?”

Daniel: “Couldn’t sleep. Wanted to take a walk, so I did.”

Marlene: “To a cliff? There are safer places to look for air.”

Daniel: “The wind is relaxing.”

Marlene: “Does it counteract the sheer terror of standing six feet from a four-story drop?”

Daniel: “Why are you here?”

Marlene: “You’re changing the subject.”

Daniel: “And you’re not answering my question.”

Marlene: “I suppose I’m not. Fine. I wanted to make sure nothing bad happened.”

Daniel: “Why would something bad happen?”

Marlene: “You’re on a cliff by yourself in the middle of the night. I know you well enough to know you’re capable of connecting the dots.”

Daniel: “I guess. In that case you may also know me well enough to know that’s of no concern.”

Marlene: “You know other people could be a concern too. Not everyone would gently approach someone standing at the edge of a cliff.”

Daniel: “What kind of psychopaths do you think live around here?”

Marlene: “You never know. Cliffs aren’t the safest places to be in the middle of the night.”

Daniel: “I get it, trust me. Are you here for any reason other than to incessantly warn me?”

Marlene: “No need to be so bristly.”

Daniel: “I didn’t come out to an isolated cliff in the middle of the night so I could chat.”

Marlene: “Well, now you have chat, so are you going to appreciate it or not?”

Daniel: “None of the above.”

Marlene: “Tell me how you really feel.”

Daniel: “Look. I’m not trying to be rude. I’m worn out, and I’d like to be alone, so if you’d mind giving me that, at the very least.”

Marlene: “Alright, geez, forgive me for being concerned.”

Daniel: “It’s been seven minutes and I can’t help but notice that you’re still here.”

Marlene: “I haven’t said anything.”

Daniel: “It’s possible that you’re not aware, but most people consider the word ‘alone’ to imply an absence of other people. That’s a little more than not saying anything.”

Marlene: “There’s no need to be condescending. It’s just…”

Daniel: “Just what?”

Marlene: “I don’t want to go back alone.”

Daniel: “What do you mean?”

Marlene: “I’m… afraid of the dark.”

Daniel: “Then what in the name of all things good are you doing out here in the first place?”

Marlene: “We’ve already covered that in detail. I was concerned about you.”

Daniel: “Hm.”

Marlene: “What do you mean ‘hm’?”

Daniel: “Fine. I’ll walk back with you.”

The same cliff. Marlene once again approaches Daniel.

Marlene: “Fancy seeing you here this evening.”

Daniel: “Oh, hey Marlene. What brings you here?”

Marlene: “I was just out for an evening stroll and I saw you looking all melancholy. I thought, I dunno, maybe you wanted someone to talk to.”

Daniel: “Well I suppose I wouldn’t mind. I don’t tend to go for idle chitchat, though.”

Marlene: “I know you well enough to be quite familiar with that.”

Daniel: “Haha, perhaps that’s true. Did you have anything you wanted to talk about?”

Marlene: “Not particularly. The moon is nice tonight.”

Daniel: “That it is. Uncommonly bright, wouldn’t you say?”

Marlene: “Is it supposed to be full tonight?”

Daniel: “I don’t know, can you look it up?”

Marlene: “It looks like… Oh! It’s a blue moon!”

Daniel: “Really? Interesting. I don’t ever follow astronomy enough to know.”

Marlene: “Hm…”

Daniel: “What’s on your mind?”

Marlene: “Does this all seem really convenient to you?”

Daniel: “What do you mean by that?”

Marlene: “I dunno, do you ever watch those shows where you can see from the very beginning that the main guy and the main girl are going to be romantically involved, even if they don’t really have an interest in each other at first?”

Daniel: “H-hey, where are you going with this?”

Marlene: “You’re not blushing, are you?”

Daniel: “Hey!”

Marlene: “You’re not doing anything to disprove what I’m saying.”

Daniel: “Well what are you saying, anyway?”

Marlene: “Well, just look at it. Out on an evening walk, a girl just happens upon an old friend watching over the edge of a cliff. When they talk—alone—they discover that, by some celestial coincidence, it’s the night of an uncommon astronomical event that makes the sky look even more beautiful than usual, and that leads to noticing things about each other…”

Daniel: “W-why are you looking at me like that?”

Marlene: “Well?”

Daniel: “Are you saying you’re interested in me?”

Marlene: “Well, not necessarily… Just that, speaking hypothetically, if I was, this would seem like a really convenient setup for a budding romance.”

Daniel: “Well, I’m glad we’ve established that.”

Marlene: “Is it a little chilly out?”

Daniel: “…you’re interested in me, aren’t you.”

Marlene: “Well are you going to reciprocate?”

Daniel: “I guess there’s no sense denying it. Come here.”

The familiar cliff. Marlene approaches Daniel once again.

Marlene: “Daniel.”

Daniel: “What are you doing here?”

Marlene: “Don’t you know it’s dangerous out at night?”

Daniel: “I know there’ve been… disappearances. But that’s not going to stop me from taking an evening walk.”

Marlene: “What do you think has been happening?”

Daniel: “It’s difficult to say. It doesn’t seem like there’s been much evidence to connect them at all. All I know is that the only people who have disappeared have been classmates of ours, and it’s all happened in the last few weeks. But you probably knew that, didn’t you?”

Marlene: “What makes you say I would know?”

Daniel: “I mean, if you’re asking me about it I assume that you have some knowledge of what’s happening. You’re certainly not the oblivious type.”

Marlene: “Well, I did know most of what you said. It’s interesting that you make some of those connections.”

Daniel: “Do you know more?”

Marlene: “Well, there’s one detail I know that you didn’t mention.”

Daniel: “What’s that?”

Marlene: “The person responsible makes hand puppets based on everyone who disappears.”

Daniel: “Wait, how on earth would you-hey!”

Marlene: “Sorry, Daniel, but you make such an adorable hand puppet, I couldn’t resist. See?”

Puppet-Daniel: “Hello, Daniel!”

Daniel: “You’re insane. You are actually insane.”

Marlene: “Well the puppets don’t think so, do they?”

Puppet-Daniel: “Nope, not a bit!”

Daniel: “Making the puppet respond affirmatively to everything you say does not make you any less insane.”

Marlene: “Well, your opinion on the matter doesn’t mean much to me. I hope you understand.”

Daniel: “No, Marlene, I don’t think you get it, this is not something that can be understood because you are absolutely freaking nuts.”

Marlene: “Tell me, Daniel, did you tell anyone you were going on a walk this evening?”

Daniel: “No, nobody knows. But it’s a regular thing anyway. People will be suspicious.”

Marlene: “But it’ll take a while before they find out you’re gone. That’ll give me plenty of time to dispose of any evidence they could possibly find.”

Daniel: “You’re making one major assumption that you shouldn’t be making.”

Marlene: “And what’s that?”

Daniel: “You’re assuming I’m going to go down without a fight.”

Marlene: “It’s adorable that you think you can change anything.”

Daniel: “Perhaps I couldn’t have if you hadn’t explained everything to me.”

Marlene: “What are you doing?!”

Daniel: “Maybe I’m gonna go over this cliff, but you’re coming with me!”

Marlene: “No!”

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