Skylarks by Chris Beausang

‘Bow’ was not the right word for it, this part of the dinghy which faced the closing shore. No part of the boat embodied the robustness that ‘bow’ might have implied. A dinghy cannot split the sea, it cannot bound upwards to loom over a wave’s whitened finger, it could only be led across the surface, be drawn into the inlets of either side. There was something inevitable about his arrival now, and he began to wait for the charge of the bay’s grounds encountering the hull, surface against surface.

wwwwssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh…wwwssssssshhhhhcchhhhhhhhhh…wwwwsssssSSSSssssscccchhhhhh…wwwssssshhhhhhh…wwwwwssssSSSSssssscccchhhhh

The breakers revealed themselves intermittently, visible beneath liquid strings, glossy stones caught in the whitewash, before they disappeared beneath the surface as it unfurled, descending again after having caught their breath. It was difficult to tell how far out they were, but maybe you could trace their outlines, the suggestions of them, beneath the blue.

He vaulted over the edge, and pulled the lower half of himself through the water, feeling, as the cold rushed them, his shoes’ ruination; each time he set one of them down, the sole would become half-lodged in the sea-bed’s muck. Sparsely grassed dunes lay beyond the greying bed of sand, and he began to hear the first sounds of the land, beyond the hush of the waves as they were called into retreat. The birdsong’s notes were restless and nondescript, but he was sure that there was one to be heard above the others, moving in an arc, aiming for something, maybe falling just short. He had given himself to the song, and as a smile made its way across his face, his eyes did not resist. The dingy was surrendered to the caprices of the bay, and it began to turn, veering away from him again, as he made for the dunes beyond.

His bones were not ready for the solidity of the dried sands when he reached them, it felt as though their surfaces stopped too soon, like there should be more give. He did not recline in the first dune that he came to, but postponed his gratification, a first, a second time, before coming to one on which he would depend, sinking low. He had not slept in days, and his fatigue had begun to make sense to him, as if it were not something to be ceded to, as if it was to remain. And what harm? It took an effort to see things now, but when he did, he could just look and look. What he beheld required no more of him. He felt too tired to sleep anyway, unless he were to sleep here, half-
purposefully, like a doze on a train. The potentiality of it had grown around him as he had approached, and swelled as he lay.

He turned his head, and saw, thick as butter, a clutch of yellow flowers reaching out over the sand towards him.

Primrose, he thought.

Chris Beausang was born, and continues to live in, Dublin. He is currently completing a PhD thesis relating to literary modernism and its resurgence within the novels of Anne Enright, Eimear McBride and Will Self. He is currently working on his first novel.