He is wearing casual clothes and he walks along the bit of the beach where no one goes.
He would like to say that he is at ‘One’ with nature. He thinks that that sounds a bit too poetic and unachievable (given the circumstances). An ice cream with a chocolate flake would bring him back, but he has deliberately walked away from the obvious. He has walked too far along the beach and he knows it. He doesn’t want to be wearing these jeans and knitted sweater. He doesn’t want to be wearing these socks and trainers. he doesn’t want to be wearing this face. And then a dog appears in the distance. A dog appearing in the distance means that it is taking it’s owner out for a walk on the beach. He does not want to see them and, for some strange reason, he is more worried about the dog seeing the face he is wearing than the owner.
If the owner of the dog comes from behind the dunes calling for the dog , he will cope. Will he cope? – Yes, he will cope. He is still capable of saying something like “It’s a bit breezy today”. He is still capable of smiling alongside the phatic exchange. But the dog will see through him. The dog will smell every thought that is going through his mind. He will throw his thoughts away, just for a moment until they have walked past him to another part of the beach. He will throw his thoughts away just for a moment and hope that the dog does not think that they are a stick to bring back to him.
They have gone.
I want to be wearing a dress he says to himself. I want to be wearing a dress he says to the sea, the slack sea. I want to be holding a pink bucket and spade he says to himself. I want to be looking for pretty sea shells he says to himself.
He is alarmed when the sea whispers a phatic, affirmative response -” You can” she yawns.
I must go home, he thinks. I must go home, he says.
One day, when the tide turns – I will be ready.
The owner of the dog says “Hello” to the Woman. The Woman is reading the Sunday papers and she greets them with a smile. The dog waits and sits by the hatchback, convinced that one day the handle will be dog friendly and a wet nose will open the catch. He opens the catch and the dog jumps up into the warmth. He sits in the car with her, finds one of the soggy tomato sandwiches and scrums for the sports pages.
“Was there anyone else on the beach?” she asks him (glancing up from a theatre review).
“Yes” he responds.
“That’s strange” she says
“Yes” he replies.