Friday, March 6, 2009

Helen's List


Start diet
Get job What? Paid? Voluntary? Local paper
Second-hand car? (later)
Meet new people. Not from university. Clubs? Evening classes?
Rent cottage? How much?
Learn Welsh? Class? Book?
Check trains/buses/taxis?
Leave Graham?


Late afternoon. Low tide. Cool. Two men dig for worms at the water’s edge. A man walks his dog. Beyond them, the pirate ship chugs back to harbour with its cargo of fretful tourists. Above the horizon the sky is navy blue but the sun shines fitfully, netting the seagulls in a silver flash; the cottages tucked beneath the cliff a necklace of shining sweets, yellow, pink and blue.

A woman walks along the seafront, stops and leans over the railings gazing out across the bay. She walks to a bench, picks up a polystyrene chip-tray between her finger and thumb and drops it into a litter-bin (Keep Greyling Bay Tidy) and sits down.

She pulls a notebook from her raincoat pocket and scribbles as the sky darkens further and spits of rain speckle the concrete.

She stops, reads, then slowly tears the page out, screws it into a tight ball and tosses it in the bin. She walks away. The bin is full. The paper ball rolls off and drops into the gutter. A seagull hovers, lands, stabs hopefully, flies off.

A boy on his way home from school dribbles it five hundred yards along the pavement until, bored, he kicks it over the railings.

The sun sets. Rain falls. The tide comes in. Goes out. The sun comes up, veiled and weary. A man walks his dog along the beach. The dog stops at something. Sniffs. The man calls. The dog runs on.

Sally Zigmond


Douglas Bruton said...

Like those bright sweets and netting the seagulls in a silver flash... and I am left wondering if her list will be found and read.

Good read.



I like this a lot. It's something I want to keep reading, in order to understand / find more. It's mysterious and not over-written. You're telling us very little but there's a lot to be told and we sense that we'll find it in good time. If it was part of a novel i'd need more soon, but in this context I'm happy with what you don't tell us.

Anonymous said...

I'm not content for the story to be left at that. I, like Douglas, am wondering what michief that screwed up list will cause.


Douglas Bruton said...

Just in case you are interested... Grayling bay is over the 10,000 word mark. That's quite something, don't you think?


Douglas Bruton said...

Of course, I meant Greyling Bay (with an 'e' not an 'a'!)


Jane Smith said...

My word, Douglas, 10,000 words... and here was I thinking it was quiet over here!

Sally, I do like this piece: it's so restrained, and tells me so much which isn't actually THERE. I bet the list is melted into the sea by now, and Helen is still with Graham, teeth gritted.

Sally Zigmond said...

Helen's still there for now (she's been thinking about leaving Graham for over twenty years but has never actually done anything about, or gone on a diet, or done anything much really except make lists.)

But we've not seen the last of her...