Now I think of it, I know if you’d looked closely you would have seen they were slightly underslept. -that’s not a word-read more…
I can’t tell you the name of the town, but I can tell you it was October. A warm and mild October, the evenings were drawing in, there was a hint of chill in the late afternoon air. I was there on the quayside, looking into the mud at low tide, wondering what it was that drew people here at this time of the year. I wasn’t alone. There were others around me but I seemed to be the only one that saw it.
A great long eel like creature, writhing in the mud. It was mesmerising. I was rugged against the expected cold. I looked at those around me. It seemed to be revelling in the mud, enjoying it. No one else seemed to have spotted it. It seemed to be there for my sake and mine alone.
I was staying in town, just the week. I hadn’t really noticed that there were a lot of women my age in town, all with sunglasses and caps, an oddity at that time of year. Now I think of it, I know if you’d looked closely you would have seen they were slightly underslept. Too tense, agitated, as if they had an appetite that was unsated. I thought nothing of it at the time.
I went back to my holiday cottage, puzzled by the fact that I was the only one who had seen the creature in the mud. I ate my dinner. Washed up. Went to bed. I don’t remember much beyond that. A strange buzzing in my head, a kind of dull excitement that made sleeping difficult. Dinner hadn’t quite filled me.
But in the darkness, I couldn’t tell you the time, late night, early morning, low tide, I found myself by the quayside. A strange sense of being too early, of the tide not being far enough gone. It didn’t matter. I took off my clothes and walked down the steps. I could hear the water softly lapping, but I wasn’t here for the water.
I laid down in the mud. Without even thinking about it.
I felt it all over me. It was both hot and cold as I sank further into it. I writhed about in it. My whole body thrilled to the sensation of it. It was slippery and wet and I felt delirious joy in its slimy moist stickiness. I rolled and wriggled and laughed out loud. I sighed and screamed and whored myself to it. Sated, eventually. I got up and went home.
I had the good sense to shower before going to bed. I slept, at first the sleep of angels and then the restless sleep of an appetite that could not be met in the daylight hours. I donned cap and glasses and stalked the town. Like everyone else.
The next night, I did the same again. I knelt at first and covered myself in the mud and then I lay down and writhed and screamed and hollered my enjoyment. And I was not alone. There were others, other women, doing the same as me. We did not touch each other. We did not speak to each other. Each of us existed and acted alone, screaming mud fuelled ecstasy into the darkness.
It ought to have woken half the town. But no one came to watch. I was only to stay a week, but I begged another week from the landlady. By day I wandered through the town, a ghost. By night, I rolled and played in its muddy foreshore, happier at that moment than I have ever been, either before or since.
By the third week and tired of the mud, the landlady, accustomed no doubt to such strange behaviour, took me to the woodshed. There was a bed, browned sheets and a heater. I stayed there. I did not eat. I could not sleep. I longed for the night time, for the mud, its warmth, its coolness, its slimy, sticky covering. Every night, the same compulsion drove me to the shore, to luxuriate in its murky wetness. Every morning, the hunger and longing came again.
And then one day, just like that-the wrong tide, a different moon, the spell broke. I slept and awoke, hungry, dirty-covered in mud. Horrified, I showered, ate, left. Leaving the sunglasses and cap on the bed. I have never been back. I cannot explain it. I wait for the hunger to come again.