And they were never seen again.
Cold dark waves like chocolate shavings, assailing the frosted grainy icing of a winter beach. Anemones and urchins know. The herring gulls think they know. Sea monsters might possibly know. We are utterly betrayed by the pretenders to the royal court of Happily Ever After, within the cruel kingdom of Some Day Soon.
I remember the two of them – arm in arm, sweetly curious, as if fresh-weaned kittens had developed hard science – combing the lacerated beach, scrutinizing reeking bones, shells, asking of all that capital-D-death what may have brought its unique chill to pass, at last.
“What is this? Do we know?”
Oh, yes, that, of course, curiosity and the cat… along with that most chilling of clichés: Never. Seen. Again.
No monsters now. Just the lap and draw and slow allure of saltwater, over and over and over. Sucking and soothing. Whispering, like Highland mothers, “wheesht” to the stilted watchers, the quiet witnesses so wholly lost in the face of sorrow, so sorrowful in the lap of loss, so strained in the lacy flutter-and-flap of their licit and illicit loves. Beneath a leaden sky. Beneath all effective notice anywhere.
Three-finned fish limp and hump through wet mud. Something wretched with the spreading bloom of its own impending end mewls, infected, feeble. A drooping sun drops beyond it all.
“Pass me that scoop. That lens. Those slides. Somehow, we must preserve all this.”
We measure. We forget. We measured. We forgot.
The great heaving ocean once redolent of ramshackle life, salted, pungent, exuberantly sharp, now just reeks of something so utterly dead the ancient stars preen and pulse.
We look on, almost and even recalling the strides we took, the surf we rode, the honour we stole, the dirt we spilled, the balls we juggled, the plates we spun, the strings we plucked, the feasts we gorged, the grapes we trod, the lambs we slit, the blood we let, the steps we skipped, the fires we loosed, the love we snubbed, the holes we bored, the pricks we jabbed, the…
…the actual shrieking horrors we awoke, lacking any sedative. Or all perspective.
In the saltspray, hearing squalls, offering despair, thanking ourselves, raining stupid on our own parade, lurching nowhere, dark, dim, harrowdown.
Go away now. We are done. They are done. The subliminal drone is gone.
The End has never, ever sounded this dumb.
* * * * *