The Rainham Diver – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

The tide slips away, the river lowers, and he is there beneath the water. Striding across the mud towards the bank, he does not move. Seagulls circle overhead and shriek, boats chug past going East or West, but he does move. His body is a cage that imprisons river water with each high tide, releasing it as the moon shifts. In front of him, the reeds lead up to the bank, and beyond them the oil refineries, chemical works and factories that line the estuary all the way to the sea. Behind him is more of the same, just with the heaving mass of grey water between. He has sunk into the thick, green mud and so there he stays; a grey figure against a grey skyline. And he does not move.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nOriginally from Essex, Rebecca Metcalfe studied first at the University of Chester and then at the University of Liverpool. She now lives in an attic in Manchester with two black cats and works part time in a museum and part time in a restaurant. She has previously been published in Spelk, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Peach Street Magazine, Lumpen Journal, and Foxglove Journal, among others. She can be found on Twitter at @beckyannwriter.

Canvey Island – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

We spend the afternoon playing on the beach surrounded by fumes from the oil-refineries and chemical works. With our plastic spades we build sandcastles and dig for buried treasure. There’s a picnic of marmalade sandwiches and cartons of Ribena, then a shout of “tag: you’re it” starts the running around games. The tide hisses at us if we get too close. We run up to the bulging concrete flood-barrier and take it in turns to sneak round the edge to see if we can spot the troll we know lives behind it. He’ll get us if he sees us. We climb up and jump off into the sand with a thud. We have to rub our hands furiously up and down our legs to get the sand off before we can get back in the car. The drive home smells of seaweed and factory fumes, and we sit and laugh as we pick the grit out from under our fingernails.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nOriginally from Essex, Rebecca Metcalfe studied first at the University of Chester and then at the University of Liverpool. She now lives in an attic in Manchester with two black cats and works part time in a museum and part time in a restaurant. She has previously been published in Spelk, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Peach Street Magazine, Lumpen Journal, and Foxglove Journal, among others. She can be found on Twitter at @beckyannwriter.

Coldharbour Lane – Rebecca Metcalfe

 

You drive to the end of the lane. Past the rice factory, the seafood processing plant, the paper factory, the chemical works, the pharmaceutical plant. Grey upon grey upon grey sails past your car window and then disappears into your rear-view mirror as you drive further down the lane. You reach the turning at the end of the lane, the road narrows and there are dense bushes either side. You reach the carpark at the end, and you see the river. The wide, grey river where the tide beats endlessly on, eastwards. Mud lines the banks on both sides, thick, stinking mud that will never clean off. The footprints snaking across this ooze show the steps took by recently-flown wading birds that are now no longer to be seen. A bit closer to the water, the hulking mass of the concrete barges, leftover from some war long past, sit and refuse to rot, only crumble slowly. Then there’s the metal statue of a diver, who looks like a cage and crawls out of the water whenever the tide is going out. He will never reach the bank. The water of the river is violent and boats jolt along it. Police boats or cargo boats carrying industrial containers in and out of the city. Going eastward, they are on the very edges of the city now. The factory smoke mixes with the clouds and they roll across the paleness along with the tide, heading out to sea and waiting to hit the vast East Anglian sky.

 

 

22752130_10210178275199633_1006394601_nRebecca Metcalfe is a 22-year-old student and writer from Essex. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Chester and is now studying for an MA in Victorian Literature from the University of Liverpool. She has been published in Pandora’s Box, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine and in the Electric Reads Young Writers’ Anthology 2017.