The day I made this sketch I wrote a story. Two couples in the picture. Three couples in the story. Fictional of course! I posted this a few years ago, but perhaps I have different readers nowadays.Paradise Point
The sea music pulses with my heart beat, but as we reach out for bliss we find that the grasp is foolish because we are flawed; then the hollowness comes again, inside us, like the threatening of nausea never resolved.
A damaged pine tree grows beside Beach Road at Paradise Point, ugly from the repeated loping, branches cut off square and awkward like flat plates. In front of the tree sit the elderly couple, and not far away a boy and girl curve into each other on the grass.
You and I sit up to a table, facing different directions. You look at the dreadful tree, try to draw the ugliness, and I stare at cloud shadows on the flawed grass before changing my focus to look seaward. I think of my widowed friend and the anguish when her husband went missing.
‘That’s where Mick leapt into the sea,’ you suddenly say, not unkindly, and you are reading my thoughts as you often do.
I watch the young couple in jeans and sports tops who seem to be oblivious to holiday families wandering below them on the narrow strip of sand. They are a self-absorbed couple just as we were once, not knowing that the knife-edge of experience will eventually change them. We once sang in the sunshine too.
The girl’s blonde hair touches his dark head and their sunglasses clink. His arm curls around her buttocks, massaging ownership. Because of the cool day, they wear warm clothes, but her sport stop is short exposing her freckled back. When the wind changes, a newspaper flutters on the grass then lifts in the air before falling again. The young man suddenly stands up and leaps towards a car. I hear her utter an angry obscenity as she runs after him.
I watch the elderly couple who face one another glumly as they sit up ramrod at a green pine table. A hat is clamped over her primped curly hair. She brushes crumbs from her pleated Fletcher Jones skirt and her feet are restless in her strappy white sandals. Her large white handbag is placed primly next to the woven plastic picnic basket. He wears a cap, giving him a jaunty Irish look but his mouth looks sour as he doodles on the table. When the wind changes, they pack up in a hurry and though she struggles with her walking stick, he does not lend a hand.
You and I do not talk at all after you say, ‘Go away. Go somewhere else. You are disturbing me.' Your gesture of irritation knocks a plastic bag of mandarins onto the grass. Two mandarins are eaten, their peel left drying. Seagulls swoop down then change their minds.
When I wander off and sit near two bent ti-trees in a hollow of darkness, I notice a tree split by a gale and when the branch is shorn from the trunk there is a dull red wound shaped like a human heart. I think of Mike’s widow and the three children, now adult, who are still confused. He had leapt when the police were closing in on him – after the scouts had spoken up.
The rains starts and we run for the car. Soon it will be teeming down, loud as a rapturous ovation after a performance.
It is not that Paradise is an illusion but that it is so transitory. Bliss can never be contained, captured, enclosed and held. As we look, Bliss moves like a bird across the water, gliding in an arc of beauty then it flies away beyond the Point.