Saturday, January 24, 2009


Ger plods through the dry sand until he reaches the part the sea has licked clean. He huddles into his coat, fingers feeling the envelope crinkling in his pocket.

He tells himself that the water in his eyes is from the wind.

He lies.

The sand is slick from the retreating tide, shells with tiny pools around them, gulls following the tide.

The nutter is absent, thank god, or he’d have had to be patient and nice, and that would not suit. Not today. He needs to keep today to himself. Hard work, Doug is now. When he was a tiny lad Doug had helped him tie hooks on his fishing line and shown him how to fish for crabs. Then one day Doug told him that he’d joined the army, told him with a big grin that he was leaving forever.

Ger picks up a few flat stones, and a shell with an inside as pink as a sunset. The stones are spun into the water, just like Doug taught him years ago. Before. The shell he keeps.

He pulls the envelope from his pocket, the wind snatching at the paper. He reads the letter through, just in case it has changed since he read it last. The tears threaten, so he stuffs the letter in his pocket and zips it up. He runs to the water’s edge, where the waves keep time with his breathing.

He whoops and runs along the edge of the waves as they foam round his ankles. He yells, he screams, and waves his arms as he goes. He is six years old again.

Doug rises out of the rocks, horror on his face.

Ger stops. “Doug. It’s only me, man. I’ve got a job. I’ve. Got. A. Good. Job.” He grins wide enough to crack his face.

Doug relaxes, smiles vacantly. “A job.”

“Yes, man, a real job, not a part-time-helping-out-Mum job.”

Doug picks over each word like the pebbles he plays with. “You’ll go away, then?” he says. Today must be a good day.

“Yes—not for a while, though. Not for a couple of weeks.” Doug’s blue eyes lose focus. Maybe not such a good day. Or perhaps he’s upset, hurt. “I want lead my own life. I have to get away from here, see. I need to get away.”

Doug is looking skywards, lost again. Looking for Whitey. Ger shrugs. “Bye now,” he says. And as he walks away he hears a twenty year old whisper following him. “I’m going away, Ger. I’ve got away. And I’m never coming back.”

Linda Gruchy


Anonymous said...

I won't waffle on. I just loved this.


Sally Zigmond said...

So do I. The word pictures are beautifully painted.

Jane Smith said...

I hope to have more from Linda, she's such a good writer. Meanwhile, JJ, when can I expect something from you?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but if this is well written, I'm a chinaman! There are a lot of grammar mistakes in this piece and frankly, parts of it make no sense to me at all. Sorry but it just didn't do it for me and as for the words being 'beautifully painted', I beg to wonder if any of you will be published, never mind read!

Jane Smith said...

Anonymous, you're a chinaman.

The main rule here is borrowed from Absolute Write: "Respect your fellow writer". You would have spent your time better pointing out the errors you saw, so that we could either correct them or dispute your opinion. As it is, you're just being rude about the work here and I won't have that. Especially from someone who is too cowardly to post under their own name.

I have your IP address now, and if you post any more anonymous and/or rude messages I'll delete them. Constructive criticism is acceptable; bitching is not. Got that?

Sally Zigmond said...

I am a published writer, Anonymous. And so are many of the other contributors here. Just check out our biographies. I've also worked as an editor. I know what good writing is and Linda's piece is well-written. And the expression is 'grammatical mistakes' not 'grammar mistakes' as 'grammar' is a noun and an adjective is required in this context.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... I seem to have upset you ladies...
This blog seems to be very defensive and I'm so very sorry to have used the wrong terminology reference Grammar. As for 'respecting your fellow writer', I'm not a writer but I do read an awful lot and I'm sorry, but this piece did nothing for me. If you ladies are not big enough to take critisim from a reader then you won't hear anymore from me, not that you want to anyway. I don't say nice things just to please people, and as for you having my I.P address, I'm really not bothered.

Sally Zigmond said...

I don't think you've upset anyone - er - Sophie. There is a world of difference between constructive criticism and rudeness. And your original post was very rude. That rudeness was compounded because you weren't prepared to identify yourself. Constructive criticism gives valid reasons for opinions and suggestions for improvement, if needed. The fact that you couldn't understand Linda's post--probably because you've not read all the previous pieces--reflects more on you than the writer. Oh and if you're going to give yourself a female name, then don't call any of us 'ladies'. In my experience, only men of a certain age do that--to be patronising.

You are perfectly entitled to your opinion but most people who find themselves reading a blog that isn't to their taste, they move away.

Anonymous said...

And, my dear ladies, is exactly what I intend to do. I'm afraid my time is too precious to continue with this drivel...