A Holiday From Existence

By Gemma Sidney

This sunset is nothing like my own.

It is not hazy, but pure. It is not obscured by buildings, tired eyes, or reflections of the preceding day. I try but cannot recall the last sunset I was intentionally witness to.

In the dwindling light my mind is a blank. The hairs prickle on my bare arms, not from the cold but from the sensation that I am being watched. I look around me and see nothing but vast, empty beach, a cloudless sky, the sea. This reassures me but not completely. I walk along the sand and, casting my gaze behind me realise that my footprints wind away into the distance. Reflecting on that for a moment, I am not capable of saying how long I’ve been walking for, nor from where I came. I can no longer grasp the concept of time.

All of this is puzzling yet I feel strangely calm. I can’t help trying to think about before. Had I really meant to do it? To come to this in-between place? All that was in my life from before seems so distant now. But I am aware that all this – the beach, the sea, the peacefulness enveloping me – cannot last. I have to go back. I cannot own this beach, this sand… They are not mine either to take or to give. If I could just remember how to get back home…

I look out again over the sea and tentatively dip a toe in the water at the shore’s edge. It’s warm. Before I know it I’ve plunged in up to my neck. The water laps at my ears, gently inviting me into its unknown depths. I look down at my feet, paddling to keep myself afloat, and beneath me the water is so clear. But I can’t see the bottom. I take a deep breath, one last fleeting look at the beach, and dive.

When I open my eyes it takes a moment for them to adjust to the light. I’m in a white gown of crisp cotton, in an immense bed of white linen. The room is bare except for a small nightstand and a simple wooden chair positioned next to the bed. Whoever had been sitting there left behind a magazine open to the crossword puzzle. Only 7 down has been left incomplete. The clue is “secret beach”. Cove, I smile to myself. My gaze is drawn to the window. The flimsy white curtains are open wide. The sun is setting over the murky horizon. I lay back and take it in.

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5 Responses to A Holiday From Existence

  1. Carina Tan-Van Baren says:

    Beautifully written Gemma. So quiet and contemplative. I could hear the soft crash of the waves as you gazed back at your footprints, feel the water’s warmth and see the clear, bottomless depths as you floated.

  2. Tamara Hunter says:

    So wistful, Gemma. Sometimes that urge to escape is overwhelming, but eventually a thread pulls us back to the ground, for better or worse.

  3. alphabetagemma says:

    Thank you for the comments. Luckily there’s that thread, keeping us grounded – sometimes we need it!

  4. jgavinallan says:

    Gemma:
    So restful and full of color and soft sounds. I must send you a picture of the Xepon River, it will give you more dreams such as this.

    I should play some soft music when I reread this.

    Jaye
    người bạn mới của bạn

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