The man sat on the rock, motionless. It was as if he was part of the rock, but every few minutes he would shift, resettle. The gulls around him would pretend at flying before settling. It gave a very distinct and disconcerting impression of anthropomorphism. My eyes blurred with tears and the rock just looked like a large animal, hunched over, breathing.
The man was staring out to sea. I was staring at him because I could not look inward. The gremlins. Usually, my mind was filled with frivolous notions and bits of prose. Not old voices. Not the smell of vanilla in a warm kitchen when I was so small the world seemed destined to eat me up. Or to go on forever. In those days of homemade bread and sanguine meanderings, well, I never saw the truth coming until it hit me right in the face.
The truth was that I was failing. Instead of one notable success, I had collection of soft, mauve, failures. Bland shortcomings. My mouth tasted of tooth decay. I tried to smile at women and frightened them. Or I spoke and couldn't even compose words. People talked to me and I said things like, "yurp erm." And they never looked surprised. They weren't listening.
The sky was a raincloud grey mass. Like the sky was falling slowly. Or the ocean was making an ascent into the heavens. Or like the world were one great bowl of porridge. No cream. No sugar. No raisins. Just a bowl of sludge that will, at most, keep you alive and wanting more. Even though it will always taste the same. A warm, cardboard dryness. A paste.
The man stood up and the gulls scattered and then returned, like they were pulled on elastic strings. He began to walk towards me. An old man, he was. Grey of hair and beard. He had a queer smile on his face. A smirk. It was not until he was almost on top of me, frozen in place, that I saw the resemblance. The same eyes. He smiled again, and I understood.