There was nothing like it, the utter fresh after rain, the continued drift of sea air and surf spray; the organic edge from churned sea life. He found his way to the top of the dune in the threads of light from the half obscured three-quarter moon behind his back. It surprised him that the sea seemed now so far away, down the dune and across this beach, when it had seemed to fill his ears and mind when inside the canvas. He set off down the beach towards the water, over sand hammered hard by overnight rain. His step uneven over pockmarks of old footprints rendered unyielding by rain pelt.
The storm continued in the body of the sea. As he approached there was little else but white churn visible in the scant light, way way out in wave after wave, close waves fought up together in the turbulence of the storm. Eddies of froth and wreckage of sea life blew on the beach, lodged in heaps, surged on the front of scarcely visible waves.
He stood still. How far he now was from times past, from masses of people, pedantries of protocol, nuances of speech and inflection, slights and power plays, postures and pretensions, egos on the run, timetables and conferences.
He rolled his track pants up, stepped into the shallow rush of water. Icing his toes, chilling his calves for several minutes before his circulation adjusted and he sensed the warmth of the whole ocean reaching for him. A higher wave caught the edge of his jacket in the gloom, wet the folded bottom of his track suit. He grinned, hoisting his camera high, looked around at this wild nameless company. A worn shell-edge pressed the sole of his foot; he stood still and absorbed all the sensations around him.
Far out there now, an edge of light, of approaching dawn, showed below clouds. He stood still, allowing maximum absorption of this new sense. He had spent the night with the sound of the sea and the slight rocking of his sturdy mini-truck by the storm; the pent of rain now torn inland, to the highlands. At the beginning of the storm, round by the rock pool, sheltering under a ledge, he had seen a woman arrive, tear off her dress then be followed to the pool by a man. He had not stayed, had not sought to invade their privacy, had slipped away, he hoped unnoticed. Nobody could notice anything in such sudden wild storm. Now he watched light increase from near nil.
Now there was light sufficient for him to begin to use the camera. A handful of gulls squalled past, demanding answers of each other, none from him. Even the gulls had company. He had come to this place seeking company but company was eluding him, while life chased others with vigour, or a vigour that gripped them but to him seemed flimsy, slight.