The Cádiz coast, southern Spain. As I write these lines, the winter solstice is just a few hours away. Mist hangs around throughout the morning, but by midday there is warm and comfortable sunshine, the heat that cats and the elderly go out in search of, life-giving. The Atlantic Ocean is a tapestry, a veneer over which longitudinal waves roll, breaking left to right over the reef, smooth and tempting for surfers. With the summer tourists gone, the hotels and restaurants closed for the season, the beach is a prize. I feel a prick of selfishness, of territoriality, no one else must know about this place; for the cold months, at least, let it be our refuge. The white light, the open shore, just a few travellers stretching inside their campers. There’s a military base not far from here, and a bit beyond that, the mouth of a harbour where cargo ships arrive ad infinitum. The beach, this de-humanised place, is an exception, a sliver that lets you pretend that the rest doesn’t matter, that it barely exists.
By Pablo Gutiérrez
Translated by Katie Whittemore
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