Silvia Accorrà – Seaside

 

Their eyes are stones. I can see how hard it is for them to look any direction. A bolt of lightning fell on the sea but not one of them even glanced at it. Some turned their heads, but most of them just ignored it. They walk, move and even run – if there are children, there is a swirl of activityand colour. But they don’t turn their eyes. The cement dragon must have smothered them from the inside.

The boardwalk is crowded, especially before dinnertime, as if everyone wants to say goodbye to the day at the beach. Strangely, no one bothers me while I rest perching on a bollard. They wear their evening clothes, comparing tans. It smells like after-sun lotion and there is a scent that seems filled with promises. I heard a man say to his wife, while holding the hand of a little girl made of salt, that he would have to shave that night, because later he would go for a drink with friends. The little girl had it all figured out.

Behind the village, where the parish church that only opens on Sundays sits on the hillside, I saw a park with lawns and only a few trees. Many of us stop near the church steeple and its surroundings, and we can see the bustling movement that only happens at certain hours. Human beings sometimes have mysterious rhythms. In any season, the deserted shoreline comes alive for an hour early in the morning when the fishermen return home and then all the excitement is condensed under the orange vaults that create a kind of seafront porch – of course – where baskets full of fragrant ice do not remain unattended for too long. And then the non-stop buzz of sea life, colours stifled by the heat, children and old people, the obvious families. It’s like a continuous white noise punctuated by the coloured umbrellas and bathing suits. I remember well how it was. I remember the smell of the sand, the chattering sounds from a small radio not too far from my parents’ beach umbrella.

In the park, there are a white swan, a young black swan and some mallards. These are all birds of the Dream. They flutter about for a short distance and then fall back into the water. The pond is little more than a puddle. From my perspective, they look like colourless flies, unable to take flight. They make a lot of noise, and the children annoy them.

The children also annoy the bees. On the waterfront, it is ridiculous to see how some children suddenly start to run for no apparent reason, just because a wasp or a bee has noisily appeared. Some age-old stalls, with their stuffed trophies of huge spiders, dried sea fans and dried sea stars, are the ideal prey and location for the bees. Their hive is probably on a palm tree nearby. And even when some tourist is interested in the exhibits, they scare him away with their insistent buzzing. The obese stall-owner must know this very well, but she has never shown an interest in moving, not even for an inch. I look at all this from the railing along the boardwalk. Even when the movement is sudden, as in these cases, their eyes do not move, plastered as they are with cement.

The wind always picks up in the evening. As these people go down for a pre-dinner drink, wearing clothes they would never wear in the city, the streaked sky becomes liquid red. The air comes from the sea, and brings with it the smell of sea salt mixed with that of grilled food. I always find something for myself in the baskets outside the restaurants.

I can fly; I can see everything, like all seagulls do. I feel sorry for these people, who do not know how to free themselves. I feel sorry for myself that I cannot free myself from them and simply fly away. That stone, that look, weaken me endlessly. So I remember how I was, and I remember the reason for my choice.

Translation by the Author (edited by Ester Tossi)