W G Casterbridge Retires


Blue veins run the course of my extended arm. At the end of its reach, my hand clamours to quell irritating sounds and my face recoils at the sun as she spreads her wake up charm right across me and onto the polished virgin floors. Pristine wood is laid bare and unencumbered, until that is, I am ready to face the day and my feet pace upon it – the creaking, alas, will emanate only from me.

A melancholy sigh is accompaniment enough to herald the last day of crease-pressed, long trousers, for tomorrow I will bare my greying, pale limbs and shroud them with shouting, loud shorts – those with a deliciously garish display of pineapples held firm amid blue daubs – all unleashed by a designer who waxed lyrical for a while taking pity on some cold and dying cloth – I pray someone takes pity on me: a cast off, a remnant of society, unwanted, unfashionable and frayed at the edges, longing for some colour and the sunshine.

I will follow her form, treading a fine line of delicate, shoeless prints between sea and shore and disobeying her instructions so as to lose myself completely. I will burn red and become like the free roaming crustaceans, yet I will linger and enjoy her torment as never before since what else is there at the twilight of my days? While she continues to shine and delight and tantalise, so I will bask for as long as I can, and freely, since my legs are now bare; bare to the day and all who care to look upon them.

I will tilt my head and swear she winces at me as my nose turns cherry red. The pelting sound of the nearby ocean makes me take notice of my elongated shadow; exaggerated, flattering and emanating from my upturned toes. Raw sea salt rubs at my trophy cabinet, relics of which sing out in unison; blisters, bunions, corns, old plaster edges peeled away like a lifetime itself leaving a footnote as jaded as my soles.

I will be just another weary traveller whose journey has all but ended. On my march of freedom, I will bring with me white hair and gaunt features, worn sandals and plump feet bearing tales of cities past and people old and forgotten, except in my mind. I will scratch my blazing head – and think ‘how liberated I feel, and brave’, but skulk like a scolded child as she scorches my brow no doubt. I will dig deep, but will find nothing in my bloused, mango shirt and shorts of liberation as I will no doubt forget to pack a handkerchief. There is something to be said about the routine of a nine to five grey jacket and grey flannels.

I will hold up my brown spotted hand as protection from a hot lingering scour. If I stand long enough and enjoy the cool caress of the sea lapping like a faithful pet around my heels, will droplets of sweat run down my face? Will those tears of my soul cleanse me before falling off into the azure? Water – always in a hurry, always coming and going. Always leaving us behind. Except for tomorrow. Tomorrow I will travel, and further than I ever have before…