Posted on August 16, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair8.16.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Robert Frank August 16, 2014: And the nights on the beach… Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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The slow shushing of the waves and the silent drifting of a gull in the dun and starless sky, like the sound has been turned down on the world.
‘Quiet now,’ says her da. ‘Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.’
The air shifts about her, pressing itself close, near as an invisible lover, fondling her clothed breasts and fiddling with the folds of her dress and combing fingers through her wild tossed hair.
‘Sweet dreams,’ says her da as he closes the door a little. ‘Sweeter as honey.’
Her feet slip in the sand and she catches at her breath. There should be a moon tonight, but the clouds shroud the sky in muffled dark. She has a lantern in one hand and its small yellow light lies down at her feet like a submissive pup. No matter, she knows the way.
‘I can’t find sleep, da,’ she says, and the door is open enough he can hear and he tells her to try counting sheep and counting slow.
And she is counting now, but steps it is she’s counting instead of sheep. A hundred well-trodden steps along the shore and her ears pricked for music that she recognises.
‘One – two – three – four…’
Fiddle and pipe she should hear and her feet lightly lifted and kicking high and her dress flying and her hair flying too. And it’s dancing she will be and not alone in her dancing.
‘Thirty-two – thirty-three – thirty-four…’
And Collum holds her hand in his and he laughs and pulls her after him, and breathless is the night, and she looks into his coal-black eyes, black as the stare of birds, and there should be moonlight reflected in his eyes, as there always is. And he holds her close, pressing, close as the wind, and the brush of his hand on her breasts and fumbling in the folds of her dress, and she catches her breath.
‘Fifty-six – fifty-seven…’
Kisses taste of salt when it is a selkie you kiss, and he never can stay, not beyond the moonlight dancing. And he says he loves her and she loves him and surely that should be enough. But then there is the sea, pulling and pulling him back.
‘Seventy-eight – seventy-nine…’
And she is almost there, and still the yellow from her lantern flickers, and there should be music and not just the whisper of the sea or the silence of the drifting gull or the soft slither of her feet in the sand and her quickening breath and her heart running. But there is no moon on the water nor in the sky and the night, this night, is cold as winter.
‘Eighty-nine – ninety – ninety-one…’
‘Sleep-tight,’ says her da.
And she asks if she can keep the light on by her bed and her da says she’s a big girl now and sure she doesn’t need the light the same as before and so she lays her head down in the new dark, feels the pillow pulling her in, and she waits – for sleep to come, waits for music and dancing and Collum with his hands discovering who she is, what she is, and her breath not slow but quick.