The sound of the waves called him to the shore. They didn’t whisper his name but they called him just the same.
From his room in the city he heard their call: in the ‘whoosh’ of vehicles passing, in the lift as the doors shut, captured in the passing of a plane overhead as it’s drone bounced off skyscrapers, the rustle of papers on the rush hour train… he heard the sea at every turn, even as he put his head on the pillow that night.
When he woke the next morning, he decided he wasn’t going in today. After phoning and mentioning a migraine in his lacklustre apology he, like a man possessed, grabbed his wallet and keys and ran out of the building towards the station. He didn’t have much time before the other workers might spot him.
Before he had time to think about it he was on the train. Dawn began to break behind him as the train left the station.
He was wide awake. His only thought was to get to the sea.
Madness had taken him. He didn’t mind, he was glad to watch the change in the landscape as city turned to suburbs and suburbs turned to countryside.
An hour of fields, forests, hills, lakes calmed him.
He knew he was close so he stopped looking out of the window. He wanted his first view of the sea to be real, not through glass with scratches and graffiti.
As the train pulled in he put his head down and walked towards the exit knowing that in 5 minutes he’d be there in front of it.
Not many people got off, hundreds got on, ready for their day of work.
He wasn’t going to work today, today he was going to breathe.
He could smell it. If he lifted his head he could have seen it but he kept his head down and pushed through the commuters rushing for their next train.
Standing at the crossroads, his finger pushing the button over and over, he wondered if he should have brought swimwear.
The traffic finally stopped and he was free to cross, 30 more strides and he’d be at the rail, follow the railing and he’d be on the sand. The traffic started moving behind him as he put his hand on the rail.
The tension in his neck doubled.
So desperate to look yet so desperate not to look had made his muscles taut. Taking a deep breath through his nose and filling his lungs he saw the sand ahead and he let the air out as he stepped onto it.
He lifted his head, turned to the sea and strode out, eyes wide open.
He’d got lucky, no one was there yet.
There were fresh footprints but no one about.
Paw prints and bird’s prints told him stories he didn’t care about.
The traffic noise had gone, taken over by the rush of blood in his head.
Slowly he focussed on the waves lapping on the shore as he stepped towards them.
He stopped and took his shoes and socks off. Leaving them on the drier sand, he stepped into the water, the cold was shocking but he was determined to be surrounded by the sea’s call.
He was there.
He closed his eyes and breathed with the sea. Sunk a little into the sand. Breathed again. Swayed with the sea. Allowed the sea in until he was part of it. The sea became she.
She breathed with him. She filled his mind. She touched him. She held him. She took him out to the depths. She let him float. She pulled him down and swallowed him. She caressed his brow. She held him closer. In her he felt peace. In her he was silent. In her he was happy.