A contest entry for Taboo words.
|The summer crowds have all but disappeared. Only the hardy, all year round group of swimmers gather in the morning gloom.
In the east the sky has a barely discernible pink hue. My new fitness regime forced me to leave my warm bed at this god-forsaken time of the morning and I wonder at the wisdom of my choice as I jog the icy cold wetness along the water’s edge. I run barefoot, skipping away from the occasional wave, intent to catch me unawares.
Rover loves these fresh mornings, he cares nothing for the power of the pounding of the ocean as he swims far out to retrieve the ball.
I reach the pier, my self-imposed finish line, and stop, jogging on the spot. I bend over to catch my breath. My lungs feel as if they’re on fire and I realise, not for the first time, how I’ve let myself go. At last my heart slows to a more natural rhythm and I turn around to begin the return journey, noticing how much lighter the sky has become.
“Come on, Rover!” I call, but he’s digging frantically, the excavation almost as big as he is, until at last he finds what his nose had told him was there for the taking. He raises his head at my call, yellow-coloured shingle clings to his black face and eyelashes. I laugh, he looks so comical. The carcass of a long dead bird hangs from his mouth, black wet feathers engrained with fine white sand. The head droops down but I can see its dead eye looking longingly skywards. The smell of decay reaches my nose.
“Drop it!” I instruct the dog who obediently does so at my feet as if he is giving me an exceptional gift.
“Come on boy, let’s get back.”
The tide has scattered detritus on the shoreline, leaving objects high and dry. An old rubber flip-flop and a rotten plank of wood lie side by side. I wonder if there is a story to be told using these two items. My writer’s brain never really shuts off.
I begin to jog once more and find a comfortable rhythm. I can at last turn my mind away from the effort of running and towards what this wonderful, as yet unknown day has to offer.
A flock of birds heading to who knows where, screech and whirl above me, maybe searching the water below for breakfast.
I reach the “Polar Bears,” a group of ten or so old folk drying themselves after emerging from their morning exercise. Slowing my pace as I get nearer, I stop to talk to them. “Hi guys, pleasant swim?” I ask breathlessly. A man stops towelling the salty water from his wrinkled skin and says. “It’s always good, son. You should join us, we need a bit of young blood in the group.”
“How long have you all been coming here?” I ask.
“Some of us have been swimming here at sunrise every day for thirty years or more. Winter or Summer, it makes no difference to us.”
They all seem to be happy, even on such a wintry day. I wave goodbye and trudge up the incline to the carpark, Rover is reluctant to follow as he spies another dog in the distance.
I stop walking to wait for him to catch up and look back at the rolling waves crashing on to the shoreline. Breathing in deeply the distinctive smell of the ocean, a mixture of ozone, salt water and the faint smell of fish, I hope I can keep the promise to myself to do this every day. At least today was a glorious start.
Word count 617