You, sat smoking cigarettes on the beach, whistling a tune that I’d never heard before. I asked you what it was. I couldn’t make out a word that you said. Ever syllable landed perfectly on the updraft and I didn’t dare ask what you were talking about. It’d only ruin the moment. I could pretend you were speaking an exotic tongue for every minute that I couldn’t work out what you were saying. As soon as the wind drops, the mystery leaves like a sour taste. Watching the words wilt on a stiff breeze was always the easiest way to pass the time. You didn’t like it when I just watched you. But sometimes you just have to be selfish. It’s the only way to stay sane.
The tune caught in the bushes and mingled with the berries. The berries grew to their potential and burst. A supernova on a small scale.
We waited until the rain started tricking the sea into creeping up the beach. Everybody needs shelter these days. Even the sea. The salt got dragged on the current. Tickled the sand until the sand ran away back into the depths to find its friends. A bully is a bully is a bully is a bully. We waited a touch too long. Until our toes realised what was happening. You should always try and stay one step ahead in this game. Or you’ll end up drowning. And you told me that drowning was exactly how you never wanted to die. Not that you ever wanted to die. Dunbar was your favourite. You never told me why. But I’m sure that I could guess if I was given enough time. And if I had a chance to re-read Catch-22.
Once our legs were covered we got up and moved. Touching the grass to make sure this was real. I don’t want to drown. I want to run until my legs give out and I have to crawl to the finish line. Fingernails grasping at the remnants of the day knowing that a quick shower will start the whole process running again. Be my running partner and I’ll never run out of breath again. By the oxygen that gets me going. I don’t think it’s as difficult as it sounds. So grasp that grass like it’s straw and we’ll make bedding and a house from it. Multi purpose everything. When that wolf comes to blow our house down. We’ll just pack up our stuff and move. It’s that simple, that’s the beauty of it. We can even create the path to our new house with it.
Tread carefully so as not to ruin the lining. It may only be straw but we’ve still only a limited supply. Tip toe across the areas that look worn and lie down where it’s still soft. If worst comes to worst then we’ll burn it for warmth. Once that pyre runs out we’ll know that our times up. At least we’ll know that our time has been well spent. Watching our wishes solidify in the fire. Novelty is never lost on the young. We’ll sell our belongings and write bad songs about our chosen misfortune. And smile when we’re misunderstood. So tune that whistle, darling. We’re going to make our millions one way or another.
Once we have our money we’ll make our own beach. We’ll make it from the glass that we’ve turned back into sand. And build the sandcastle that we always wanted to build. Where the towers rise until the sky falls into the moat. Where we’ll build new houses on the clouds. Cutting the windows by digging with our fingers until all the shapes fall into place. Because sand will only hold until the next tide comes but the clouds will return whenever we want them. For this is a wretched place and the rain never stops. But at least we can get our clouds just the way we want them. If they fall apart we’ll start again.
And collect the rain in buckets to strengthen our castles. But remember not to drink it when we’re thirsty. Just another old survival trick that I hope that we never have to use. I know plenty of them, just in case. I’m not sure why I spent so long reading about how to survive when I should’ve spent the time surviving. Hiding in a library is much easier than finding out which berry not to eat through trial and error. Apparently this isn’t a technique that you should actually try. The trial and error part I mean. There are plenty of berries that definitely aren’t good for you. Mostly the ones that you would think are going to be delicious.
The sweet fruits of our labours will never take in this barren land. Another endeavour ultimately ruined by being born in the wrong place. But that’s always the way.
Entwine your fingers with mine until the roots hold. There’s water here, my dear. Fresh water. That will keep us going for years from now. Enough to fill a thousand springs. If we can’t drink then at least we can swim. We’ll swim until we’re clean and the shore touches our finger tips. Don’t worry if this takes days, I’ve got the lungs for it. And if you get tired you can always just hold onto me. I can swim for days in these kind of conditions. The current will take us from shore to shore until we find home. Where the wind will ruffle our hair and push at our backs. Lightly at first. And then firmly until we reach safety. Where the fire will be burning.
And where there is a fire burning there will be leaves lifting. And we’ll watch the leaves as they become roses floating just above our faces. Each petal will be inscribed with the words that you never wanted to tell me but I needed to know. The perfume given off will be the last smell that we’ll ever need know. So touch the leaves to your skin and watch as the marks they leave become tattoos of hope. We’ll watch the excess leaves catch in the updraft. Punctuation for a perfect sky.