Writing exercise #17 – Autumn shapes

I hesitated about posting this one, because several people close to me are seriously ill at the moment. But that felt like pretending it’s not happening to them, that their pain and fear and courage and determination aren’t real.

And surely if we’ve learned anything in this millennium so far, it’s that life is short and even the world we live in is uncertain. That you have to enjoy it while you can. That you have to grab the little smidgeons of joy (thanks again, Allison!) wherever you see them.


As I drive away, the maize in the field next to my house is now brown and brittle where once it was leathery and green, rustling drily instead of softly shushing above its deep purple-blue shadows.

The bones of trees are starting to show through, some of the branches already bare, and drifts of shed skin beneath them.

I walk by the sea, empty now of people – as indeed is the beach, a long expanse of white sand and marram grass undisturbed except by the odd seabird and the waves. And even they don’t venture far onto dry land here. The sky is pale blue behind me, but clouds are gathering quickly out to sea and the light is failing, dwindling. I comb the beach, searching for the amber that should be here but never seems to be. I find instead chewed-looking plastic bottles, pieces of wood, seaweed and the odd small half-smashed shell.

My fingers are turning what would be a rather attractive shade in a flower – but isn’t quite so fetching in fingers.

I stagger up the sand dune and into the woodland behind the beach, suddenly deafened by the silence of the pines around me. No longer resinous and heady scented, they stand dignified, waiting for the arrival of the first snows, their greyish pink bark apparently no defence against the cold. Actually, of course, they are perfectly adapted to their setting, and it’s more likely to be I that won’t be here by the time spring finally comes around again.

I walk along the winding path and back to my car, solitary occupant of the car park I last saw full of family-friendly vehicles and people emptying the sand from their shoes.

I hesitate for a moment before I turn the key. And then I drive away to yet another doctor’s appointment.