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That surge from your stomach through your chest, you know it. You’re beating back memory as you spiral down the path from the cul de sac of the castle to the shore, running until the breath squeaks in the alveoli of your lungs. Then when your knees ache slowing, seeing the families and even their dogs swerve from your angry bruises of eyeliner, the bloodless snarl of your mouth. Past them and on, flipping your gaze from the soaring abbey, scraping round the back of the church, until the stones shift under your feet. Tide’s in. There’s only so far you can go (remember you used to stop at nothing?) Sinking down on the sand opposite the stark cross marking Cuthbert’s diurnal marooning, your fingers slither through the grains of shingle. You smear them over your right palm, and where the doubled line twists together you isolate a perfect octagon, a smooth and tiny fossil. Plunging your hand further down, you sift out a circle, all deep repeating radii. By the time you find an ammonite, half the size of your pinkie nail, the surge has washed away. You don’t even register the crunch of his footsteps behind you. This stillness is the trade off, your compensation for learning that not everything is possible, that sometimes the numinous is a trick.

 

Zoë Strachan 

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