… It was a quiet journey with each lost in their own thoughts, so different to the trip they had made years before. The only excitement came when their train neared Adelenou. It screeched to a jolting halt, there was a swelling commotion, women shrieked, everyone was told to stay on the train, the authorities arrived. Flung into such unsettled conditions, people broke the time-honoured etiquette of not speaking to their fellow passengers to grasp that there was a body on the tracks. It was being moved, though would mean a delay for the expected time of arrival. As the train eventually crawled forwards, the passengers were shaken by the spectacle outside the window of the enshrouded corpse they could not help to notice. They all raced to get to their final destinations as soon as the train alighted in Adelenou. The couple arrived at their rented villa on the seashore after dark, exhausted and ready for bed. Aside from the roar of the waves crashing violently against the rocks, the villa was silent, the night so black, not even a single star visible tonight. Lying awake that night they both wondered how it could be possible to lie so close to someone and yet be so far away.
The holiday week trudged painfully on, both feeling estranged, pushing down secrets and harsh words that would forever now remain unspoken. They used the sleepiness brought on by the halfhearted sun as an excuse to interact as little as possible. The girl made attempts to see old family and friends, though learned most had moved away. The season had come and gone, taking the mass of beach worshipers with it. A few locals still walked along the seafront, but it had already turned from a glittering invite into something more hostile. The man ventured alone towards the shoreline under an overcast sky. Far off he could see a small ripple of a wave approaching, within seconds the wave gathered speed, rising higher like a wide army frontline of phantom white horses galloping faster and faster towards him. As the thundering horses rose their powerful forelegs and plundered straight for him, the wave broke against his chest, pushing him backwards into the sinking sand. Stunned, cold and drenched, he gasped for air as his nose and eyes stung from the water and the salt scratched the back of his throat. The waves receded – quiet and calm again for a few moments, readying for their next attack. A juvenile fear overcame him as he spat out some saltwater, stumbled as he picked himself up and retreated from the beach. He waited in the villa till evening to dine in silence with the girl…
(Extract taken from full story first published in ‘Curious Tales’, 2018)
Copyright 2018 Joon Haque. All rights reserved