Archive for March, 2010
She walked slowly at the edge of the surf looking downward and occasionally out to the waves crashing on the beach. From where I was lying, recovering from an icy cold immersion, I could see she had what looked like to be a curled up dog leash in her hand. Her slow, studied steps and downward gaze lent her the air of someone who was profoundly sad and I wondered to myself what the story behind her was. She paused, looked my way, but unlike other beach traveller she did not acknowledge my presence. I felt a melancholy myself and I wanted to find out more about this women/child. From where I was lying she looked to be a late teenager or a young woman in her twenties. She was about 160 cm tall and was a roundish build. She was dressed in a grey casual sweater, white shirt or t-shirt underneath and a pair of ragged jeans. She was shoeless and of course carried that dog leash although, apart from her and I, the beach was deserted. The day was warm, even hot, and the surf was dotted with gulls and terns diving into baitfish feeding on the back of the surf. The occasional swallow darted down the beach, though I saw none alighting on kelp or sand to snatch up insects.
She walked down the entirety of the beach and then slowly made her way back again, lost in thought. I was determined to find out more.
The next day I was there again at approximately the same time. She never appeared, nor the next day, but on Friday she repeated her pattern of that Tuesday. Same clothes, same walk, same look, the curled leash.
I slowly walked down the beach, timing my steps so that I would intercept her as she strolled along the shoreline. As I closed in on her she paused and looked anxiously at me, started to turn, then turned back as I spoke.
“Lovely day for a walk.”
She stared at me as if I was some sort of moron.
“I said the weather is certainly much better suited for walking.”
She muttered something then turned and walked briskly off in the other direction.
I wondered where she was leading me. It seemed as if I had been here before, a place I dreamed about? Or had actually been to. The door was old and the paint peeling, as if it was a lizard or snake shedding its skin. She led me into a large room, dominated by an old Shacklock coal range. Green enamelled. I remembered this from my childhood. My grandfather had owned this house when I was very young. On the floor was a large mat his wife had woven – dead before I was born. The kitchen was crude, a handbasin suspended from the wall, exposed taps, electrical wires running naked down the wall. She gestured I should move into the main room. It was different from how I remembered it or what I thought was my memory. I was starting to doubt this was the actual house. Maybe one I had visited. I saw my reflection in the oval mirror mounted on the side wall. An elderly man, balding, unshaven, dressed rather shabbily as if he had just stumbled out of bed and put on the nearest clothing to where he landed. Not to far from the truth.
She told me she had dreams about here father and where he was now.
She dreamed of him as a Jesus-like figure standing in the gloom outside a large department store – eerily lit up in a fading autumn afternoon. His clothing matched the lighting-sombre browns, maybe a hint of green, maybe something orange. He was skin baked brown with a dark full beard and thinning hair. He stood mannequin still-his hands folded, prayer like. At his feet was an old trilby hat with a rough cardboard sign that read ‘Homeless. Money for Food’. Passer-by’s ignored him or shied away to the other side of the footpath. His eyes were downcast and sad.
She had not seen or heard from her father for eleven years.
She twisted the dog leash in her hands as she described the man whom I was sure did not exist.
He appeared again, this time with a bright red scarf or undershirt which showed over the collar of his rough brown jersey.
She asked me to explain what it meant as if she had penetrated my façade of being a psychologist.
“He’s bleeding isn’t he? It means he is dead?”