That Day on the Beach
by Abigail George
Part 1 appears in this issue.
Right. Beautiful children are always surrounded by an aura of the mystique of sexuality. Are girls going to grow into being promiscuous or virtuous? Are they going to obtain a degree and change the world around them or make a man happy, serve his needs, butter his toast, make his breakfast, have children, become unhappy, drink too much of that merlot or cabernet, and lose their looks no matter how intelligent they are in the beginning? In their formative years, women do not find romanticism in pornography. They want flowers and expensive perfume. They want a house spacious enough for their family to grow, to fill with the heart’s desires. Everything expensive; expensive, you see.
Everything of the best, you see, you see. But I’m easy. I’m your relief lover. I’m your release. I have a natural-born killer instinct. My physical body is all you’ll ever want, need, desire. I am your conquest. Although you’ll never know anything about my spiritual poverty, only how insatiable you make me feel.
Tender is the night, my darling. We met on a beautiful summer afternoon. It felt like a summer’s day. I wanted to brush your dark hair that framed your features; I wanted to brush it out of your face, out of your eyes. Of course, I immediately fell for you, walked by your side, fell in with you, in step with you, kept up with your pace, warmed to your life, to your genuine dignity. You must understand all I felt was gratitude.
I stopped thinking about the arrival of death. The wish-fulfilment that I sometimes carry with me in my darkest hours, and thoughts of despair. When it comes in waves, fashioned by cutting through the quiet light, I think of you, of us. I watched you very carefully. How you would punctuate your sentences with a hand gesture, and all I could think about was that hand on my wrist, or that hand in my hand. All I could think about was that hand on my shoulder, in the small of my back.
All I dreamed about was that hand on the nape of my neck. And that childhood barriers were no more. I became angelic, ethereal, otherworldly, and you were my prize for all the effortless commitment and refreshing hard work I had put in for all my adult life. That made me feel pure, that washed away all my sins in time. I felt highly favoured.
And then there came turning points, the unquiet otherness of revolution, selfhood illumined, and imagination. You began to inspire me. We did not have to speak for hours or of childhood. Thank you. Thank you for everything that you did for me, and most of all, your generosity, for the long hours that we spent in each other’s other company. Thank you for the laughter that you awakened inside of me, and I am elated that I could perhaps in some small, treasured way have done the same for gifted you.
Thank you for your talents. For passing on your knowledge, your life experience, your influence to me. For wiping away my invisible tears, my rain, and my moods that were like a season of bad weather, for your inspiration and everything that composed itself around that landscape of my picturesque happiness. I know who you are now.
Some days the negativity is still there. I know that that will always be so; it’s a fact of life. But the silver lining is also a fact of life. Golden, golden. Always golden, like my glorious notebook. There is nothing that I can do about that, and there is a succession of men in a never-ending line. I know they will never stay for an indefinite period in my life, but they will teach me for as long as they can all they know about the world around them.
They will accept me for who I am in the role that I decide to play while I am in their company. The petulant child, the docile girl, the gamine adolescent, or the adult woman in her thirties who now accepts her infertility, her education, and her culture as only she can. On her own terms. She will call it self-control, order, and the blurred lines that veil all the legalities in between.
It is not that I want to forget the decisions I made in my early twenties; it is not that I want to forget my depression; it is not that I want to forget about the chosen field of my career, my choices, whether they were the right life choices, whether promiscuity is a lifestyle or phase or why it comes more naturally to some women than it does to others. Fact remains. I remember.
Always will. Goes without saying. What more can I say, offer as proof for my life, for my love, for my desire, for my willingness to surrender, and permitting myself to life, love, desire, and willingness? And now it comes down to this. Yes, I was always going to come around to this. I know why I had to meet you. Both of you.
I’ve accepted what you had to teach me, and this is the time for me to move forward. You are no longer my possessions. My Keats and my Shakespeare. I know why we will never meet again. But I have accepted that now. Why I had to dissolve in that euphoric happiness, and let my spirit be cleansed by it. It’s all coming back to me now with so much intense clarity of thought. The romanticism is coming back to me. I am wiser now. Shelved that day on the beach into memory. A past that is now dead to me.
But the both of you, all of you, will never be dead to me. Wise thoughts. Annihilating wisdom. She did not love me, my mum, but you did. She did not desire any part of me, like the both of you did. One in an introverted, old-fashioned, gentlemanly-like predisposition, and the other madly. I don’t think of you as ancient.
I never thought of you as an old man: perhaps shy when you made your intentions known, what you really were after in the end, I didn’t understand. Let me explain why, or I have explained to the best of my ability here in this story; only it is not a story. For surely you can read between the lines. Read that I am writing to reach you.
Perhaps one day you will get this, only older, wiser, much more advanced than I was. Your skin was only a fabric. You annihilate that day on the beach. Everything negative from my childhood. The lack of mother-love. Her lack of desiring of me as a child, adolescent, and young adult. Conversation with me as an adult woman filled her own needs, and desires.
You are my turning point. You are the inspiration, the fluid escape behind the poetry that I write, and send out into the universe. You are my light. My Southern Cross. You are my lighthouse. ‘You reduced me to a thing’ constructed of an inter-dependant psychological framework: The room that I go to to escape from the rest of the world’s magic, when I want to be alone, or when I want to write. Separate myself from the predetermined original, and cast myself out into the spiritual world.
I had to become the otherworldly, ethereal feminine instead of just existing in the realities of this world. I grow into a shamanic Cinderella in that otherness world, grow attachment to my writing rituals once again. Grow attachment to the invisible. There is a new man in my life. There will always be a new man in my life. I can’t summon up love, adopt it, or yet make the proper adjustments yet. Perhaps this time I will not destroy what has been given to me by God.
You are my manual. You are my survival guide. I must believe now that another man will take your place and that I will love again, but this time, this love, the romanticism that will take place will be different and, once again, I will feel safe. And this man will be a sage. This man will be a scribe. This man will be an artist. This man will do a great many things in his lifetime, and I will be by his side as he builds his kingdom, empire after empire,
So this is why we had to meet. This is why I have to feel a succession of deaths after I write something, put it away before I send it out into the world, like a shaman’s smoke signals. This is why I had to desire you, feel the pain of the mind acutely, and feel anchored by sensitivity.
And love, and the humiliation, the ardour, the embarrassment, the shame, the blessed abundance of wisdom that comes with it all. With wanting it all. If the glove fits. And most of all the measure of it all. Perhaps the next man will be a poet. Rhyming the cosmos telepathically with his eye to the telescope to every star in the fabric of the universe. Will it be under his self-control? Will it make him alert to his innerness, his humanity, humility, his own shimmering depression, and attempt at greatness, or accomplishing great things?
You can talk, and talk, and talk about your empire, and the empires you want to conquer, and the fact that you want to go on to build a kingdom. I’ll be quiet. Rest my head against your shoulder, sit next to you, be your pretty woman, if that’s what it takes. Go down, down, down to the depths of your despair, your moments of humiliation, not mine, of utter desolation — yours, not mine — and I will finger that sacred gold band as if it belonged to me. Imagine all kinds of things. This is what makes me a dangerous woman. This is why I will never be yours for long. Can you imagine all the difficulties of a mental illness? How I will threaten your world, your livelihood?
Instead let me imagine the pure light of the angelic off your face, and learn to erase it from memory. Let me erase the shine of it off your face, dearest, until it is once more like a blank slate. I’ll imagine that white wedding lace, the happiest day of my life that belonged to me and you, our union before God, in front of guests in the church where our children will be baptised. What do you say to that? Cat got your tongue? Are you strong enough to remain by my side, to be my man, to take me on, that and the illness?
Stories are meant for books, for the literary establishment, for publishers and editors. Despair is meant for tortured poets. I can act to death, sometimes with a little success. I can produce many, many wonderful things with my female intuition, and my feminine understanding, and sensitivity: swap recipes, torture spices in the kitchen, wipe down counter tops with smiling finesse, but you will never see that side of me, unfortunately, for long. Soon I will take to my bed. I need my rest. So do the voices that rain down on my parade, rain down on me like coins in Ezra Pound’s metro. And I will go from Alba to Orlando, the face of love to camping out in a mysterious desert in the wilderness surrounded by shrub, and heatwaves. So this is it, then, for me. Time to say adieu.
Time for me to go from happy-go-lucky to frustrated. It can take me hours to do menial chores or not to do them at all. Parting, lover, is such sweet sorrow but, like everything, I do it damn well. I impress as I move from the world of the ordinary mundane, the ordinary madness, to the world of very real, very exquisite madness.
I need books. What you don’t understand is I need my books. Without them, to be quite honest, I feel quite lost; I don’t have the energy to take a shower, wash my hair, and brush the tangles out of it. I need information. Anything will do. Take this shroud away from me. The darkness. The negativity. The depravity. Give me up instead to purity. I don’t know why it’s not making any sense to you when it makes perfect sense to me. I need plenty of them. I need them around me. Covet them. I need them within reach. Need to make sense of the words. I need to find something to do. To fill up my personal space, the hours in the hospital, To keep me from going bored, or high, or low; depressed that I cannot keep you, have you, consume you at any time or hour of the day. And in my writing the highs, and lows shows. There is no more you; therefore there is no more inspiration.
There is no more ardour. Once childhood governed me, like that day on the beach with my mother always governs me. She’s dancing away from me, out of my reach. And I’m dying a fate worse than death. Doesn’t every child who is at first vaguely aware of the lack of mother-love? I’m always rewinding that death cassette. And I dance too slowly to the music.
I can never catch up to her elegance, although I wish that the two of us could be watching television together right now. Though I’d be reading, engrossed in a novel, and you’d be watching the World Cup. But the reality of the situation is that you probably are. And the woman in your life is your wife.
“Confess. Confess,” I hiss. You will not be under any obligation to be there, from relapse to recovery, although I would want that very much. But I would want you to know that without my telling you. Do you worry for me, darling? Darling, well don’t. I don’t want your pity. There is no remedy for it anyway. No remedy for this chronic illness. Electricity and I go good together. We’re perfect for each other. It cuts right through like a blade. You put that blade against my wrist, and what else do you do but put pressure on it? Blood divine.
Oh, blood divine.
Copyright © 2020 by Abigail George