From "Beach," Second Prize Winner of the Fish Publishing Short Story Contest, 2006
In the mornings I rise later than is seemly with an empty stomach that the salt air makes keen; in the bleached mornings I come to the beach. I have done this every morning since the day after he died, with a head full of the dregs, dried into the crevices, of a perfect red wine.
Little changed since. Each night, glass after glass, a full scented bloom of cherry, musk and wood smoke, and the morning’s damp regret in the dry air, sweating under fine cotton.
For a week I wore evening dress and ate only oysters out of tins, and olives, sham decadence. I am sure there is mascara rooted deep in the cracks around my eyes, residue of a weeks-past final party. Washed in there by seawater for tears, oh, I am a gruesome widow. I stand ankle deep and blankly, watch the glorious spectrum of blue, and might walk into it and drown any day now but haven’t yet. Headaches pounding in waves around the hollow shell of a head. I am the shell of a mollusc that died.
I have switched to silk pyjamas for the time being and can, I think, go on indefinitely but supplies are running low. Clean underwear is no longer a necessity, and ran out some time ago anyway. Tinned goods look scarce. Vegetables are beginning to lurk and fester. Only the wine cellar remains sumptuously furnished and filled with promises. I think it may well last longer than my liver has left.
If you must marry for money, then be sure to marry also for taste; and be assured that there is a kind of taste which matures and refines, develops piquancy, subtle base notes and surprising graces, only with year upon year of indolent wealth.