Many people would say she walked alone. Always a similar route, the morning’s excitement perhaps diverting the foot over a different root. But same old, they call it. Not that they know that each journey was fuelled by individual narrative. After all, she would always diverge from the beaten track and work her away down the gorse coated cliff-edge. The vegetation could hardly be described as growing but more like ‘defending’ – liked the bristles upon a pock-marked face, there seemed to be layer after layer of this natural, narcissistic anger, and it filled her with a kind of triumph that her own daily walk had started to wear patches, pathways even, in the gorse. She told herself that it was otherwise unstopped, a sequence only her and the elements witnessed.
Yet within herself she recognised that the more one treads the path, the more likely other will be to follow it; even though this was the path of desperation, of anguish and fear. The routes she wormed along sobbing when she felt utterly distant.
She would work away through the gorse every afternoon, in order to come out into what would be typically considered as an unimpressive cove. It was a cove of sorts, but rather than the atypical arc so often laminated in holiday brochures, it was like what constitutes a mouth inside a shattered jaw. Raw and saturated rock jutted into the sea at obscured angles, agitated by the endless toil of waves. The sand seemed scattered like a dead confetti at the oceans altar, as if committing the area to a kind of condemnation. It offered both exposure and isolation.
Yet she thought this was an ideal, deserved combination. After all, the sand never remembered her footprints, writhing in the night under the cruelty of the winds. Occasionally the seaweed spat up at her booted feet as she approached the waters edge, feeling the enhanced sting of salt water on the skin of her face, often already touched by gorse. The force of water would replace her angst for a while, and she would smile, often cramming raw, cold food into her mouth – still irritatingly conscious of the weight of domesticity on her back; cosmetics, food, the rest.
‘Rest’ ultimately has two meanings, which in this reality simmers down to one. It is attempting to condense the endless, all the ‘otherness’, down to a kind of relaxation . This may be exhibited by styling the limbs or closing the eyes or smiling. But in reality the mind turns over and over, like her hands did through the pebbles at the water’s edge. It was strange that back in the place which would be called ‘inland’ she could sit in a library and sift through friends on the internet, part of a kind of accordance. Yet here she was not sure what her location constituted, not her interpretation, for she was abstract, ostracised – the girl who would stare at rock, how every individual pebble was amusing temporary guise, creased and corroded by water and time, fascinated her.
Her hands had touched stone yet the body surrendered herself every afternoon, as she would wade out into the fizz of water, walking to hip-height. The final thrill of water over bone, almost as if begging to be folded into flesh. The water both addressed sand undressed her, at last with something she felt intimate – even the cold, liquid, lashing, turbulence, the flurry of rejection and simultaneous acceptance, the sudden searing lightness of weight.
And always the weight, weight of memory, as she walked home.