Pebbles on the Beach – the art of reconfiguration
In my novel Watercress there is an emotional storm as the result of a family secret. After the event I have to decide whether the pieces can be repaired. I found a perfect metaphor for what takes place watching this occurrence on my local beach, after a storm. Initially I wrote it in my journal in the first person but have moved it into third person to become part of the narrative. It is also, of course, a perfect metaphor for life. People who quietly, without fuss, pick up the pieces after a storm and begin again.
The days before the storm were quite perfect, almost paradise. The water was warm and clear – jewel like – she could even see the fish swimming at her feet without the aid of a mask. Every day the intensity of the word to describe the sea increased, parfait, magnifique, superbe, formidable. The water felt like silk and she went in time and time again seduced by its warmth and clarity, entranced by the silver fish weaving amongst her legs. She watched her brown arms under the water almost as if they were separate from her, sea creatures in their own right. She turned on her back and floated in a haze of well being, the sun hot on her face.
When the storm broke those days disappeared as if they’d never existed, it threw everything into disarray. The sea crashed against the shore and only the strongest swimmers ventured in.
After the storm the beach was a different place, rocks and boulders strewn everywhere; it looked like an alien landscape. Sorrel leant over the wall and looked down. The way into the sea had been made impossible by the reconfiguration of the rocks and stones. Then she noticed a man in a swimsuit down on the beach. He was moving backwards and forwards carrying small boulders and rocks. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. She saw this happening time and time again. It was not always the same person, sometimes a woman, sometimes a man. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs. Steadily, quietly without a fuss they were reclaiming the beach. Making it their own again.