Don't You Dare
posted Saturday, 10 May 2008
Written today and first published here
I needed only one more corner to negotiate before I reached the promenade and the full-frontal voice of the waves. The day-trippers had already scattered because the creature I called the sea was in a 'don't you dare' mood today. So there was no-one else to be seen on the promenade when I accosted the endless view head-on. I stood, hands on hips, facing the grey surging plough-tracks of the wind from above and of the tides from below.
Amazed, I abruptly saw that where previously there had been nothing, a fort-on-stilts had been built ... about a quarter of the mile from the shore. Not a rig, as such. More like a squat pier without beginning or end.
"They built it all last night to help make wind-farms," I heard spoken from close quarters. I turned quickly to gauge who had become capable of conversation against the whining and hissing of the weather.
It was ... a creature.
I identified it as a simple creature of the night with some doubt because I now saw that dusk had dyed itself with abortions of wrong-headed time. The present moment felt as if it should have been part of a dawn scenario but the immediate sky had already pigged upon a fading dusk - dusk that was fast being extruded from the tail-ends of some ebbing duration of blackened history. So it was not a simple creature of an even simpler night that had spoken, but a purveyor of a tranche of time and tide that swept in off the sea like the overlapping of all nights through which I had recently tossed and turned sleeplessly.
I felt my only avenue of escape was to dash directly into the comforting arms of the sea itself. Comforting, by comparison with those of the creature that now awaited my own rhythmic ritornelle of conversation just set in near-karaoke motion. The potential overlapping of voices would match that of the conflux of various nights as one. Or several flotsam-choked tides meeting to tongue-kiss a whirlpool.
I listened for the vocal backdrop of the waves to beckon me more strongly. One could not take the sea for granted.
I hesitated ... and then I set off at a run across the subsiding pebbles.
But the sea was not ready to love me. I had not visited it as often as I should. The sea needs visiting at least once a day, and trudged beside on each occasion for at least four miles, whatever my age or health. If I had done that religiously over the past days or nights, I would have seen the 'rig' being built and perhaps even prevented its presence as a parasite just off-shore. Building wind-farms seemed a pretty lame excuse to pollute the purity of the sea, to blot the horizon with fixed white wings.
I wept. But the sea did not notice.
The ghostly creature hunched and left the promenade, removing its various multi-coloured coats of night one by one.
The body that had once been me was now just one more item of flotsam nuzzling against the pier-legs of the rig ... as a first attempt to make this story have a happy ending. But there were to be no more attempts. And the wind died at dawn.