I’ll find the prose in new ways

Salt Water

The beach was deserted. This was how she liked it best; no people around, making her feel like she was truly at the edge of the world, and that beyond that blue horizon was just endless unknown nothingness. She approached the water’s edge; staring into its green depths. Will it take me over? She was a little nervous of the water, what if the waves got too big? What if she got in too deep? But when she focused on the clear blue line of the horizon, an endless, ageless sea, a strange calm settled over her. Something odd happens to sand when the salt water drifts over it; it seems to sink into itself in impossible dimensions, and if you happen to be standing on it, it can be both unsettling and comforting. If you walk with the shoreline, it seems like the waves, however gentle, are trying to pull you into their watery grasp. It feels like you are walking with a living being, one who wants to coax you into its home, from which you probably wouldn’t ever leave. Wouldn’t ever want to leave. The ocean was a faithful friend, who never left her behind.

Several memories flashed into her head, drawing her away from the present and into the recesses of her mind.  The first was of when she was little, her mother clutching at her hand which ran red with blood. She’d been running on the gravel, for the beaches where she was at that age weren’t sandy, but were their own sea of pebbles. She liked to collect the pebbles, and a shining white one called out to her in the distance. She ran towards it, but then realized that while she knew how to run, she wasn’t sure how to stop. Easiest, quickest way seemed to just fall. So she did, and her hand caught on the edge of a sharp shiny pebble and made quick work of her soft baby skin. Her mother, running towards her, curls flying and 50s bathing suit making her giggle, grabbed her hand with worried eyes. The little girl stared at the cut for a while, matching the colour on her hand with her mother’s swimsuit. She didn’t cry, just said “Make it stop?” blue eyes wide with curiosity. Her mother led her to the water’s edge and stuck her hand in. “Salt water, cures everything.” She said, her lullaby voice sounding a hundred miles away…

Another memory washed up upon the shore of this last one, one that was so brief but so perfect in its detail she didn’t often let her mind wander to it. It was an early morning; she was alone in her house, her lovely house and white picket fence. The doorbell made its cling-clang sound through the house, and she hastily undid her apron, dusted the flour off her hands and went to the door. As she pulled it open, her heart broke upon the sight. Two army officers stood on her stoop, one of them couldn’t raise his eyes to her, the other just stared, his eyes full with exhaustion and the wars he’d seen reflected in his face. The words he spoke were unnecessary and she barely heard him as a cool resolution washed over her, she lowered her tear filled eyes and invited them in. Her cake burned. She didn’t bake any more.

A final memory broke the surface of her mind. She was in a cathedral, where hundreds of mosaics adorned the walls and ceilings. They were so detailed; at first she thought they were paintings. Hundreds upon hundreds of saints and angels dressed in blue and gold, staring out at her with these eyes, these soft brown eyes that looked as if they had seen the whole world, the whole of history, and still knew that it would be okay. She didn’t even like churches, but she went there often to look into their peaceful faces, because it reminded her of him. After a while, though, their faces ceased to seem peaceful to her, and instead were patronising. She suddenly grew angry at the angels, like it was their fault; they should have taken care of him. She wanted to rip the mosaics from the walls and burn the whole cathedral. The father made her leave; this is a place of silence and reflection. She had cursed at him as he rejected her from the house of God.

It was after this that she started visiting the beach. She went there nearly every day now, as if he might wash up on the sand. She would stand and wait and stare for hours, catatonic and slowly losing her grip on reality.

A hundred thousand other memories had made up her life, but it was difficult to see around the scar her loss had bore. She rubbed the scar on her hand unconsciously, and the one on her heart twinged in response. Her twin scars, so unrelated, and yet had come together in a way that made sense to her, to her mind that was lost, still wandering the beach in search shiny pebbles. But this beach was just sand, stretching out to the end of the earth. Maybe she would find it in the salt water, the cure for everything. She walked into the ocean, walked until she could no longer, and then swam. She knew the easiest way to stop was to fall, but in the water everything is slow-motion. She knew it wouldn’t be too long.



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