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Part A - An excerpt from the Prologue of Beach Music by Pat Conroy, my favourite novel.
If I’d just opened a random page, I could have found some amazing setting to share with you. Chapter 1 begins with such a sensuous description of the Piazza Farnese in Rome you have to blink to make sure you’re not actually there, so strong is the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and so vivid the descriptions of the morning activity in the Piazza. And I’m sure South Carolina never had prettier words written to describe it. But the descriptions that never leave me are found in the Prologue. I have taken excerpts from pp. 19-23, where the teenage Jack is sky larking with a group of his graduate high-school classmates who have gathered in a condemned house on St Michael’s Island, South Carolina, on the night it was predicted the house would break up and fall into the sea. This section is reminiscent of the whole novel, where Conroy, a master of setting as character, parallels the coming together of himself and his great love, Shyla, against the backdrop of the raging Atlantic Ocean.
This of course, foreshadows one of many tragedies which is to come...
"THE sea rose invisibly beneath us and the moon shone smooth and bright. A glossy flute of light, like velvet down a bridal aisle, lit the marlin scales and the backs of whales migrating a hundred miles at sea. The tides surged through the marsh and each wave that hit the beach came light-struck and broad-shouldered, with all the raw power the moon could bestow. Magically, an hour passed and we, ocean dancers and tide challengers, found ourselves listening to the sea directly beneath us as the waves began to crash in earnest against the house...
I looked around to see Shyla Fox in the moonlight. She looked as though she had dressed for this moment with the help of the moon…
We danced toward the central motion of our lives. The winds roared and a strange love rose like a tide between us and rested in the crown of waves that was loosening the frame of the house. Alone we danced beneath the full moon…
I heard the house shudder and push off as it took its first primal step towards the sea. The house tilted, then fell forward as though it were prostrating itself before the power of this tidal surge.
We went out to the newly imbalanced balcony, holding hands. The moon lit the sea in a freeway of papery light and we watched the boiling white caps feeding on the broken cement scattered beneath the house. We continued to dance while the house kept its appointment with the long tide and I blazed with the love of this young girl.
Our love began and ended with seawater."270 words
I write in Australian English which uses the 'u' and 's' and double 'l' and 're' not 'er', where you might use no 'u' and 'z' instead of 's' and a single 'l'. Just so you don't correct my spelling, lol! As I've waxed eloquent on Conroy, I've edited my story down, well under 1,000 words.
Someone screamed ‘Darawem!’ ('Stop!')and we froze like sphinxes in the desert, clutching weapons to our chests.
A soldier pulled me roughly, backwards against his chest.