Roger looked through his balcony telescope as he did every morning, reviewing the iron statues scattered across the estuary beach, checking the number of rusty men as they looked out to sea. The first ones had appeared a century ago, but no sculptor had stepped forward to claim them. Many had thought it was some kind of hoax, but as the decades passed, more appeared and no one discovered the culprit. And despite a stream of researchers it remained a local mystery.
The appearance of a new statue a couple of years ago had renewed Roger’s interest. They had captivated him as a child, when they had come here on family holidays, and been the initial inspiration for his career in photography. Not being tied to anything in the city, he’d moved up here to examine them closer.
He purchased a clifftop house overlooking the bay, which gave him the perfect vantage point to ponder his fascination. He kept written and photographic records, logging how they stood through tides and seasons, but he didn’t uncover any secrets or patterns. And today, like every day, they stood majestic keeping their enigma, silently observing the sea.
The sea. The thought triggered an idea. Peter went inside and hurried to his desk, remaining there all day, referencing the wall of photos he had built up, of the statues in all kinds of light and weather. By dusk he had finished, and he returned to the deck, realigning the telescope and tripod camera to look at the sea now rather than the male effigies. He lingered, taking in his new perspective, until hunger drew him back inside, and as he stepped into the lounge, facing the photographs, he saw it.
Only in the encroaching evening light was it visible in the photographs: the ocean glowing as though lit from beneath. He pulled two pictures off the wall to inspect them, but under lamplight the strange effect disappeared. But when he returned to the balcony it was there.
The water had come alive with an effervescent shimmer. How could he have missed it before? He looked through the telescope but it wasn’t enough, he needed to experience it. Peter grabbed his coat and a handheld camera and took the path down along the cliffs.
When he reached the sand, the candescence had grown in strength, the edges turning a deep turquoise, and beginning to move and swirl. It intrigued him, he felt drawn to it, the urge to be closer pulling at him.
However, when passing other statues, he began to notice a sound emanating from them and slowed to a stop. And as he stood there, he couldn’t be sure if it was in the sound or in the light, but between the two there seemed to be a place of euphoric tranquility; a calm perfection of light and sound. He stood poised and balanced, letting it wash over him like the movement of the sea. He didn’t want to move, ever.