A.J. Walker


A Washed Up Memory

The sun wasn’t exactly beating down on Dan as he walked along the beach, but the wind was beginning to abate after the night’s storm. He was finding the cobwebs well and truly blown away. It was strangely quiet, as during lockdown normally he’d found the beach to be a go to destination for the locals; at least he hoped they were locals. Still, being quite meant he was comfortable keeping his mask in his pocket.

Billy was running into and away from the waves as was his usual style and Dan hoped the lab would continue in this vein rather than suddenly veering into the sea when some bravery/stupidity threshold had been passed. The backseat of the old Volvo was still damp from two days earlier.

The breeze suddenly became stronger and Dan decided to head in towards the cliffs for some protection. Last time he’d found an ammonite in a freshly exposed rock face and he wondered if he could be lucky again. He’d said he’d give his next find to Ella. He missed her so much, only thirty miles, nothing in the old days of a year ago, but now distant - and was so fed up with Zoom calling; he just wanted to sit on the sofa and hold her in his arms while they watched some random TV. He was so tired of lockdowns and ad hoc restrictions: at one point he’d actually wished they’d lived together when it all fell down around them. Even though a year earlier they had been close to break up several times. Now she was unobtainable she was the best thing in his life.

Billy broke his train of thought barking as he bounded up the beach. Dan visibly shrunk as he saw the bedraggled dog. He’d missed seeing him bravely taking on the receding tide. He was thankful that the dog ran on past him up to the base of the cliff and promptly sat down wagging his tail like he’d been the best of boys. Of course he was. Before Covid Dan’s rock and one true love was Billy not Ella and post Covid he was fairly sure the status quo would return.

The sand was nice and compact from all the rain and Dan quickly caught up with him. He sat on a rock which had dried quickly overnight. As he put his hand down to stretch out he caught it on something which made him start. He was surprised to find a wooden leg. Not a full sized one, but a beautifully carved leg from a homemade doll. It was such a strange thing to see perched on the rock. He picked it up and studied it. It was the perfectly proportioned calf and the blue high-heel shoe that made Dan catch his breath. It so reminded him of Jennifer, his one true love when he at college. He’d fallen in love with everything about her, but it was her long legs and the blue heels she’d worn in his economics class with Mr Williams that had first lured him.

‘Shit!’ Dan exclaimed. They looked the same as she’d worn he was sure. He fallen asleep many a time dreaming of those legs, but now hadn’t thought about Jennifer for years. He wondered where she was now and what could have been. But he remembered she’d been with Darren. That dope with the stupid hair and not a lot between the ears. Wherever she was now he hoped she’d moved on, ’Bloody Darren.’

He looked back along the beach and saw a couple he’d seen before walking their dogs. He was conscious that he’d begun talking to himself so was glad he’d seen them before they’d got closer. During Covid he’d had more conversations with himself than anyone else. But chatting about women from decades ago and doting on a wooden leg was getting a bit out there. He told himself (silently) to turn the TV on when he got back and chat to the TV; that was much more normal.

Dan was wondering about taking the leg back as a memento, but the decision was taken out of his hands, literally, when Billy jumped forward from his seated position and was soon chewing the wood into a cellulose mush. ‘Oh Billy, you are the wise one of the two of us. Thank you.’


WC: 729