Flash fiction by Martin Porter of Whangarei



“Marie, Marie, hold on tight.”

…between the sea and the land…

…walking on smooth pebbles, twisted ankles…

I lose sight of the end in the drift of wind and light and droplets.

I ask you who you really love as we enter the Wintergardens, out of the April drizzle. You said “Rudi”.

I complain that my legs ache. You said “The stones get smaller as we come to the end.”

I have been walking forever. You looked no more worn than when we started. I complain that I feel sore. You said “The sand is finer as the spit ends.”

The sea spray flavours my cheek, a savoury crust forming. I complain that I hurt. You said “It gets smoother towards the end. It is the way of pilgrimage.”

Here, there is so much rain. I remember your face as you read the letter. “Rudi is gone,” you said, “it’s your fault.”

And I was gone.

And I am gone. We were so rich, now we drift towards poverty. “The sea sorts the grains” you said. “Pilgrims bend their knees against the pain; sinners are led to suffering.”

I rest, looking towards the winter mountains.  You faced the waters and said “Saints are beaten in the breakers to make the finest sand.”

In the Wintergardens, I watch your tears collect with the rain in a saucer. Now I know it is over.

I cross the spit, cross the sea.

I rest on the mountains and read, much of the night.

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