I) A ripped tarpaulin, the spokes of a long dead umbrella, and a giant glove. These straddle the horizon, waiting for the sun to emerge.
I am waiting too. I open my left eye and see colour, a pale orange that is spilling out across the sea. I feel the sand between my toes, I feel each grain and want it to tell me a story.
I was once deep red, and thousands of others like me. It was a noisy day in June. Smoke, yells, German shouts, American bodies. I was trampled on but stayed still. My neighbours were carried far to Caen, Paris and to the borders of the Reich.
But today we all remain still. I long for the tide to bathe me, perhaps take me further away, back to the Britain in which I laid for millions of years.
It was a horrific day, 6 June 1944. But I (not the sand) still feel excited. The gray masses, emerging from their landing craft, wading through the sea, attacking, attacking, attacking. So heroic I wish I could have lived then, died then, ended up as a tiny grain of sand.
II) ‘Do you want to go to the fair this evening?’
‘It sounds pretty boring.’
‘Do you think I was giving you an option?’
‘I want to stay and finish my jigsaw of the Spitfire. Look I’ve done two of the corners now.’
‘You can finish it off this evening.’
‘No way! You and mum are going out and we’ll have to play stupid games with that woman.’
‘Look, you could win some prizes at the fair. And we can visit the fortune teller.’
Paul looked at his father and wondered when he’d be able to grow such a bushy beard. It looked a bit dirty but his mother never said anything so it must be OK. His mother was usually a good judge of character — she spotted that Mr Richards his English teacher was a bit odd months before the police came and arrested him.
‘OK. But please don’t be embarrassing if we meet any of my friends.’
They arrived at the fair in high spirits. Paul expected it to be like the start of Lord of the Rings with massive fireworks and strange people selling strange things. This was Basingstoke however, a fact that had yet to fully descend into his ten-year-old brain. He didn’t quite realise that his parents were chronically bored of the place, their neighbors, their lifestyle. He just enjoyed doing jigsaws and talking about the war to his father.
III) Malcolm turned to his screen and wrote in 32 point Arial “THE SECOND WORLD WAR NEVER HAPPENED”, then clicked ‘PRINT’, selected the A3 paper size and clicked ‘OK’. He stood up from his desk, walked ten meters down the gray carpeted path (not gray because it was dull but because it was the fire escape route and so had to look different than the usual dark blue — and it was the cheapest option). He approached the printer (a multi-document center probably costing around £3,000 as well as an expensive maintenance contract) and pressed the screen, selected the one that said ‘mkennedy’ and waited.
‘Hello Malcolm. How are you?’
Alison. Oh Alison. I don’t want to talk to you. You were 30 last week. I refused to go to your party. I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook. You looked pretty drunk, not very attractive. All those ’30′ balloons were a bit sad too. If you were as cool as me, you would have held an 18th birthday party just to be ironic.
‘Fine. Good weekend?’
‘Yes, Dave and I went to his parents. We watched the Grand Prix.’
I stopped listening and just made eye contact. Funny thing, eyes — you never quite remember what colour unless you stare or make notes and that seems a bit odd. Fuck, my printing has just come out, I’ll fold it in half and hope she doesn’t notice.
‘Yes great see you later.’
‘Yeah. Are you going to Geoff’s firework party?’
Geoff. What a dick. I’ll have to think of some kind of excuse.
‘Umm, I’ll think about it.’
IV) …this shivers…I want to feel different….the wolves… the wolves…eating dripping pieces of meat…I worry….and then I jump upright.
In between my illusions, I wander off to a small cave behind the shore. Inside I see nothing, perhaps the best place to sleep but there’s a funny smell and I prefer just to light a match and look at the walls.
A waste, you say. I only have six boxes of matches left but why not look at the pictures. Hunting scenes, spears, massive rhinoceros-like mammals. But lime green hits me, orange eyes and a huge body with eight arms. A piece of meteorite that shines, I take it and feel better.
A scarlet dawn. I wake. I walk to the spring and drink. My throat still feels sore. I lie down and talk to the snake. I ask him how he got here. He stares at me and I notice his eyes. Prettier than mine and I think they are deep prussian blue. I remember. Three days here. I must do something as I see a rectangle, of course gray, how dare it approach.
I run back to the beach. Open my bag, take out a flare, light it, it does nothing. I shake it, then relight it, it hisses at me — should I throw it or wave it? It is getting hot so I hurl it up and watch the colors, so pretty, pink, then a dark purple with just a hint of blue at the edges and then red everywhere. The sky, pale blue is embarrassed.
But the ship moves. A landing craft bristling with soldiers. They are closer and I wish I had something to fight with but then it is a fiction.
A fiction? The trampling on the sand, the liberation of Paris, the Nuremberg trials. I look and see them coming. I wish I had a gun. A bang, a pain in my chest. I slump and fall, my blood staining the sand. It all goes red once more and I think of my apartment, Geoff’s party, my own peaceful life in the future, in 2009, in the world I created. My son — what did I tell him?