I’d managed to book Rathlin for Monday sailing and an overnight, miscalculating that I’d three nights before that was happening. The Backpackers Hostel on the Promenade looked tacky outside but Ann-Marie kept a homely comfortable place that felt like mine. Sophie’s advice about hosteling with private rooms was bang on. (German pyro-eejit, out of sight) Realising I might be exceeding reasonable chips and ice cream cone portions, it was time to move on. I booked a night twenty minutes along the coast, in Ballintoy before Rathlin, and thirty minutes along the coast in Portrush after. Here’s a short story I wrote before leaving….
The outdoor gym is crawling with weans; the age abandoned allocated play park. Besides them, striped shirt hairy man writes, pound-saver bargain book resting on a round grey granite table. So smoothly sculpted from the rock, his fingernails are left with no scratch as they move under the pen. The people saunter. It’s a holiday and he wouldn’t mind some sex. Under 500 words ought to allow him the quickie he desires, but no. He wants time with the reader, the return of communications. He doesn’t know, despite experience, if the book will reach multitudes. He sensually caresses hyper-narrative.
From the park’s edge, Andy looks out over the final green hump. The two ginger boys are still playing, now joined by a man. They’re in matching navy coats, they could be twins. Sand trivia chucks have become a mound, brittle sticks waving battlement’s pains. The man with them doesn’t get involved, merely contemplates, his body stretching light. After a while he walks to the sea and the boys follow him. There’s a log he is sitting at, like a storyteller with the boys on the camel grains at his read. The footprints of book woman are blown across now by a wind, niggling, really niggling we are to see it. It’s barely traced. It’s there, in the vast expanse of the Irish sea. Invisible everywhere, down to the sliding breakers, roars hugging, turning over, to a loopy line shape, curtains drawing on the shore. Man, boy, skimmer stone.
Forty yards and the shore curves to an inlet; lagoon’s edge: eleven children air sail rocks. They’re back and forward but not enough for me to know their stories. A woman eyes me as she walks past. I wonder if she thinks I’m a paedo. Someone needs to do a survey about that psychic terror shit. Her partner looks back as well. Most people are over forty here. There’s no sun in the sky and I notice on the way to telling you it’s warm, that there hasn’t been all day.
A mother with nice books takes a pink kart to the far end of the park. They have a motor fountain, eight jets shooting from the ground, and kiddies scream in the middle. Jogger runs past them. Tribes of pram pushers stroll far. An aunt sits middle on the wall. Little bastard! There was a wasp in my bag, okay? Just when the black and white bounder dog pissed on a seat and the woman twirled like no-one saw. A kid plays nearby, a jack-o-lantern smile, freckles, bush hair in front of big teeth. The wasp might still be circling. Why are we culling badgers when we could slay wasps? Scientist may testify.
The stream of people are less, but it’s not dawning time. They’re behind me, a family of about twenty. The jogger is nowhere to be seen. There’s not a ginger around. I have a remarkable view but time were left to someone else. Passing, I smile.