Saturday 6 June 2020

'Like Sand' by Linda Irish

She has been sitting in the deckchair for so long now that the waves are icing her toes. There was a moment when she might have risen, folded her towel, shuffled into her sandals and waggled up the beach to the long journey home, lighter than when she’d arrived, and she was so very close, a stranger’s glance away, but no, the moment has passed and here she is still in the deckchair and someone has thrown a coat over her and called an ambulance, called the coastguard, who is here now, a kind man, a widower, who might have been ready, if circumstances were different, who would certainly have liked the look of her, but no, she is under the coat, that moment has passed, all he can see are her feet, semi-submerged, and a jar, adorned with paper cut-outs (tiny boats?), he peers closer, mistakes the contents for sand at first before recognising them and understanding why she is here on this beach, and he picks up the jar, because he is a kind man, as we know, a man who is reconciled to the ebb and flow a life brings, and he twists off the lid, wades in a little, licks his finger to test the air, to be sure, and shakes out the ashes to flutter into the salty lips of the breeze where they join his wife’s, which still blow contrarily through the stirrings in his mind, as the siren’s song sweeps across the bay.

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