Diwedd y Tir
The beach hunkered back against the real land, stretched out too thin and unhappy with being neither city nor ocean. Julian sat among the tufts of harsh green grass that poked out of the dunes. He exhaled his last lungful of smoke, and pushed the stub into the ground.
He stared over the horizon and saw the end of the world. Not just a figure of speech – Diwedd y Tir was one of the few places in the world where smoke and sky-scrapers didn’t drop a comforting vale over the slowly creeping end of the world. Yesterday,
Away down the beach, there was a crowd of children standing by the land’s end and hurling stones into the water.
He’d come down here to find something. He’d come to stand on the edge of infinity – as one of the raving street-poets had coined it one night under his window while he was trying to sleep – to stare at the thin line where the sea met the sky and world ended.
Over his shoulder, he could feel the castle. From where he sat, if he squinted, he could make out the stick-figure forms of the soldiers walking the ramparts, automatic weapons slung across their chests and low-frequency radio antenna poking out from their fat helmets. People felt happier with the castle and the soldiers there.
They felt happier knowing that the beach was being guarded by the Royal Welsh and most expensive weaponry the government could afford. When the squalls beat up from the sea and when the wind and rain lashed at the sky, splitting it with cracks of thunder and forks of lightening, the soldiers levelled their arms and let round after round after explosive, plutonium-tipped round lose, hoping to hit something that wasn’t there.
Julian opened his packet of cigarettes and found it empty. He took the lighter out his pocket and hurled it at the sea, and shrugged to himself when it fell dozens of feet short. He caught movement out the corner of his eye and glanced up just in time to see a beach ball coloured in summer-strips bouncing away down the beach. It showed no signs of stopping.
Kicking his shoes and socks off, he began to mooch down the sands. The ground under his feet was damp and cold.
People said a lot of different things about the water. It was cold, they said, cold enough to steal your soul if you let it touch you. It was cold, Julian agreed as the foam of broken waves covered his bare feet.
Rocking with the inconsistent waves, he saw something tethered to a buoy. Something that floated on the water, balanced on it. He took his coat off and dived into the freezing ocean.
His fingers clutched at the rim of encrusted, rotting row boat and persistence gave him a helping hand inside. He lay on the ridged bottom, his hair and legs draped in the stagnant pools of water. The sky above him was an uncommitted, blotched grey and the sun refused to do anything than nod towards the human beings still clutching to the dissolving skin of the Earth.
Julian pulled the boat against the waves, ridding over the buckled skin of the ocean. The land was slowly disappearing and he stared at the stern of the boat and the waves crashing over it. Occasionally he twisted himself to look at the horizon.
He shook his head against the cold rain that pattered against his face, taking his hand off the oar to brush the hair away. The thick grey stone of the castle and its soldiers had dwindled to a smear on the horizon that could be mistaken for a cloud. From out here, it was hard to make out anything other than the even horizon of the land.
From out here, maybe it was easy to understand why Nothing thought that there was nothing there, too, and feeling the cold touch of its fingers on his shoulders, maybe it was easy to understand why Nothing didn’t want to be alone any more.
DYLAN says that writing is the way that has has grown to understand the world. “It's not about containing or explaining, but about translating things into a language he can understand and then communicating them with others. Diwedd Y Tir started off life as I stood on Harlech Beach and stared out to where the sea met the sky, and brought the title into my head: 'End of the Land', or 'Land's End'."