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Postcards for the Blind

by  pumpleton

Posted: Monday, July 11, 2005
Word Count: 3130
Summary: Structurally experimental piece with which my aim was to produce a written equivalent to an M.C. Escher painting

Postcards for the Blind

Fish and Chips by the Sea

We sit on the floor in the bandstand by the old lifeboat station. It looks deserted but every so often we hear hammering coming from inside. I stand up.
’Are you full already?’ says Mum. I shake my head and walk over to the side of the building. The windows are quite high up and I can’t see in, even when I stand on my tip toes. My dad comes over and lifts me up. Inside a man with one arm is beating the rudder of a boat with a piece of pipe. He catches sight of me and stops, stands up and walks over to the window. I ask my dad if he’ll let me down but my dad doesn’t hear. The man stands there staring at me. I close my eyes but his dead eyes just hang in the blackness behind my eyelids. Eventually he turns away and disappears into the shadows.
’Can you see anything?’ says dad.
’No,’ I reply.
’I don’t think they use it for lifeboats anymore,’ says Dad. I shake my head but he doesn’t notice. I want to see the man again so I know I didn’t imagine him but dad lowers me down. ’You’re definitely getting heavier,’ he says and then adds: ’Or I’m getting older.’ Mum shrieks. Seagulls are dancing around her pecking at the chips that I left. My brother is holding his food over his head. Dad runs over waving his arms and laughing. I turn back to look at the old lifeboat house. The peeling red paint makes it look like it’s covered in scabs. I shiver and walk back to my parents.

On the Rocks part 1

Neptune take me. Poseidon draw me down to your kingdom and soothe my heart. Brush away my tears with your salty touch. He dribbles at my feet and slinks backward when I go to meet him. Shy, impotent boy. Take me, I mean you no harm. I sit down on his craggy ribs and hitch my skirt up.

’Come to me,’

I whisper. I imagine him dashing up the rocks and carrying me away, that period of weightlessness as I sink into his embrace. His movements slow, even to the point that I can no longer tell whether he is breathing at all. I lean forward and blow him a kiss. Shy, impotent boy. Why are you afraid of me? Is it the boundary that you must cross? That first step out into the abyss of my body, hoping that I will catch you and soothe your fears. That is not the way it must be, sweet Sir.

’I love you’

Risk weighed up against potential success except that only I know the odds. Your lighthouse emits a seeking glow that is absorbed into the blackness of my soul. What do you see when you close you eyes? Where is your lighthouse now? He draws away from me, blushes with the evening’s light and then lets out a long deep sigh that fill the air with his claggy expiration. I lie back, and say nothing so that he can hear the inflection carried in my breath. Today my love, today.

Sea Mist

We are exactly nine metres ahead of her parents when the fog rolls in. Their calls penetrate the tiny circle of sand from every direction until eventually they fade to silence. I keep walking in a straight line.
’Stop please,’ she says.
’I’m sorry, I don’t understand English. I’m a donkey,’ I reply.
Runa giggles. ’Well you speak it perfectly.’
I nod. My training at the Institute of Equine Education had particularly focused on diction and enunciation. ’Only the best for a Prince,’ I mutter.
’I beg your pardon?’
’Only the best for a Prince,’ I repeat.
’A Prince?’
’I was presented to the young Prince Percy on his 10th birthday.’
’So what are you doing here?’
’Terrible bad luck. Little blighter tickled my snout and made me sneeze. Bit the poor little fellow’s nose clean off. Barely escaped the knacker’s yard you know. Terrible bad luck.’ She strokes the length of my ear and I sigh. The sea returns a sigh from the depths of the mist, which is then echoed by Runa.
’Where are we?’ she says.
’Not far from anywhere,’ I say.
She gets a comb out of her bag and carefully divides my mane to either side. When she has finished she wraps her arms around my neck. ’Forward sweet steed,’ she whispers.

We come across a derelict sandcastle standing in the gloom. I stop and Runa dismounts, takes hold of my reins and we set off around the fortifications.
’Look there’s a hole in the wall,’ she says.
’We shouldn’t’’
’But the moat’s completely dry.’
I stare at the sand.
’Come on,’ she says giving the reins a little yank. We cross the moat and enter the keep across the crumbling wall. Runa kicks at one of the sandstone blocks and fills the air with grit.
’Silly ass.’ I say and lick the sand from my eyelashes.
Runa spits dramatically and then rubs her lips with her sleeve. I smile at her and she stops.
’What?’ she says.
I shake my head.
’Are you coming or what?’ she grabs my reins and marches onwards. We walk around the outer keep. ’Look at that!’ she says pointing to the corrugated enamel finish of the tower tops. ’They’re like sea shells.’
I nod.
’I wonder who lived here,’ she says. I shrug. On top of one of the towers, a starched flag bearing the emblems of a red lion and a white eagle sticks out.
’Can you imagine what it would be like to live here?’ she says. ’The smell of the Wednesday markets and the beautiful conch horns that would call the people to the palace gates to listen to the king’s speeches.’
The sea’s sigh echoes around the keep walls. It sounds hungry. I tell her that we need to leave. She climbs up on my back and buries her face into my mane. When we get over the wall I stop, ankle deep in water.
’What is it?’ she mumbles, her face still hidden.
’See for yourself.’
She sits up and I hear her gasp. ’The moat’but it was dry before.’
I nod.
’That means we’re trapped.’
I nod again. ’We need to find somewhere higher up.’ I turn and scramble over the wall. ’Let’s try on of those towers.’ I follow back along the route we have taken and stop by the first tower. ’Try that door,’ I say.
She jumps off my back and dashes up the steps to the door. ’There’s no handle,’ she says.
’Come on then. Quickly!’ We run together along the shadowy streets trying each door but find them all impassable. We come to a stop by the wall. The sea gurgles behind us.
Runa’s knees buckle and she sits down with her head in her hands. ’I can’t swim,’ she sobs. I glance behind us. The dark line creeps forwards until I notice the sand beneath us changing colour. I step towards her and nuzzle her face. It’s coated with water.
’What are you doing? You should be thinking, not washing,’ I say. ’Stupid donkey,’ she says. ’Do you not know anything?’
I step away from her and hang my head.
’I’m sorry,’ she says and stands up. ’Stupid castle,’ she shouts and kicks the wall.’
’I’m not sure that’s going to do any’’ The wall thunders down. Her foot is the size of an elephant and he is as tall as the sky. She kicks at one of the towers and sends the gleaming roof crashing to the ground, giggles and then tramps her way along the length of the western wall, squashing it flat. ’Was that absolutely necessary?’ I ask.
Runa stops and grins at me. ’I forgot that it was only a stupid sandcastle.’
’Yes, well just in time I say.’ I glance about at the destruction. ’Shall we go?’
Runa nods and then climbs up onto my back. We head inland away from the incoming tide.

They always get what they want

We face each other down and then she starts shouting at me again. The mark of rouge across her lower lip accentuates her sulky demeanour. I watch her friends pecking about, apparently ignoring our conversation. I know them better than that. I take a bite out of my sandwich, trying to ignore her presence but this succeeds in angering her further. She uses that tongue to spear hearts. Not mine though, not today. She shuffles back to her flock. They eyeball her and then bicker about who to harass next. I watch them for a while and then let my head flop back and allow the sea to reflect my thoughts until I feel the overwhelming desire for more food. My hand traces along the plane of the wood. Paint splinters at my finger tips. Nothing. I look up and she stands a few yards from me tearing the sandwich pinned beneath her foot. She stops for a moment and winks at me. They all want something don’t they? Sometimes you give it readily; sometimes they take it when you’re not watching. They always get what they want.


Last night I dreamt that a shark took my arm. The arm that I’ve never had. The arm that was my brother. I was swimming in the water off the coast off my home town and I could see all the way down to the bottom. Birds circled above and gradually dropped through the thermals until they splashed down into the water around me. I looked down and a shoal of fish had gathered beneath me, circling as if to reflect the birds above. Predator and prey spiralled in, controlled by their inherited instincts until they met at this predetermined battleground. The birds sat silently, waiting for the moment when the shoal would pass near enough to the water’s surface and they could dive down into its churning mass. The dark body slid by beneath me. I wondered why the birds were so silent in their vigil. Black eyes, reflected my head as we bobbed together in the water. The sea began to boil from the kinetic mass of the shoal and then my arm brushed along the length of something big. I thought:

It’s strange that I had that arm because I don’t have that arm,

and I held it up out of the sea and just looked at it. When I put it back in the water the sea turned red. Red is my favourite colour, the colour of the setting sun, the colour of roses, the colour of our lifeblood. I thought:

This is a happy dream,

and then I noticed that the birds had gone had the fish had stopped churning the sea. I felt the pressure in my arm first but this gave way to numbness then my arm began to twist at the shoulder. I will not forget that pressure. Pressure that can snap ligaments and splinter bone. Slow and firm. I don’t know why I didn’t twist with it. The shark rolled slowly and only my arm followed, the skin spiralling round and round like a rung towel. Then the bone cracked and my limb flapped loosely in its epidermal sling before, with a sharp tug the shark tore away the flesh. Then it turned away and sank beneath the flat surface of the water. I thought

This is the moment that you wake up, you wake up and you scream,

but I just stayed there, bobbing about in that glassy sea. The trail of blood taken by some current out towards the horizon and swallowed up by the greedy sun. I watched it set, watched the darkness creep over me from the East until I couldn’t see a thing and then the water became my drenched sheets and the depths of space above became the ceiling of my bedroom.

I waited until my heart slowed to a rate that allowed me to move about without fear of my arteries splitting then I got up and dug out my book on behavioural ecology. Fish shoal for a specific reason. There’s safety in numbers. To strike out alone increases the risk of predation, whereas you greatly reduce your chances of being eaten if you coagulate; form one huge entity and hope for the best. I sat down on my bed and slid the book under my pillow. I lay down and I thought of my brother, knowing that I had to become the shark, knowing what I must do. Sleep came without fear.

The afternoon light sags as I descend the cobbled path towards the shore. Home is a very long way away. The thought of separation unbalances me and I lean my empty shoulder against the whitewashed wall of a cottage. There is no sea today. The performance is closed, shielded by a grey curtain. A little girl stands watching me from the promenade. She holds the reins of a donkey in her right hand and just watches me. I glance at my shoes and think about him and her. Gemini separated by love. I gather myself and set off again towards the old lifeboat station.

On the Rocks part 2

Looking towards the horizon you know there’s another country out there, somewhere. A whole world across that expanse of water. Spray sprites tumble around before my face as the waves slap the rocks. The sound of gunfire in the distance, of displaced air molecules shaped into a bubble and burst by the water’s power. The sea invites freedom. Freedom from gravity and ultimately freedom from life. Her aura’s caress on my cheeks.

’Come to me,’

she says. I imagine myself stepping off, the period of weightlessness and then being swallowed by the water. Like with everything else in life, we create barriers. Barriers that stop me from stepping into the ocean. Barriers that stop me from leaving, from saying:

’I love you.’

Risk weighed up against potential success. My body shattered by her embrace, her barnacle nails graze my skin. She loves me, she wants and though others have denied me, I now step towards her. She draws back, trying to coax me nearer but I turn away. I wipe her spittle from the back of my head. Not today my love but maybe, someday. Until then I’ll let you wait. We’ll flirt and then I’ll leave you wanting more, wanting me in my entirety. Her muffled cries follow me until I can walk no further, her tears fall around me and we sigh together. Mine reflects hers reflects mine. Not today my love, not today.

What the Sea Got and What it Gave Back

It was the TV that we spotted first, bobbing in the sea about a hundred metres out. I clung to my father’s back as he swam through the water towards the discarded appliance. After we had got it to the shore we dug a small hole for it and piled some more sand up to make a bench so that we could sit and watch it. There was no aerial, so the picture was flecked with static however we could still make out a few of the channels. On Channel Five there was a programme about a shark attack. A man was out swimming in some tropical sea and got caught up in the middle of a shoal of fish that was being hunted by sharks. One of the them bit off the man’s arm. It was disgusting so I changed the channel. On Four was a comedy where a man was being pestered by a seagull. I watched this for some time until by brother noticed that more items had been washed up on the sand. My mother shouted for us to be careful as we ran down to see what else we could find. My father was a few metres ahead of us. A soggy armchair lay on its side in the shallows and a vase of roses bobbed upright a short distance from the shore. I swam out and got the vase whilst my brother and my dad carried the armchair up to where we’d set up the TV. I noticed that the vase rattled so I set it down and removed the roses laying them side by side on floor. Then I turned the vase upside down and an empty vodka bottle dropped out of it. My mother ran over and stopped me before I had the opportunity to inspect it properly.
’I told you to be careful,’ she said as she snatched the bottle up.
’Sorry,’ I said as she walked back up to the circle of windbreaks. Mum dropped the bottle into the Threshers bag we were using to store our litter. I dusted the sand off the roses and arranged them in the vase. Then I placed the vase at the end of the bench away from the armchair. We went back down to the water and waited to see if anything else would get washed up. Nothing came so we went back to sit around the TV. I flicked through the channels whilst my dad positioned himself in the armchair. One, Two and Six had all been tuned into the same station. There was a film on about a one-armed sailor who had lost the love of his life to his brother. He got drunk and swore that he would never return to that island. As he was about to leave his love returned and said that she wanted to come with him. They set off to sea but the sailor’s brother had tampered with the boat’s rudder and they crashed into some low lying rocks. The boat sank and the pair were left stranded on the outcrop with the water rising. Then the credits started and we were all left wondering whether they got off those rocks alive or died in each other's arms.

My brother said he was cold and my mother was half way through packing our stuff up so we decided that we should go and get fish and chips. By the time we got up the cliff to the car it had started to spit. My father said it was lucky that we left when we did because there was obviously a storm brewing. Below a girl rode a donkey along the sand a few metres in front of her parents. The waves beat against the cliffs and in the distance I could see where the water frothed over the rocks of Gilly Point.