By Emma Lannie
Association: I was picking out lines from Budget Family Room, one of which was, “morning sun into slices of light”. At the same time, I happened to be listening to a playlist a friend of a friend had made, and the last track was Kerouac reading October In The Railroad Earth. The line, “old Frisco, with end-of-land sadness,” jumped out. I liked the serendipity of running into Kerouac twice in the same hour. And “end-of-land sadness” is such a great phrase. I instantly started thinking about end of the world places, coasts, beaches, and then the sun worked its way in, too, quite naturally. So both the blog title, and Helen’s poem were starting points for my story.
The beach in all its hot brightness kept us anchored there. We watched as strangers ran down to the water, jumped waves, went crashing into the depths. We didn’t move. The conversation had left us spent and reeling, unsure of where to go next. The words still clung to all parts of our bodies and tried to creep themselves under our skin, but I think we resisted. I’m certain we resisted.
The towels we sat on were being overtaken by sand, a grain or twenty at a time. And all we could do was breathe in and breathe out again, hoping that we wouldn’t end up Sphinx-like, buried underneath a desert for thousands of years.
Some children playing frisbee; the screams of victory and near-misses.
A gentle breeze.
His hand an inch away from my leg. And that just-above-the-knee part of me wanting to feel his hand there again, under the sun’s full glare, if only once. If only for a second.
The afternoon empty of words. Us emptied of words. And our bodies doing that thing that bodies do, confessing a craving in small frenzied ways. The wetting of lips, the hand moving ever closer, all alert, ears listening for a yes or for something that might end up as a yes, when the silence is finally broken.
We should have never let it happen. Words We Used. Friendships rarely survive these things. We sat there together knowing something had ended. We sat at the edge of the land mass and knew that we couldn’t go back, not to undo things or to make them right. And still the tide came in, came closer.
And even if his hand could have rested against my skin then, it would never have been forever. It would only ever have been a last-chance idea we convinced ourselves was for the taking. Sometimes it’s not good to trust your body with the truth of things. Because without words, and away from the rules of the everyday, the things bodies do mean exactly what you think they do. If something is wanted, you know about it. But in the world you have to refrain from that. And it’s no surprise that the saddest part of any song is the refrain. All the holding-back, the un-allowing yourself to do what it is you most want to do. Until it happens anyway.
Things We Know: the sun will burn hotter; the breeze will trick us into thinking we are okay. And we’ll smile and really try to believe that it doesn’t matter, that whatever happened between us doesn’t change who we are to one another. Only sometimes, not often, one of us will wake in the night with the memory of it and the burning hot of what we wanted then, and what we took. And even when new skin has grown over the old, the damage will still be visible underneath.
Our bodies will always know that this happened.
Emma J Lannie grew up in Manchester, lives and writes in Derby, and blogs here: (http://garglingwithvimto.blogspot.com).