People That Sing

by Okala Elesia

There is a place, a terminal stretch of sand—and I know, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes—where young men go to die. A three-mile reach west of Pembrokeshire, where the Irish Sea squeezes into the Atlantic. You can see them at all hours, these boys, just walking the yellow sands. It is sad, and yet there is no other way.  

Many were birthed at family functions, or shopping centre talent shows, under the piss-soaked glare of strip lights. They are guided from audition to audition, and in and out of the service hatch of abandoned warehouses manned by folks considered, in perpetuum, persons of interest. They are all here. That boy, Brendan. Jahrell with the third testicle. All of them. Of no use to society, these fragments of boy-band are put to pasture. Some live for several hours, some for several years. The only thing certain is they will not bear a hit.

Yet they sing—how they sing! Harmonising in groups that form at the mouth of the muddy shore before fading to their composite parts. See them jumping around in the kelpy froth of the sea. Watch them as they fly into one another’s arms. See them as they melt away in lines of warm air, only to re-emerge a verse later, head to one side, larvae leaking from the canthus of each eye.

Every so often, one will be struck by an idea, a powerful sense of purpose that grips his body. He will  concoct a raft from flotsam dragged onto the sand. Sometimes he will enlist others, but this is dependent entirely on if their vests match. He will toil, he will suffer, and then it will be time; time to set sail, to live again. Of course, he has little understanding of the sea, and only a rudimentary grasp of nautical chart navigation. He is quickly pulled under the waves and smothered.

There are other human dramas to consider too. Such as when criticism is taken for a slight, and they will draw up into opposing sides, flinging rocks, blood and excrement. See them as they roll, still singing, in a cartoon blur of motion. And them now, as the day recedes, suing for armistice under an indifferent moon; for these wars come at a cost and there is no fun lancing boils, re-sewing wounds with lines torn from the same bandana. And, besides, bandanas are running low.

Now see them coming back along the beach again, man: white v-necks, well-fitted jeans, knee-high fuckin’ boots; just like before, all smiles. Hear their voices rise and fall with the lapping of the waves.   Witness, please, the ocean as it gives and takes; reclaiming just now the bodies of those whose song is sung. And witness the machinery of man as it pulls onto the forecourt of the beach, past the 40,000-volt electric fence, to gather up those who perished overhead, its mandibles scooping their broken, barcoded bodies from rocks and into the gnawing teeth of the hungry garbage truck.

A bell will chime now, like it always chimes. And you will see them, above the sea; two seagulls racing in sync with the breeze; threaded between their claws, tufts of gelled human hair.

Okala Elesia writes fiction from the north of England. There are ghosts there, and somewhere nearby, buried under a mile of corn, is an undiscovered B2 bomber. He keeps an irregular horoscope at
%d bloggers like this: