On the morning they buried my uncle, I arose sleepless and before any one else was awake, ran down through the village, empty but for a paper boy muffled in earphones and singing his own private melody to the echoing streets.  The nights mist was thinning and the sea was so far out across the beach, it merged with the wet sand in a golden shimmer.  An Oystercatcher called, sharp and urgent, as I turned into the sun and ran towards Melbourne, my shoes leaving deep prints in the sand. 

Ahead I saw a line of posts, leaning like soldiers asleep.  I read the notice.  Naturist area. 

I looked around.  The wide beach was empty except for a flock of gulls crying over the water.  In one quick movement, I removed vest and shorts and shoes and holding them to me at a crouch, hid them in the dunes by the float.  I remembered my uncle on his white slab in the mortuary as, bereft of clothes, I skimmed over the sand, chasing the light.  Free from the night’s torments and forgetting the jiggle of shame,  I  sped down the beach, sole and heel thumping rhythmically on hard sand.  The sun shone warm against stomach and chest, the breeze was cool over my shoulders.  My mind repeated the same mantra as I allowed my legs carry me further from the cares of the day. 

Far along the beach, much further than I had gone before,  the shining formed itself into buildings, cranes, people walking dogs.   Suddenly self conscious,  I thought of the house awaking, people arriving in dark suits and medals, long black cars, the church and flowers. 

My watch was in the sand, but the sun was higher and further inland.  I had to get back.  The sun was on my back now, pushing me along,  but my feet splish-plopped on the incoming tide and threatened to trip me up.   

After an age of fatigue,  I saw the posts, and with panic rising in my chest, raced up to the spot in the dunes where I had left my clothes.   The yellow float was there attached to a frayed, faded green rope, but shoes, vest,  shorts and any hope of dignity were all long gone.  

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