3 Replies to “12.26.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. He comes here every day. To the water’s edge. He’s looking for something. He stands on the sand at first and he peers to where the sky sits on the sea, the blue-grey smudge where they meet, the one dissolving into the other. And he shields his eyes with one raised hand against the glare of the wide open sky, and he is looking.

    He is in his mid thirties and he has lived through hard times. He stands a little stooped and his face is pale and drawn, his hair unbrushed. His clothes hang loosely on him, like they are not his own or as though he is less than he once was. And he comes to the beach in all weathers and he just stands, looking out to sea.

    It is early when he comes. The light is new and the air is damp from the night and chill. He just appears, as if from nowhere, as if he has been waiting for the moment to be right. I think of the theatre when I see him, think of actors waiting in the wings and then stepping on cue into their light. When I am not there, I wonder if he is, if the show goes on even when no one’s looking.

    He walks to the water as though in a replaying dream and he does not look at where he steps, misses the pretty spiral shells and green scuttle crabs and the broken bits of sea-glass at his feet. It is only the water that he sees, the animal heave and swell of it and the rushing up the sand and then the withdrawing again. And sometimes he looks up at the sky, at the shapes in the clouds or at the clearness of the empty blue.

    Once, I speculated on what he was looking for, but there was more of me in the story I gave him. I thought he was searching for the sign of a boat coming back to this place and a displaced family on that boat and a girl called Asta and she was something to him. I put words in his mouth and he murmurs her name, casts it like a flat skimming stone across the surface of the water or sets it free like a message in a corked bottle. Asta, and there were soft words between them, once, and small touches, and kisses that were briefer than moments; and now there’s just waiting and hoping.

    Some days he goes beyond the very edge and up to his knees in water and still looking far off. A seagull wheels in the air, crying, and maybe it means something to him. Maybe he mistakes it for something else. I want to run to him then. I want to take his hand and bring him from out of the water, which is cold and as sharp as glass. And then I want to hold him – or to be held, the two of us like survivors from a wreck. And the gift of kisses from me to him, to reassure him I am there. And on his lips my name, small as whisper, said over and over like a prayer, and Asta he says, and I nod and say him yes.

    But if I did, what then? Maybe he would stop coming and I would be more lost than ever before. And so I stand a way off and I watch him at the water’s edge or up to his knees, and I say a name that is not his name, and I wait and hope.

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