On the tide

This came out of a writing exercise with Vanessa Gebbie at a talk earlier this week.  Here’s Ellie.  She’s in a seaside town somewhere far north of here.  She might go anywhere.  But here she is in a flash.  Thanks to Vanessa for bringing her.

On the tide

It came in on the tide and she picked it out of the bladderwrack.  Bold, sharp-edged brass and she didn’t know what it was – though she thought she should.  The disk of glass over the dial was filled with salt water.  She marvelled at the sheer, flooded truth of it.  So submerged, she thought, and for how long?  Would it ever work again?  Do whatever it had been so lovingly crafted to do?

She could ask Ed.  Ed was a bloke with a workshop.  A bench covered in tools that Ellie couldn’t name.  Ed tinkered there.  That was what he said, as he picked at a sausage roll, gulped cooling coffee.  No-one in Ed’s life stopped him.  Now, as September was dying, Ellie knew they would stop her again.  Mum and Dad would be in touch, checking she’d headed South for the start of term.  Back to the bay room in Leeds with the patch of yellow damp over the bed.  Stop the wandering, Ellie.

Ellie stopped at the Costa on the front.

‘One shot, cinnamon latte, please.’

Sweet and milky.  She knew it made her a baby.  And the heavy brass thing, filling her bag with brine, was a toy.  She felt guilty again.  Whole summer gone and nothing to show but a screaming overdraft.

A little boy was marching a dinosaur around the edge of a low, circular table.  Velociraptor, thought Ellie.  And then she cursed herself.  I’m just a frigid little Aspie kid and it’s no wonder no-one tries.  I am a parody of a parody of someone like me.  She bought Ed a sausage roll.  She bought Ed a large Americano.  She walked to the workshop with the brass thing bashing her calf, dripping through her bag, leaving a trail along the pink paving stones.


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