A Day at the Beach

So that’s the title. I think there’s enough of a mix of familiarity and irony in it for it to be a good enough title.

“At the horizon the sea and sky merge with the morning light to form an unbroken gray wall. Closer to shore the water identifies itself through eddies and whitecaps while the sky is distinguished by somber clouds and circling gulls. The morning light however is ubiquitous and colours everything equally with its pale brush. The reporter stands on the dock resting his elbows on the worm-eaten balustrade, his hands clasped before him against the cold.”

That’s the introduction I wrote before. I don’t mind it although the reporter won’t be the protagonist, rather it will be “the man” (there’s a character name for you).

Rough outline:

(a) the man and the reporter converse on the deck or bar or cafe or whatever it is (restaurant patio?) – a lot of space spent on setting and tone, sees the boats along the shore, reporter is given a chance to reveal personality and mannerisms through dialogue and incidental action;

(b) the man goes out onto the beach where he intercepts the old man on his way to the boats; dialogue ensues; quote from the old man “don’t try to tell me about Jesus, son; I’ve known him longer than you and if He’s taught me one thing it’s the importance of making a graceful exit.” This section is based on the anti-euthanasia argument that it’s against God, et cetera;

(c) brief interlude as the old man goes to the boats and paddles out into the bay; the woman appears also headed towards the shore;

(d) second interception as the man opens a dialogue with the woman; the woman is his wife but I don’t want to make that immediately obvious – more of a reveal moment for the reader to come to; this section focuses more on the arguments about those left behind – counter argument is that at some point you have to look out for number 1 (well, I won’t phrase it that way but you get the idea); possible quotes from the woman? “this isn’t about you any more,” something about pain? My thought is that where the old man was killing himself just because he was very old, in this case the woman wants to die because of an unspecified condition causing chronic pain; admittedly this is going to be a tough one to write – maybe less dialogue and more concrete evocative? She touches his face, the trembling of her arm leaving short sharp traces of her fingertips across his cheek. Maybe not. Anyhow…

(e) interlude number duos – the woman goes to the boats, the man should help her in but doesn’t and the boatwright watches him for a moment silently before going himself to help her. He wades out a short distance with her before the water is deep enough to take the paddle and then she makes her way slowly and painfully out into the bay; the man stands on the beach for a long time watching the boat disappear into… the sunset? The gathering gloom? Something;

(f) we wrap up on the deck/bar/cafe again; the reporter is prodding for details for his story; the man is sombre and uncommunicative; the report possibly indicates his realization that the man knew the woman – sees wedding ring? “Ah I get it,” “you’ve got to learn to take the good with the bad my friend,” the reporter is selfish but says some true things relative to the theme despite himself. Possibly something in here about a chipped mug I was thinking of introducing earlier — the man returns to the deck but won’t drink from it for fear of cutting his lip and discards it… that might or might not work as a symbol. Do I need a symbol in here? The boats and the island are symbols, or metaphors I suppose more than symbols.

Let’s think about this. The conflict here is ostensibly man vs man as the man tries to stop people from going; in reality there’s no conflict there and it’s really the man vs himself as he tries to come to terms with his wife’s death. So, if we stick a symbol in there it should be about that conflict, and say something about whether he’s won or not; I’m thinking not, his wife booked out of there but he never came to terms with it, not even to help her into the boat; so what’s a good symbol for that? The cup thing… I dunno… he has a chipped cup, it’s imperfect, he isn’t happy with it – assuming the cup is a symbol of an imperfect life that seems backwards – he’s the one asking people to carry on; could be irony? He isn’t willing to drink from the chipped mug just like these people aren’t willing to go on with unlivable lives. I don’t mind that. Closing diologue then is something like reporter: “you aren’t going to finish that?” they aren’t drinking coffee I don’t think –  it’s beer (maybe more specific – ale, lager, pilsner, something new englandish?); “I haven’t even tasted it,” the man, “I’m likely to cut my lip on this chipped cup she brought me;” reporter: “a good pint of beer languishing for want of an unchipped mug? You need to learn to take the good with the bad my friend.”

 

The scene between the man and the woman is going to be a fucking bitch to write, but otherwise I think this might be alright.