Standing along the promenade in Tramore, waves beating against the shore line, the only obvious contrast in the mid-tones of grey being the foaming white waves irregular in size and shape lashing against the concrete walls and hissing spray at the buildings near the shore.
Like a wild cat, backed into a corner fighting to be free, but ironically the complete opposite way around, I think!
In the distance, on Brownstown head a solitary metal man stands on an imposing plinth, pointing away from the shallow strands of Tramore and onto the deeper waters of Waterford’s harbour.
The whole tone of the vista is grey, sky, cliffs, horizon with fluctuating shades, deeper and lighter filled with imagined swirls and shapes.
Suddenly, three large black Cormorants leave the shoreline in a sweeping formation, gliding just above the beating waves, heading in the direction of the metal man.
From the corner of my ear, a shadow of a shape, a deep black silhouette, a woman, black waist length hair, dressed in a billowing ankle length dress.
When I look directly, she disappears, as do the black Cormorants. Checking around me, cars, people walking at an angle against the shore, wind making it impossible to stand up straight. Everyone on about their own business, kids jumping, while cute videos are being recorded of their crazy storm busting antics.
No one looking or seeing! Turning my back to the direction of the silhouette l twist my head slightly to look over my left shoulder and squint, she appears again.
This time though, up close, looking into my eyes. I stumble forward and she catches my hand, her fingers ice cold.
‘You caught me.’
Murmuring, ‘I did?’ before shaking my hand free, feeling like it had been frostbitten, ‘looks like you caught me’.
She looks straight into my face, before walking away from me, almost backwards to where I had originally seen her. Now that I had actually seen her, I could see her, so I followed and stood next to her as she looked out to sea.
Standing and watching, she stood silent not paying any attention to me. I edged closer.
‘You’re not from here?’
‘No, neither are you.’
Suddenly, ‘Be quiet, they’re on their way back.’
From the centre of a large wave, one of the black Cormorants shoots out into the sky, followed by its two compatriots. Swooping back into formation, they follow the irregular waves back to shore and land in front of the woman.
Illegible sounds babble back and forth between them, holding her hand forward, the woman commands a silence and there is one. In quick succession each of Cormorants places their head in the palm of the woman’s hand and disappears.
Confused, I take hold of the woman’s elbow, the waves growing in strength. As the swell changes direction, heading for one point on the beach, the point I am stand on.
The woman places her hand over mine just as the swell reaches the shore, the waves crash down; the sky turns blue and the waters calm.
In the distance I can see the metal man jump down from his plinth, land on the calm, blue as blue water and glide across its surface.
The woman lets go of my hand. I stand confused, looking around me. In her hand a giant bell, she shakes it, a deafening bellowing sound emanating. A second metal man arrears on the horizon. Gliding at speed also on top of the water. He catches up with the first just as he reaches the shore and steps onto the sandy beach.
The woman in black separates her hands facing her palms skywards. I blink and we are all in a quaintly styled room, high ceilings, pale blue and white walls, I am sitting at a table with a full banquet spread in front of me.
‘Where am I?’ finally finding my voice.
The woman in black hands me a small bowl of what looks like glazed carrots.
‘Lunch is late today.’
The Cormorants walk into the room, cormorant bodies on top of men’s legs and take the empty seats between the Metal men.
‘We’re sorry,’ said in unison, ‘we had a second message to deliver.’
‘What is this? Why?’
The woman in black slaps her hands on the table, ‘Can’t you see we have a guest?’
They all turn to look at me, as if it is the first time they have actually seen me.
‘Why is she here?’
‘I invited her.’
‘I let you see me. Do you like the carrots?’
I’m still holding the bowl.
‘If you don’t, I do.’
Gesturing at me to return the bowl.
‘But where am I?’
In unison, ‘on Earth.’
‘Yes, you are on Earth, and we are at lunch. We the Earth do have to take a break sometimes, we can’t be here always for you humans.’
‘Here, here’, the metal men concurred, ‘do you know how hard it is to stand all day, arms outstretched, just because you humans can’t find your way.’
In unison, ‘And how hard it is for us to guide the wind and the waves, when all you humans want is everything for yourselves.’
‘Now can I have the carrots?’
‘Yes,’ passing the bowl down the table, ‘but really who are you?’
‘I am the storm fairy, I am the Earth, I raise the seas and make the storms, I move the waves that crash onto the shores, I am the bringer of peace and silence, I am the seen and unseen, I am the ever present, and right now I need to take a break, so eat up. I offer you this time to think and eat, have food with me, so you will get to know me and when you leave, you will have a voice of reason to speak on our behalf. Now eat.’