Academic journal article Hecate

Breakupbeach

Academic journal article Hecate

Breakupbeach

Article excerpt

Break-up Beach

Cordoned off by an eight lane highway, a bluestone Wall, and then surrounded again by heavy industrial buildings, is the beach that I had planned for our stop. On the map it looked like the perfect romantic site -- a long sprawling beach surrounded by lots of green. The green, however, was not for trees, national parks or even grazing land but to show where the industrial estates were along the highway. It was an old map. `I guess it will do,' I say, knowing that it really won't. `If only for a quick stretch and a bite to eat.'

On the beach front, semi-trailers changing gear drown out any sea-side noises. Not that there would be much. There aren't any birds. The water is flat. Still. More like a lake than part of a great ocean. The only movement it gives is where it meets the shore, and then it merely gives little insidious laps with the persistence of a metronome. It's the sort of beach that comes back to haunt you in dreams, or nightmares, empty, void of any people. `Yes, we're here now,' she says as if it were a fundamental truth. After scanning the beach for what I assume must have been other people, she gives it the nod of approval and says: `It's a good place to talk.'

The roundness of the bay is broken only by piers. These long graceful match-sticks that reach out towards the deep look too delicate to walk out on. So we don't venture near them. This beach is too solemn and isolated for the type of intimacy I had in mind. `Why don't we keep driving. I`m sure there must be something nicer further up?' I say hopefully.

The sand is intermingled with small volcanic rocks and bits of broken bottles. Both signs of previous action.

My sandshoes are soggy. They are not very appropriate beach wear. Sand is sticking in clumps to my soles. It has crept inside the shoes. My laces are wet too. There is a sign that says `Danger -- Strong Rips -- Swim At Own Risk,' but I think that the pollution would far outweigh any threat from undercurrents. The edges of my jeans are wet. The extra weight is pulling them down onto my hips. And, although it's not that cold, my body has got goose-bumps. I don't like this place much. `Let's get out of here', I say with all the lightness I can muster.

`No,' she says with a firmness that I find strange. `Here is as good as anywhere.'

This is a bleak place without the usual symptoms of bleakness. No cold blustery wind. No sand or rain pelting your legs and cheeks. But there is a chill factor. I'm sure it's not just me.

`I don't think it's just me...', she says towards the sea, `but it could be.' I pretend the wind has carried her voice away and I can't hear her. I wish there were a wind booming past me so then I could just look at her beautiful, talking face and nod and smile, not understanding a word she's said and her being none the wiser. But the air is still and I am left smiling stupidly, taking in the scene, trying to remember what I wanted to say.

I can smell cigarette smoke. I smell it in the same way as I have smelt other people's smoke before on the buses and trains. …

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