Dramatic clouds, seagrass bending too the breeze. The warm ceramic cup between the tips of fingers, I took a sip of black coffee. The melancholic mood of Sunday morning’s interrupted by the reality of life. The noise of parents seeking desperately to control their offspring, making demands, they surrender, and staff behind a makeshift counter rapidly took orders, shouting them through to a small kitchen where a large lady made a note.
Driftwood retrieved from the sea on display, clumsy art, the smell of fried food. Through the window, I’d noticed she had been stood there for quite a while. On the sand dunes, still, just staring out across the waters, motionless. Her silhouette set against the sky. Is she playing with memories? Looking down at my coffee, I take another sip and a trail of old cup stains ground into the rough grain of the bench. Each cup mark representing somebody, who sat here and no doubt pondered the universe.
Aasma was her name. She had explained in struggled, broken English, She asked “please time” as she sat on the nearby bench alone. Her demeanor, as if waiting for a train, flight or ferry. “Have a nice day” I said as she exited the beach cafe. “Thank you” she replied, before making her way up the sand path to the water’s edge. A silent sadness followed her steps. An intense sense of solitude.
I had noticed she had bent down as if to tie shoelaces, then standing upright, she calmly placed her hands on her face, turned and made her way back down the path and passed the cafe window, which I sat behind. A small nod of acknowledgment from each other and she was gone.
Leaving the cafe, inhaling the sea air, the sound of waves in the near distance and seagulls screaming their constant hunger I made my way up the sand path to where she had stood. Looking across the seas, no lands were in view to these naked eyes. Nestled in the sand, where she stood, 3 separate pebbles lay on the stems of 3 carnation flowers.
The Overloaded Man (1961) is a short story by JG Ballard. Ballard is one of those writers who I can’t seem to put down. I have a collection of his story stories, which I have been reading for almost 3 years. I don’t want to conclude them, so I intersperse each short story with other books. His stories are often unnerving, in the mid-1970s he published, several novels, including Crash (1973), a story about car-crash fetishism that I still find thought-provoking. The collection of short stories I’m engrossed (Volume 1 and 2) are to date a gentler affair, although underpinned by his trademark dreamscapes of isolation, tension, dystopian and post-apocalyptic narratives. The Overloaded Man provided the influence for this photograph.