ENTRY ONE

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The sky is clear, the sea is placid, and the clamour of urban life has been exchanged for the distant cries of sea birds and the susurrus of low surf. So this is how it feels to be totally alone. I think I like it. Of course, after a month has passed, perhaps I'll feel differently.

The island is as wild and beautiful as promised, and after today – the last spring tide of October – no one can intrude upon me except by boat, which Mrs Andrews has promised they will not do.

Mrs Andrews is taking my luggage across from the larger island. She offered to take me, too, but I elected to wade across the channel while the sea permitted it; I needed to stretch my legs after the voyage, and the sun, in defiance of autumn, blazed hot enough that even the bitter chill of the Atlantic was not unwelcome.

I'm waiting for her as I write this, though it cannot be long now: she said she'd launch at half-tide, when the sandbanks wouldn't waylay her passage, and the water has drowned fully three-quarters of the beach as I've sat here in the dunes. If her boat doesn't appear soon, I may regret placing my trust in her.

The sun rests a finger's breadth above the hill behind me, and the dancing reflections it casts on the channel are beginning to take on the golden tint of evening. I'd like my things stowed in the cottage before it's dark, for the path is rutted and uneven, to say nothing of the overgrown bracken and brambles that seek to impede any progress. I shall have to cut them back tomorrow if I wish to keep my clothes in good condition.

With clothes on my mind as I put this to paper, it may have been ill-advised to wade when a boat was at my disposal. The air grows cooler, and my trousers and lower shirt remain damp and heavy. Even with a spring tide sending the sea into retreat, the middle of the channel ran deep – almost to my chest – and unless this unseasonable weather persists, the dampness could become a scourge to be rid of.

Added to that, while I found joy in greeting the island privately, parts of the crossing were less than pleasant. The long stretch of beach extending to the channel from the larger isle was littered with strips of rotting seaweed, stinking and infested with plagues of sandhoppers. I tied my boots around my neck to keep them dry and free of sand but regretted that decision quickly enough after stepping through weed without their protection. Sun-dried crusts abraded my soles, cracking and sinking into gluey pulp that pushed between my toes while swarms of displaced amphipods skittered across the tops of my feet.

The wade, not to be outdone, came replete with its own distressing sensations. Underwater, it felt as if the kelp grasped at my ankles, ribbon fingers tickling, stroking, catching. With its strands tangled together, it's stronger than it has any right to be: a rope of the sea, ready to bind an unwary wader to the seabed and hold them fast as the tide creeps inexorably over their head.

I'm allowing my imagination to get the better of me, of course, but there was a moment as I stood in the middle of the channel, after a lone cloud passed before the sun, that the darkened water seemed to take on a sinister bent. Unlike the genial canals back home, the sea can stir to anger from one breath to the next, and in that moment, I had the uncanny conviction that something watched me from beneath the waves – or even that the waves watched me themselves. Anything could hide in water so vast.

What waffle I am writing!

Fortunately I see Mrs Andrews' boat rounding the bottom of the larger isle, so I'll stow my pen and morbid musings for the day and go to help her unload.

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