Glass shoe

The following text is some sort of short story I wrote on the fly, whilst drunk, on my iPhone (in the notes section, as obviously this is what actual writers do) that was meant to be a spoken word piece over a music demo I had recorded. I had planned to narrate it, in an abstract and barely audible fashion over the music, timing the last line to end as the guitars kicked in. Once sober I realised that the tone was too bleak for a piece of music I actually quite liked and was probably far too long. It was also a bit mawkish, as everything tends to be when I’m under the influence so it remained sitting, unread, on my phone. I decided to post it here, as having read it back, it does contain some of the florid sentences I’m fond of and I really love the last line. Maybe someone, somewhere, will enjoy it. Here it is, unedited or corrected, as it came out at 3am, some dark morning.

The seabirds cried and wheeled over abandoned trawlers, Monolithic, rusting until the tides return gave them purpose once more.

The low winter sun gave little comfort and he instinctively pulled the collar of his greatcoat tighter, as if it mattered, oblivious to the long trail of darkness it threw across the sand behind him.

Delicately slipping his watch, a father’s final gift, from his wrist, he laid it carefully upon the sea wall.

It was all that had made the journey with him and the last remnant of a time now past due. It was a fine watch, a fine reminder of joys long since lost and he would not allow it to be lost as he had been lost. It would begin a new journey and lay its ever marching mark on the milestones of another life, perhaps one deserving of being remembered.

He strode into the shallows of the sea, Waves breaking over the brogues that remained upon his feet, the gesture of removing his coat bringing but token sensation from the winter’s wind, It had no pockets left to empty, what little he had possessed was now behind him, left in the grey rooms he had never found himself able to call home.

He had thought, perhaps even hoped, that he would fall into in one last revery and find something left of himself, but there was nothing to hold onto, nothing his minds eye could conjure to delay this inevitable and exquisite journey, just the mournful calls of gulls on a bleak November morning, calling to him perhaps? An unlikely thought, but it brought a broken laugh from a mouth unused to such simple pleasures.

He lifted his foot for one last beginning when, over the gulls and the wind, came a voice,

“Hello? Hello?” she shouted, intrusively carrying contact upon the wind.

He took a few more steps into the churning brine.

“Sorry to bother you, but is this your watch?”

He faltered and for a few seconds all thought, all movement ceased, before long ingrained manners imposed themselves and, although he could not speak, he shook his head in reply.

“It really is a beautiful thing. It’s engraved and everything. I’d hate for someone to have lost something this precious. It looks hand made, a lot of love must have gone into this.”

He turned his face away, salt water at his feet and now at his eyes.

“Yes”, he murmured, “It really is beautiful. Take it. It’s yours.”

“But how do you know? You haven’t even looked at it.” The voice was closer now and he dared not look. “It is yours isn’t it? Well, it’s a lovely day and I’m going to go to the cafe down by the point and get some coffees, you can join me when you’ve finished your sightseeing. If it’s not yours then we can find it’s owner together, It’ll be an adventure.”

Then she laughed and, even as it began to fade whilst moving away across the sand, It was the most gorgeous, tuneful and yet appalling thing he had ever heard. He fell to his knees, into the surf, into the sea. But the cries of the gulls were less desolate now, less cajoling, the sun seemed brighter and rising, and almost, but only almost, unwillingly, he rose, turned, and as everyone will when they hear the right tune, began to follow the music.

The accompanying music can be found here:

Thanks to my good friend Gary Brooks there is now a fully narrated version here.