This picture was given some time ago to a writers group I attend, to act as an inspiration for an exercise piece. I’ll be honest: I don’t normally like ‘artificial’ inspiration like this. If I am writing to a brief for cash – fine, I’ll do it. If I am looking for inspiration for a piece of fiction, long or short, I rarely have any shortage of ideas that spur me on. Finishing a piece may prove difficult as joining that initial flourish to my destination meanders about but rarely do I feel the urge to have creation kickstarted.
So this sat around for ages before I sat down and thought about it. It has a surreal quality to it. Although a photographic medium nothing sits as photo-realism should. The car is perched, the woman’s hair and clothes are dry as she climbs over some sort of water covered ledge, and the perspective is shot to hell. And so at 0645hrs yesterday over a cup of tea and Red Leicester cheese and toast this appeared unbidden. (The photo was not present and no aquatic mammals were harmed in the writing of this piece).  

Consuela Martinez Agrande del Arroyo Norte had, she was forced to concede, been once more deserted. She knew it was in the nature of Sea Lions to be fickle but she had thought his love true. It was not as if Lester hated her. Indeed only the night before he had presented her with a lovingly arranged platter of Sea Bass. They were of course raw and bloodied where his teeth had taken their flashing silver souls, but what was an aquatic mammal to do? He had licked as much of the red, seeping life from them as he could. In his own way he understood her needs as well as anyone and knew that Sea Bass blood, however delicious and life giving, was not appreciated in some quarters. She thought of her reaction. Had she driven him away? But no. It was in the way of Sea Lions. A Seal may be for life but it was the mercurial nature of the Sea Lion that attracted her. The constant shapeshifting love that burned as the fires in Villarrica burn; bright, fierce viscous magma which can spill unconfined at the whim of God. If you wanted the plains around Madrid, stick to Seals.

She drove the Mini he had never quite mastered, a stick shift had been hubris too far, to the Rio del Sueños, and begun combing the banks for him. She had warned him against freshwater. The electrolytic imbalance drove him wild. Which, of course, was why he did it. Thrillseeker. Bad Sea Lion. She had shaken her hair in joy at the thought. And now she laughed suddenly as the car lurched and spun.

It was Lester!

His old party piece.

She had only half believed his tales of circus wildness when first they met. All Sea Lions had been on television, in blockbuster movies made by famous auteurs, or so they would tell you over a glass of brandy and tapas. But the first time she saw him flip a grand piano on his nose and spin it with his flippers, she had understood that here was a Sea Lion of veracity, mano a mano with the sea and the truth, not a pouting boy.

And now she could hear his grunting at the weight of the car as it began to spin wildly, each turn marked by a honk from his old theatrical horns. But she remembered amidst her excited giggles and laughter the flaw in his act. The cost of grand pianos when the good times dried up. One last spin and flip with his nose and then ‘Thwack!’, away with his tail flippers.

She crawled across the parapet of the Punto del Engaño to the honking of horns and Lester, once more in his pomp. barking her name.

Bloody Sea Lions.


But the heart wants what it wants.

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