Tuesday, 28 February 2017

PROSE // SANDCASTLES





The fragmented iridescence of reality floods through the clouds that correlate above my head and for a moment I am singular amongst a mass of floating seagulls that line the shore. Far off, over rocky hills that are garnished with small cottages and smoking chimneys I can see the end of the world, where the ocean falls away into pools of brightly coloured plantations. Clawing at the sodden sand beneath my bare feet, I let the mixture run through my fingers, entwining into the crevices of skin, flooding through my pours. I hate sand. It sticks to the skin like barnacles clambering against the rocky creeks of the shoreline. The sun isn’t shining, it is always dark here and always cold.

I can see you. You’re wearing your favourite cap, black with a mesh lining at the back, with your grey hairs sprouting through the bottom in an unflattering array of angles. Your ears are coiled and convulsed through years of playing rugby and one eye squints against the light of the day due to your cataract. Skin once soft and pink has turned to crepe paper, with sheets breaking away into a cubist masterpiece. Over your skeleton, sits a green shirt, short sleeved and creased. Your shorts, beige, ill-fitting and missing a button in the bottom left corner. Despite all that the one thing that is familiar about you is your brown beach shoes. Worn away at one corner, uncovering a small hole they seem almost homely, like seeing an old friend after many years apart.

Softly treading over the sand, I hear your soft laughter, a sound that has become a faint memory and a sight only seen in old sepia photographs and old tape recordings. I like to remember you like that.

Swings were a favourite outlet of childhood happiness. You would push us for many hours, singing ‘pop goes the weasel’ until the gentle light of the sun began to fade behind the far off cemented buildings of the swimming baths which we never frequented because Mum said it was ‘totally unhygienic.’ Then we would stroll home against the soft Welsh breeze that caressed pink cheeked faces and you would tell us stories of your many adventures that you had from the seat of your bicycle. Great green lands with towering oak trees and blossoming flowers. Grand cities with cement architectural abominations and thunderous car horns. Quiet stone parks with sculptures that danced through water fountains. You would recount them all night until our eyelids began to flutter closed in the small bedroom of our trailer tent and you clamber back on to the seat of your little green bike that matched the colour of that shirt and you would disappear into the distance, only the faint ticking of your wheels turning over the gravel path reaching our ears.

The sand has dispersed from my pours now, the wind whipping through my thin hair and as I turn I can see you, bare foot with a fluorescent red, plastic spade clutched in your hands; they are shaking slightly. I want to smile, I want to run to you but I can only stand in this transparent box and watch you as you begin to corrupt the smooth surface of the beach, digging deep into the earth, running your hand across ragged shells and soft pebbles. Through the thin line of your lips I can hear you singing, though your mouth never moves. The sound is faint but rich like a hot pot of coffee and I find myself rocking from side to side, like a fishing boat anchored in the harbour. From my frame erupt thousands of bewitching, coloured lights that dance around me, twirling and dispersing through the air as their tiny flecks reach out to you. Your eyes find mine for one small second, squinting softly as if you heard a noise you could not recognise. No movement is made, no lines connect and you merely continue to hum your soft melody as the lights captivate my pupils.

Hands that continue to mould down into the earth abruptly halt their craft and putting the spade down you reach out, capturing the tiny flecks of light in yellows and blues. For a moment you consider releasing the fragile fragments from your palm but instead you reach back down into the earth and continue to caress the sand. Your voice creates a new song. This song is haunting, full of tiny bones and broken china and I listen, the lights fading from my soul as I look to you from across the shore. Only now do I try to cry out, quickly realising that my own voice has been captured in a moment of beauty and I thrash at the transparent confine I have been placed in but I cannot reach you.

I see your gangly legs rising from the soft ground, the bones realigning and crinkling as you stand at your full height and I am released from the confines that hold me to the ground. Wind lashing at the tender skin upon my face, I run to you but every faltering step I take towards you, I seem to get further away. I shout your name, the name I have given you, long before I was born into this world. You look at me now, smiling gently showing a few jiggered teeth at the front of your mouth, before your body erupts into sand and floats away on an easterly wind.

I run for hours, hours and hours, hours and hours and hours. I reach the small grave you have dug into the earth, the sky is light but covered with millions of bulbs and I look into the ground. There nestled into the walls of the sand city lay your brown beach shoes, entwined with vines of daisies. I fall to the floor, my fingers clawing at the earth as I water the daisies with fresh tears.
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