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Sea Intrusion

by Haadi 

Posted: 04 June 2005
Word Count: 243
Summary: Written for the theatre programme for a play, Red on Black, by Andrew Bridgmont . Meant to be about incursion. Criticised for try to be too clever, consequently might be souless....

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A malodorous tide breathes in and out, in and out, drawing energy from the sun-warmed sand to encroach the land.

A child plays on the beach.

She steps back from her earnest games and admires the castle. Its brave, fat walls house a myriad of nymphs and gnomes employed in earnest labour to fortify their newfound reality. The awkwardly angled turrets - delicious melting globules of sand and water – are a final decorative flourish.

The gully around the castle’s circumference is an ill-placed defence, waiting to be breached.

The child looks to sea, and back to mother, who watches proud but cautious as her child realises, in sand, the magic of her imagination.

Insistent and ruthless, the butter-tongued waves creep up the shore. Sandy rivulets ooze into the trough around the ramparts, encircling the child’s paradise. She stands back, mesmerised by the swirling forces that envelope her fort. Gurgling with pleasure the salty miasma discretely eats into the barely-packed foundations. The child’s dreamed inhabitants tremble in wait.

Its imposition, at first, is covert as the sea insinuates itself cosily - lethally – between grains of sand. But the aggressor, once confident its fight is won, shows little mercy. Slowly, great slabs of rampart slide back to the chaos from which they came. The foundations are weakened, the child’s battlements fall.

The castle’s substance was built on delusion, its claim on territory anathema to the ever encroaching, ever recoiling continuity of the sea.

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Comments by other Members

Anj at 20:38 on 04 June 2005  Report this post

Welcome to Writewords :)

I found this astonishingly visual - I could see all of it. I love the way that you've given the sea, the nymphs etc as well as the child & mother their own agenda, made them all equally alive.

You say it's been criticised for trying to be too clever .... I wouldn't go with that, but sentences like "Gurgling with pleasure the salty miasma discretely eats into the barely-packed foundations" are so jam-packed with powerful words that I almost lost the meaning behind the sentence. I could have done with a few more relaxed, ordinary words in there so that the remaining powerful (and beautifully chosen) words stood out as the gems they were. I also thought the last line was unnecessary, because you'd already communicated the sentiment so well.

But that said, I think you use language beautifully and this is anything but souless.


little monkey at 19:26 on 05 June 2005  Report this post
Hi Haadi,

I really liked this piece, immediately I can see the beach and a child playing deep inside her imagination. It really is a beautiful use of words, but like Andrea, I also agree that the use of more simplistic words could make the others more powerful.

Really lovely


Haadi at 12:03 on 06 June 2005  Report this post
Thank you both. God, it's nerve-wracking seeing someone's commented on your work for the first time! I really appreciate your comments though. I might try a rewrite of this piece to make it less thick.

I'm glad you liked that the sea and sandcastle had a life of their own. The nymphs and gnomes are wickedly borrowed from Alexander Pope's the Rape of the Lock. I am a sucker for that magical element.

(Andrea, I am looking forward to reading your untitled work. I glimpsed at the first para and think I will settle down at lunchtime to enjoy it. LM - I look forward to hearing what was in that email...)

Thank you again for being kind and useful!

kat at 23:55 on 04 July 2005  Report this post
Hello Haadi
I can see it,taste it,and almost smell it.

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