10th July


It was beautiful down there. The stars were out and the moon was pulling the waves up the beach and there was a breeze blowing off the top of them; not much but enough to make your eyes water a bit. His glasses didn’t stop the cold air getting in at the corners and starting the tears. Occasionally he had to lift the glasses and have a wee wipe with the back of his hand.

In the daytime people came with their dogs or their children or just by themselves. In high summer the beach became almost crowded. But at night the place was his alone. The moon threw its light across the broad sweep of sand, and the waves kept throwing themselves away when the moon had finished with them. On the dark water out beyond the waves he thought he could see black shapes that might be gulls or ducks floating, but might just be black shapes. He walked closer to the sea but the shapes did not resolve themselves one way or the other.

He thought, This is what you come to when all’s said and done. This is where you come, and you come alone.

He’d just stepped out for a while. That’s what he liked to do.

Sometimes he glimpsed – or ‘sensed’ was perhaps more accurate – something else on the water. He didn’t know what it was but he didn’t like it. It wasn’t even a thing. It was something above the water, like mist, or something that disturbed it, like a squall.

When this happened it was time to go back. Being out was fine, but going back in was necessary.

A question formed at the edge of his vision. Are you losing it?

He wanted to take his shoes and socks off, roll up his trousers and paddle in the moonlight. But he was afraid if he did he would just keep walking, wading out towards that thing, whatever it was.

This was another warning sign, having thoughts like that.

He didn’t want to go. He liked being alone, on the beach. He liked being out.

But he would have to, or they would come looking for him.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harp: Esther Swift
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