Strung like a puppet, it jerked along the beach. Lurched, picking mournfully around the pebbles. Some grotesque promenade. I was ashamed by a double-take at first and a tiny fizz of adrenalin. That quick coursing cocktail of fear and horror, when you think you've seen a car accident but it was only a child shrieking. Or alone in your kitchen you imagine a poltergeist. Near by me she vacantly surveyed the sea vis-à-vis noon sun. Slowly flagged out, a leaden towel. I looked away, mortified. Mothers pulled their children close and busied them with sand-castles. Little boys did not point or stare. Teenage girls didn't whisper and giggle. Men harumphed and gruffed and rolled onto their bellies into paperbacks. She shed a light shroud and sat down. The beach stiffened.
More naked than nudity is the mind laid bare. More offensive, more shocking, a public disintegration. She ran a slick of oil over her mahogany hide to emphasise it. Chocolate black and burnt red, leathered like the bog people. Impossibly taut over a skeleton that it might tear at the hip or an elbow pop through. Every rib every tarsal accountable. Abhorrent. Where once buttocks pretty cotton triangles lashed to a pelvis and a big gaunt head balanced on top. Breasts and menses long gone. Some claim control over their life by dispensing with it off a bridge. This wretched creature cursed to scorch and starve herself to death, undoubtedly. As she disintegrated into the sand she resembled Akhenaten in repose. A nose. Ten boney toes. I blinked at the sea, at the girl, I sat upright agitated in her wake. I lost my appetite for the afternoon and left.