Pilgrim

Here is the first version of The Right Side. I slightly prefer this one as it reads like a very sad, goodbye letter not only to the man she loved and lost but also to herself to help her accept her loss. Feel free to post your thoughts – constructive critism is always welcome!

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Pilgrim

Today in the early dawn I went to the beach to watch the fisherman bring in their catch. The sea waters rolled and rippled gently, the sky was a hue of gold and the salty breeze on my face made me linger for a while.  Strolling along the shingled shore you were nowhere to be seen, but you were all around me. I could feel you playing with my hair, taste you on my lips and hear you whisper through the breaking waves. I removed my sandals just to feel the shingles on my feet and soothed them in the cold water. A wave caught me off guard, soaking my jeans and coat through and at that point I knew I had to let you go.

Some people may call you ugly, but as your perfect wrinkles broke off into my hand, it filled me with happiness knowing that a part of you would always be with me.

I am sure that you would be pleased to know that you travel with me still. Everyday your life expands, moving further into a parallel existence.  There was nothing snail paced about your days, but like that familiar creature, you once protected life within your nomadic home forcing that life to one day leave you behind and create a new shell. But like a person you grow older and wiser through your journey with youth and courage feeding your immortal soul.  The decay was plain to see but it does not bring you sadness or a longing for the years that have passed you by. Age creates new wrinkles for you to wear like trophies. There is no bitterness that your looks have changed or disappeared. Every crack is a story and every flake a memory. The passing of time is a celebration, rather than a fear.

To me there is only one of you, there is no other. When we first met you left me reeling.  You seemed sharp, hostile and rough around the edges. Please realise that it was with great trepidation that I chose to welcome you into my life.  Yet when you let me in you revealed yourself to be as soft and decadent as silk with no bumps or edges to catch myself on. It was a little disarming. I would sometimes sit and wait for a bolt from the blue. On appearances I have to say you looked a little dull, but when you caught the light you radiated like a beacon. It was like you were saying “I’m here, you fool. Admit it. You thought I was something completely different.”

You probably had a family once, but I will never know for sure as you would never tell. Despite me trying to make you understand time and time again, loneliness was not a concept you could comprehend.  Speaking about the things you knew so well and the travels you embarked upon, the world you saw guided you to where we are today.  If you had caught a different wave, you and I probably would not have met. You would have ended up on another beach one hundred and fifty miles away.  One must not look too deeply into how you ended up on my shore but I like to think some celestial intervention guided you here.

You stayed in my home for a while where it was safe and warm. But you are a nomad, a pilgrim, so it is not in your nature to stay in one place at one time. It took me a while to realise why you did not feel at home with me, but I think I understand now. I know I used to question why you used to leave a little bit of you everywhere, a speckle, a stain that will never wash away. Without realising, you tormented me because in my heart I knew that you would one day move on and part of me wanted you to leave without a trace. However it is your way of moving into another life, whilst remaining in your old one. I cannot blame you. For the past few years it is all you have known. There is still no way I can describe how I feel, a mixture of anger and comfort at the same time. They say I will get used to it, but then again ‘they’ say a lot don’t they?

The room we shared is now a place for ghosts and memories I am not sure I want to possess. Memories should bring you joy and reminiscing should not bring you the shudder down your spine, a burning sensation in your stomach and a pain deep in your chest.  Every morning I wake up, I move my hands to your side of the bed hoping that you are there.  You would have thought that I would go back to sleeping like a starfish but if I were to venture to your side, it would evoke strong feelings I know am not yet able to handle.

You did not tell me when we first met that our time together was so precious. If you had then maybe I would not have been wasteful or taken you for granted. Those nights we spent watching TV could have been spent dancing, walking the beach, talking to the small hours about our hopes and dreams. Of course your hopes and dreams were different to mine. My hopes resembled forming a future with you, creating a family and cherished moments of simplicity. Your hopes centred on watching another sunrise and your dreams were about another world few dare to ever think about.

You were so brave because I know now that you were going it alone.  I could not have handled the enormity of your anguish without someone to confide in. Since that day, I have read books and articles about courage and coping.  How can I be selfish and ask for you to have done something that felt unnatural? You probably thought that if you would have told me, our time together would have been about what was going to become of you. It would have been a heavy burden to carry between the both of us, but it makes it lighter now that you aren’t here to share the load.

Every few months you would not be able to get out of bed because of a skull shattering migraine. You likened the feeling to that of a bag of spanners knocking about in your brain. I never thought anything of it because the next day you would be up and about, going for a jog on the beach or chatting happily to the neighbours over the fence.

For the weeks after you moved on, I spent timeless hours sitting in our room alone. I wanted to scream, cry and smash things but instead I just shut down and tried to forget you ever existed at all. When I felt like my world was starting to piece itself back together I decided to go through all that you left behind. A book with no ending remains untouched next to a half empty glass of water towering over a pair spectacles that peer at me from your bedside table where dust has settled. I did not lay a hand on anything as for a moment you were there with me and I felt a peace like nothing had changed.

It was an autumn morning. The seasons were starting to click and the first November frost November decorated the golden leaves. The central heating had broken, so the night before we slept with an extra blanket. The cold woke me and I could see my breath from my mouth rise and disappear into the atmosphere. My side of the bed was up against the wall and I would often sleep facing it. As the sun would rise, you would roll over and cuddle me from behind. That day you didn’t but I could hear you faintly breathing so I let you to sleep. I gently nuzzled up to the nook between your shoulder and neck. Your breath caressed my skin and tickled my hair. I felt you move your arm around me and cocoon my small frame. For a few minutes I drifted into a light sleep, dreaming of the day ahead.  As my eyes flickered, adjusting to the light, I lay a kiss on your lips. They were cold. I placed my hand on your chest expecting a rise and fall but there was no movement. I searched your face for answers but I could not find you.

I rolled up my soaking jeans and dashed over to the empty pavement, catching the soles of my feet on the sharp pebbles. I sat on a bench overlooking the beach and a grey cat came over and purred against my left leg before dashing off into a bush. As I looked out to sea I could see the morning come to life. The fishermen had abandoned their boat and the catch had been moved, leaving a smell to linger in the air. Seagulls plodding on the shore suddenly took flight, circling in complete silence before disappearing into the crisp blue sky.

Going home I brushed off the dried sea air from my coat and felt around in my pockets. There it was, a little oyster shell with tiny flakes breaking off in my hand.  As I rubbed the flakes between my finger tips I realised I do not need you anymore, I do not even need a photo of you. All I need is a feeling to remind me of that day you came into my life and the day you dived back into the sea, swimming to another shore one hundred and fifty miles away.

 

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