A sea skull

Frank Polson would know what it was. A fisherman all his life, the only time he ever turned his back on the sea was when he was negotiating his return to harbour.

He took it in his hand, a hand so rough he could smooth wood just by stroking it. ‘This is a rare find, you know. Three or four waves and it would have become the beach.’

‘What is it?’

‘Well… It was a sea ghost. They’re like a jelly fish but with a head. This was its skull.’ He turned it over and blew into the cavity. It whistled back.

‘You see them after a bad storm, when it’s quiet, when the sea’s in shock at what it’s done. The times I’ve seen them, it’s been when we’ve been looking for someone. When it’s too late, when it’s futile… That’s when they rise up. You can’t really see them, but you sense them, you feel them, there, in the water.’

He sighed, a stuttered sigh. A sigh that was more about holding something back rather than letting something out. Then I heard it fall to the ground.

‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ He bent down to pick up the pieces.  ‘It’s broken. Never mind. I’ll take these bits to beach. Back to the beach. Where these things go.’

And without so much as a look he was gone, leaving the smell of salt behind him.

© Shona Main 2010

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5 Responses to A sea skull

  1. perwindows says:

    That Frank Polson could do with a skelp. Title for a novel: ‘Mass Mortality of the Heart Urchin’.

    • me says:

      The last time Frank Polson got skelped was 1983 in the Spiggie Hotel. It was only a couple of punches but the amount of sand that came off of him. It went everywhere: in folks’ drinks, their ears, the toastie machine. Someone had to come up from the south to get it all out of the jukebox.

  2. perwindows says:

    Aye, a lang time atween skelps: he’s mebbe usin that sand as a prophylactic. A guid doin for the stoory lump an folk culd have lossit their jukebox entirely – the fiddles wid hiv hid tae hiv dune extra time.

    • me says:

      Poor Frank Polson. He must be pushing eighty now and you need only look at his grey flaking face to see that the winds have been skelping him all his life.

  3. perwindows says:

    Give him a canny hug: he won’t take one from me.

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