THE PROMONTORY

 

It seemed as though she had been walking for days. Over heathland and rocky outcrops, farmers’ fields and deserted country roads. Now she saw an expanse of water, and  dropped down to a beach. 

It looked at first like a sandbank, but was not: the waters were not  tidal, and the slight waves edged forward and back, making no progress. On she plodded, right to the end of the promontory. She tasted the water: it was sweetish, not salt. She sat down on the soft sand, which made a slight singing sound in the wind. Looking out over the water, all she could see was mist, and she fancied she could hear the seals calling, since they loved the warm, damp weather. 

 

Out of the fog she could just see a large rowing-boat, toiling slowly towards where she sat. As it came ashore, there seemed to be people in it that she knew, or had known: but they looked smoother. The whole situation was so neutral: the opposites that she had structured her life around  - male and female, dark and light, major and minor - had been elided somehow. The faint sun and the mist were the same. There was now no difference at all.

 

The man rowing the boat jumped out, pushed it ashore and approached her. He said: “this is your boat: it is meant for you.” Suddenly she had a metallic taste in her mouth, and felt something under her tongue: it was a coin. She pulled it out of her mouth, and the oarsman smiled and reached out for the coin, covered in saliva as it was. He pocketed it and helped her into the boat, pulling on the oars. And then everything she knew was gone.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |