Jason Jackson


I walk home. It ‘s raining, but it doesn't matter. Three miles from the beach to my door, and it takes me an hour. A couple of times I feel the heavy rush of a bus behind me, catching me, but I don't look up as they pass. To see her, looking down, the inside of the bus all yellow with light, that would be too much. I think about stopping; a pint and a cigarette would be good, but then the wind gets up, and the rain hits my face, and I just think, “Home, now.”

It's cold inside the flat. I click the fire on, make a coffee, switch on the TV. My cigarettes are wet, so I put the packet on top of the fire. As I undress, I throw my soaked clothes into the corner of the bedroom. One of my boots hits the wall, lands on its side, and a trail of sodden sand spatters from its neck. I lay back on the bed, wrapped in the quilt, and stare at the ceiling.

After a while, I get up and pull a cigarette from the packet. It's crispy with the heat, and it flares and crackles in my hand as I draw on it. Still wrapped in the quilt, I shuffle to the corner and put the boots upright. The sand on the floor is drying, and it looks like brown sugar, piled in tiny ornamental peaks. I rub it into the carpet with my fingers, and the grains get under my fingernails.

The phone rings. I go back to the bed, let the machine click on. As I listen to her voice, I rub the grains of sand between my fingers. It's something real, and I realize that the planet is made of this stuff. She finishes speaking, hangs up. I turn over, but I don't sleep straight away. I think about all the sand on the beach, about the tide washing out beneath the darkening sky. I think of all those tiny grains being sucked up, swirling in the black water, being dragged from the beach.

In the grey evening light of the bedroom, I imagine that I can hear the sea.

But I can't.