by Eleanor Jones
The sun is just rising, casting pale rays of sunlight onto the damp morning sand. She stares up at the sun for as long as she can bear, then turns away, tiny replicas blinking behind her eyelids, blinding her momentarily. She slips off her shoes, the sand cool beneath her feet. By the time the families make it down to the beach, the sun will have warmed the sand, making it the perfect consistency for sandcastles. But this morning, she’s even earlier than the fishermen, their boats waiting patiently in the harbour for the morning fish. She has always preferred the solitude of the morning, the breeze that whips her hair into her eyes and mouth, and the sea that creeps slowly up the beach, her only companions.
She sheds her coat: her first present from him, her husband. She’s been wearing it for years like a straitjacket, its tight, heavy material restraining her every move. Now, it falls onto the sand in a lifeless pile, leaving her dress free to billow around her legs. She stares up at the sky and wonders what her life would have been, had she married another man, curiosity getting the better of her as she imagines herself married to a man whose mind was like hers, and who would have left her to explore, to understand the world around her, as opposed to confining her to a box from which there was no escape.
“She feels herself again, her curious mind excited and attentive, her determination strong.”
But right now, she doesn’t feel restrained, but free, and with the wind flowing all around her, blowing specks of sea water into her face, she feels herself again, her curious mind excited and attentive, her determination strong. She is like Alice, taking in every detail and thinking deeply about it, wondering where it came from and how it came to be: why was the sun so bright, and yet the beach so cool? Why did the sea move so methodically, never ceasing in its action, always moving in and out with great precision? Why was she considered a second-class citizen, her word counting for nothing against that of her husband, and the world offering her no other way out?
She moves closer to the edge of the sea as it ripples onto the sand, the coolness of it shocking her as it brushes her bare feet. Taking a calm, resolute breath, she steps into the waves, staring straight ahead at the horizon, her arms out-stretched to the sea in a warm embrace. She thinks she hears someone call her name. Or it could just be the cry of a seagull. She keeps on walking.
Eleanor is a student who never stops reading. She has built up a considerable amount of followers on her blog for her reading and writing, and has had several pieces of prose published in the online literary magazine Sugar Rascals, as well as coming runner-up in her school poetry competition. Eleanor also loves history and is a strong feminist, often using her writing to consider the position of women in the past and present.