Watching

It took a week before he walked the coast. Until then, he stayed mostly inside the apartment. From his place at the window, he learned the timing of the tide, the subtle changes it inflicted on the area throughout the day. He sat up by the window, looking out at the view. He couldn’t remember another time of his life during which he’d given himself over to this kind of observation, a patient and tranquillised watching

He looked out for the woman next door, appreciating the sight of her daily exercises on the sea wall as another feature about which to build his sense of time. The morning she didn’t appear, he waited for an hour before he got dressed and wandered outside. Heat radiated from the bricks out on the walkway. The path ended abruptly by the beach, as though the concrete had disintegrated into its constituent sand. A ridge of shale led up to the headland, a layered gradient of blue stones, and white. Near the cliff face, he came across the spine of a wrecked boat emerging from the sand, the wood mostly rotten now, crumbling like flaked tuna between his fingers. The gulls were circling the headland, crying and calling as they searched for food. 

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