Slices of October Dawn
Autumn mornings are grey and untidy and dull on the island - everybody in Beavertown knows that. Today is no different to any other murky October that lingers just that bit too long before scurrying after the wind into the harsher, bitter planes of November. I pull my old sweater over my head before encasing the top half of my body in my russet corduroy jacket that was once my mother’s, and has fought almost as many winters as I have.
I am tired. Last night, after turning in early following my inability to properly digest an entire Causeway pizza (ham, pineapple, and mountains of cherry tomatoes, finished with three mild cheeses layered with a delightfully herby oregano pesto) partnered with the ultimate lack of good TV, sleep had escaped me. I lay awake for the whole night, eyes closed, mind fizzing with everything under the sun and on top of the stars. At midnight I heard the bells of Santa Barbara’s (as liked to call it) chime for the midnight mass that is held thrice yearly just because everyone loved mass on Christmas Eve in this manner. Apparently, everyone on the island was of the opinion that, where Jesus is concerned, once a year wasn’t enough of a celebration. If I went to church as much as I should perhaps I wouldn’t mind the bells, whose raucous clonking and clanging never fail to wake me despite them being situated a good half-mile from my tiny seaside cottage. Maybe, if I hadn’t lost my faith in God, I would quite like them reminding me that He was only just up the street if I needed him.
Usually, if I’d been awake all night I was ravenous by the time I pulled myself out of bed, groggy eyed and birds-nest-haired. You get used to insomnia after months of trying to fight against it and eventually learn to give in and roll with it. Another thing I learnt was that, between the small hours of three and four my tummy churned, begging me for food. On the odd occasion I’d succumb and replenish it with a leftover brownie or a jam-smothered slice of toast, but most of the time I’d humbly ignore its warbles, too indifferent and exhausted to get out from under the covers. Today favours the latter, and as I wind round my neck the patchwork scarf my sister made me when I was thirteen and she was still my twin, I buckle up my boots along with The Fear and head out towards the harbour.
The sky surprised me today by deeming my earlier suppositions that the morning would be gloomy, by bursting with radiant hues of peaches and silky raspberries, the tangerine sun pushing its way upwards towards the peaks of the clouds as it had done every day since it was born. For a moment I almost allow a responsive smile to tug at the corners of my mouth, but its presence feels unfamiliar after months of silent frowning. I extinguish my almost-joy, instead appreciating the sunrise with a straight face and apathetic soul.
Now, Beavertown is rarely awake before seven. There is no hustle-and-bustle of the mainland because near nobody has a car to bustle around in, as the island is too small to warrant one and anyway, weren’t we supposed to be saving the planet, not destroying it? Passing old Arthur who, in all his fifty-seven year old glory is curled up snoring on his favourite bench that stripes down Main Street towards the beach, (with his woollen hat and customary glass bottle of goodness-knows-what) I am unsure whether my wanting to save the planet is a sarcastic response to Sam being taken from me, or if I am genuinely concerned that as a human body were aren’t green enough. I decide rather promptly that I don’t care either way, taking a swift left after the post office to avoid having to walk past Sinatra’s, hence unearthing the feelings I am trying so desperately to bury.