Another excerpt from unpublished novel, ‘Gil’

Posted: March 10, 2019 in Chat
Tags: , , , ,

from Gone South

It happens as soon as you step off the train. Everyone savours it, a look of pleasure lighting up chinks of harried business faces, care-worn mothers trawling lines of squabbling children. Gil couldn’t make it out. That smell. What on earth…? He topped the road outside the train station and was hit by a gleaming brightness; it shifted, twinkled, blinded.
The sea.
He had often heard about it. This was the smell.
The sea.
It drew him on, hungry as he was, drew him down those extra miles, to its gleaming wonder. He stood on the promenade holding the rail in the cooling inshore wind. He breathed deeply.
It was high tide, and crested waves lapped and licked at the sea wall a yard below him. He stood, mesmerised.

He clutched the steel rail tightly, but still the suck and surge below him pulled; it was as though the solid concrete of the promenade was almost liquid.
He looked at the green of the sea; it shone like a lizard’s back. But the smell that came from it, when it belched on the sea wall – something ancient and beyond musty, beyond rotten, something older than any of it.
The City and its concerns were not even a dot in its memory.

He looked into it, and it looked back, into him, found a kinship there somewhere.
Then it released him.
He was doused in a cold sweat, mouth and throat dry as sand, muscles taut. It released him, and he sagged, still holding the rail.
He could turn away at last; he turned and never came back again.

This was Eridu, city by the sea.

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