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Location: A small island. Two scenes near the sea; one scene
in a house.
Time: Late summer.
Martin: Mid to late-twenties.
Kay: Martin's ex-girlfriend. Same age as Martin.
Alison: Martin's ex-wife. Two years older than Martin.
Patrick: A fisherman's son, and van driver. A year younger
A bench overlooking a beach on a wild bit of coast.
You couldn't pick a bleaker season to
What are you trying to say?
You can hear what I'm saying. The sea is
not that loud.
You're saying I should stay?
I'm saying that you're running away, that
you'll leave me here to face things until
you decide to come back.
Are you ever coming back?
I don't... I don't know.
What are your intentions?
What do you mean?
Why do you keep asking me what I mean?
I'm speaking English aren't I? These
sounds I make fit in your ears like keys
in a lock, but they don't unlock sense in
you. I mean, the thought processes you
went through in your head to make you go.
You know why I have to leave.
The situation has become impossible.
Everything. I feel like... I feel like
I'm being crushed. Like that time we went
into the caves together - you remember.
Why do you confuse everything and mix it
up? That's why you leap from rock to rock
to the wrong conclusions. Keep them in
separate boxes, and judge each one in
turn. Don't confuse your panic in the
cave when the tide came in with your
situation now. Those are two different
It's the same feeling.
You feel trapped, you mean?
It's the same feeling. I'm sitting on a
ledge at the back of the cave and the
tide is coming higher, the black water is
almost at my feet and I have no idea if
it's going to stop before I drown.
Martin, you have too much imagination.
You see symbols in everything. I wish you
could... I wish you could just stick to
I've thought it all through and there's
no going back.
You've thought through all your friends,
your family, your children? You've
thought them through so you can live
I will if I have to.
Why do that to yourself? Why put yourself
through all that suffering, just because
you can't face up to your problems?
There's no solution to them, you can see
that. She'll blame me forever and make me
pay for leaving her. I can't even see my
own children without asking her. What
future do I have?
You could have had a future with me.
It didn't work out. I left her for you
and it didn't work out. Why do you even
care about me?
Because I loved you, I still care.
Because I still do, I don't want to see
you throw your life away.
What is there to throw? It's pathetic.
I'm pathetic. I've failed at everything
I don't want you to go.
But you can't help me either.
I can talk to you.
Everybody cares about you.
Do they? Why do I feel like this then?
You think too much. You don't need to
think about your situation. All you need
is attitude to see you through. You need
to be defiant.
How can I be defiant on my own? I'm all
on my own and no-one can help me. That's
why I'm leaving. At least then I'll be
really on my own instead of struggling
with the illusion of community, as if
anyone can save me from my...
Don't say that. There's no such thing.
You make your own.
Remember that teacher we had in the
second year, the R.E. one, with the hairy
arms and bushy eyebrows.
Mr Rockintain, who used to sit the
prettiest girls at the front and lean his
arms on their desk while describing the
fertility rites of the Assyrians.
And whenever the girls discussed their
homework he put his arm around their
shoulders with a firm, fatherly grip.
Mr Rockintain from Bloemfontaine. Was he
from Bloemfontaine, Mr Rockintain?
He was South African.
He used to say you judge a tree by its
fruits. And the diseased bush brings
forth sour berries.
He was full of bullshit.
No he wasn't - look at me. My life is a
result of the chaos inside me. I've
willed it, I've produced it, it's the
fruit of my character. I've upset
No you haven't. People like you.
Do they? You left me.
You know what happened.
You found someone else, someone less
That's not true. I waited three months
after leaving you before I even went out
at night. I stayed in my room and didn't
speak to anyone. Do you think I don't
I don't know what you think.
I'm always saying it. Maybe you don't
What I heard is that you've found someone
else, but I'm still on my own. I left her
You would have left her anyway - you told
me that. You hadn't been getting on for
years, it was all over, is what you said.
You can hear the waves exploding inside
the caves. It's a spring tide. Look
around you. How can you leave all this
beauty to go and work on a dirty ship as
an engineer, surrounded by boring men who
speak only about football and women? Is
that what you want?
It's an escape.
And meanwhile, will you think of me back
You'll be with him. I'll exclude you from
my thoughts. I can put everyone out of my
Including your children?
I'll write to them. I'll sit in my cabin
with the porthole open as we sail past
the Andabar coast, the uninhabited
beaches and coconut forests present in
the corner of my vision. Every week I'll
write them long letters which I'll post
from exotic cities and over the years
they can build up a picture of what it's
What what is like?
You won't have a life. You'll just have
series of places you reside. That's not a
life. You need people who know you in
order to have a life.
So, you're happy with him then?
I don't think like that. I haven't
noticed any discord.
I still dream about you. Why is that?
We've known each other so long.
Maybe we should have gone out together
before. Maybe I should have married you
instead of her and you could have had my
Our children. You make it sound so
archaic and patriarchal. It's not like
that any more.
I know, but sometimes if you say it like
it was, it's reassuring.
No it isn't. It just creates a big sense
of loss. You need to get used to the way
things are, until they change. Anyway, if
we'd done that, it would have been us
that had got divorced instead of you and
But then I would've known you.
I want to go down to the water and walk
along the beach. Do you want to come?
No, I'll wait here.
Kay leaves the stage. After a second or two, Patrick enters.
I was driving past and I saw you two
sitting here so I thought I'd stop and
talk to you. Where's she gone?
For a walk.
I thought you weren't going out together
I thought not. She's got some other bloke
though, hasn't she?
Don't tell me she didn't tell you.
Why should she tell me?
Everyone at work knows.
I'm not at work.
Why aren't you?
No you haven't.
Yes I have. I'm leaving next Friday. I'm
just using up my holiday.
You resigned from Finch's? You're mad. No
one ever resigns from Finch's. Where are
you going to work?
I'm leaving the island to work on a ship.
I'm training to be an engineer.
You don't know anything about
engineering. You're winding me up.
Why would I do that?
Because you know me - everyone winds me
You had a really good job there. You
would have been head of department in ten
years, if you'd stayed.
I can't be a pen pusher forever.
Well, they might take you back, if you're
I'm not coming back.
Of course you are. No-one goes away
forever. They all come back sooner or
later. It's like a magnet, this rock. My
dad said an islander can never be happy
Your dad wasn't happy here.
He enjoyed his fishing.
What are you doing out here anyway?
Deliveries. I had to do a drop at the far
end of the bay and I thought, 'I know
what - I'll pull off the road and take my
lunch down there.' Watch the waves, like.
It's spring tide tonight. It'll be coming
up over the harbour walls.
(looking at his
Cheese and tomato. My mother always makes
me cheese and tomato unless I tell her.
It's a perfect mixture mind you. So when
are you going then?
In a couple of weeks I suppose. Which
The old AV line, eh. Zanzibar, Kerala,
Djibouti, Singapore, Hong Kong, Adelaide.
Probably. My grandpa was at sea. That's
how he bought that house at St Martin's.
You know the one, the big one at the top
of the hill, with the pigeon loft. He
built that himself. Not the house, just
the pigeon loft. She'll miss you, I
suppose. Even though she's with someone
else. Mind you, it's all different now.
What do you mean?
Too much cheap labour. Russians,
Filipinos, Indians. You're competing with
Indians, you know? They think that ten
thousand a year is a good rate, and they
put up with worse conditions. You'll
probably be working next to them. Good
Could be lonely, if you don't speak their
language and you're all alone in your
cabin. You'll miss your children. I
You don't have any.
If I did, I would.
I'll never leave the island. I'd pine
away, like that dolphin they kept in the
tank. Sickened and died it did but they
could find nothing wrong with it. Stands
to reason - you take something from its
natural environment, it can't survive.
Human beings are different. They roam the
globe and always have done. We have
migration in our souls.
Only if they have to, if something forces
If something forces them out.
You know, some kind of pressure. Dyou
want a sandwich?
I don't think you should go. You'll upset
the balance of the island and someone
will have to take your place.
Oop, here she comes.
Hi, Patrick. How are you?
Fine. Did you see the lifeboat coming
No. The surf's about ten feet high. You
can hardly see past it.
Some tourist got trapped on the rocks and
when the tide came in, he started
climbing up the cliff. The lifeboat
couldn't get to him and they had to pluck
him off with the helicopter.
Was he okay?
Suffering from shock. His fingers were
locked to the rock. They had to peel him
off, apparently. Balanced there with his
eyes shut, crying he was, saying, "God
save me, God save me". It's amazing how
things can change so quickly when you're
near the sea. One minute everything is
safe and calm, the next you're in mortal
danger. Why aren't you at work?
I took the morning off. I'll be in this
I wouldn't bother if I were you. The
place is crawling with auditors. They've
taken up all the spare desks, including
Why are the auditors in? We're only three
months into the financial year.
I don't know. I'm just a van driver. All
I know is that everyone in Accounts is
going around with a poker face whispering
to each other. No-one will tell me
anything. Well, I'd better be getting
back. I'll see you later then.
I hope to see you before you go. Are you
having a leaving do at work?
I'm not arranging it. I doubt anyone else
You're a funny bugger, aren't you. Why
don't you get on with people?
People at work. People like me.
I get on with you, don't I? We've never
had an argument.
I mean you should be smoother, so's you
don't antagonize people. You'll find it
hard on board a ship unless you change
your attitude. They'll bollock you.
Squeeze your bollocks until you scream.
They do that to all the new engineers.
Grease the little monkeys. That'll smooth
you out a bit. Anyway, I'm really going
What's all that about?
He's almost a simpleton. That's why he
only drives a van.
No, about the auditors. Do you think they
Nah. That was last year. The books were
signed off. They would have discovered it
then, not now.
But when I borrowed the money to cover up
for you, I took it from the Mayhew
account, which is a deferred account
that's only balanced every two years.
What if someone's noticed now?
Don't worry about it. It's probably
something else, nothing to do with us.
Is that why you resigned, before they
No. I'd forgotten all about it.
Promise me you haven't taken any more.
I haven't, honest.
Yes. You know the situation I was in last
year. I did something stupid that's all.
They'll never know.
They could still find out. I'm going to
go back and find out what's happening.
What are you doing?
I'm going to say goodbye to my children.
You're not going anywhere yet are you?
Martin, you're staying till next week.
Don't go without saying goodbye to me. I
want to... Come here.
She holds him tight.
I'm worried about you.
You don't have to be. I'll be okay.
What if they have found out? I'm in the
wrong too, for covering up for you.
I never asked you to.
She pushes him away.
I know you never asked me to. That's not
the point. Don't you care what happens to
me? We could both go to jail for this. At
the least, I'll have to leave the island
or I'll never work again.
I'll offer to pay them back and I'll tell
them I made you do it. I forced you.
I'll still lose my job. What can I do on
an island this size with a ruined
reputation? I'll have to go away. Oh my
god, oh my god, what a mess.
Just go into work as normal and find out
what's happening. I'll ring you after
Martin is at the house of his ex-wife, Alison. She's sat at a
table, tapping her fingers irritatedly.
I want to see my children.
They're not here. Now get out.
Where are they?
They're somewhere else and you can't see
I have a right to see them.
No you don't. You deprived yourself of
that right when you stopped paying
How much did I pay you last year?
That was last year. You haven't paid me
anything for the last three months. How
do you think I'm surviving?
It doesn't stop me being their father.
Doesn't it? We'll see about that.
Martin starts walking further into the house to look for the
Are they upstairs.
Alison jumps up and stands in front of him.
Don't you go in there. Get out of my
It's still my house, you know. I pay for
No you don't - that's just the point. You
walked out on your children and now
you've stopped supporting them. You have
no rights. You're no longer a father to
What have you told them?
I don't have to tell them anything. They
can work things out for themselves.
They're only young. You're poisoning
their minds against me. When they're
older, they'll discover the truth.
They know it already. The truth is that
you're not here. You abandoned them to go
and live with someone else. Your actions
speak for themselves.
Oh, and you speak for me, do you, to
them? You tell them what you want them to
I don't talk about her. What do I want to
talk about her for?
I don't mean her, I mean me. You tell
them what you like about me but you leave
out the truth, which is that I left
because we were both unhappy. Not just me
- you as well.
I didn't want you to go.
Of course you didn't. I just came back
one day and my bags happened to be packed
and waiting by the door.
Well, I found out about her. But it was a
mistake. I was jealous and betrayed but I
regretted it later.
I would have told you but you were
already with her - that, thing. I suppose
that she's pleased with herself, taking
you away from me?
It was nothing to do with her. She didn't
even know about you at the start. Anyway,
we split up a month ago so that doesn't
You split up? You're lying.
I'm not. She's got someone else.
So who are you with now?
No-one. I'm on my own.
What happened? Wouldn't she take you like
I was too 'difficult' for her.
Really? So do you believe me now?
I never said I didn't. I had my own
issues, with you.
We could have got over those. We could
still get over them.
It's too late. You can't go back. You can
only go forwards.
No, there isn't... there isn't any back
and forwards. There's only what we want
to do, and I want you to come back and
try again. This is where you should be,
with your family, not off on your own,
wading through a sea of strangers. Here,
with me and the kids. Martin - come back.
I can't. I've made up my mind. I'm going
away, aboard ship. I've got a job at sea,
training as an engineer. Everything opens
up. It's a new life for me, somewhere I
can start again without repeating my
That's not what you want. I know what you
want, and it's not that. I even know what
you like. She doesn't.
I've told them 'yes' and the date is
planned. I leave in two weeks.
I've left my job.
They'll take you back.
I've told all my friends and family.
I'll look a fool.
It's better to look a fool than be one.
Think about it, Martin. I've missed you
so much. I haven't been able to tell you
because I was angry with you, but I think
about you every day, remembering the
times we spent together, the days on the
beach with the children. Do you remember,
chasing them on the sands and into the
water, swimming with them on your back,
building sandcastles and breaking them
down? Do you remember the bedtime stories
and the morning games, the fun and
laughter? It could be like that again,
but even better this time because you'll
know what you've got since you lost it.
We've got the opportunity now to make
another go of it. Don't ruin it by
running off in pursuit of some stupid
dream that can't come true.
Get off of me. Let me think.
A knock at the door. They don't answer it. Patrick calls out
It sounds like Patrick, from work. Come
Patrick comes in, excited.
Oh, hi, Alison.
I need to talk to Martin.
Yeah, I think... I need to talk to him
It's about Kay... She sent me.
Oh yeah - I thought you'd finished with
I still work with her.
The police are there, at work. They're
talking to her in Finchie's office.
Something to do with the auditors.
Did you speak to her?
Just before they took her in. She said to
tell you that the police knew and that
you were to get away. What does she mean?
Are you in trouble?
Maybe. I need to get off the island. What
time is the last ferry?
Five o'clock. But if the police are
looking for you, they'll be watching the
What have you done, Martin?
Nothing. It doesn't matter.
What, the police are looking for you and
it doesn't matter? What has she got you
She didn't get me into anything. She
tried to cover up for me.
Cover up what?
I stole some money, last year, when we
were sorting out the divorce. It wasn't
much - a few hundred here and there. I
intended to put it back but I never could
afford it. Kay found out and managed to
Oh, Martin, you stupid, stupid idiot. Why
did you do that?
I did it for you and the children, didn't
I! So that at least you could have a
life. I didn't want to see them go
Now what will happen?
He'll go to prison, probably.
Thanks, Patrick. No I won't. I'll explain
to them and pay it back.
You'll never work again.
I'm going away. I'll get away and then
write to them. I'll send them the money
and explain. I just need to get off the
island. I need a boat.
You've never handled a boat. The currents
and reefs are treachorous round here:
Devil's Deep, Dead Man's gulley, the
Savage Sands, the Black End Monkeys, the
Okay, okay. You take me then.
I don't have a boat.
Your uncle does though. I've seen him at
dawn, motoring out into the bay to lay
his lobster pots. You could borrow it
this evening and take me to the mainland.
You'd be back by the morning.
I'd be worse than you, helping you to get
I don't know that I'm wanted yet, do I?
You just say I asked you to take me to
the mainland but I didn't tell you why.
Ah, but you did. And then that lie would
stick in my craw like a hook and I
wouldn't speak straight when they asked
You'd help a friend, wouldn't you? We
were at school together, remember?
Ricky, Roland, Robert, in the middle of
the field playing flick-knife down.
I stopped them braining you, the time you
dribbled and wept.
And then you let me join the gang. For a
That's right. And now you won't let me be
arrested will you? A dash across the
waves, you and me, heading out to sea,
the bow proudly chesting the insolent
waves, defying the skin-stinging spray.
Navigating the old whale-road, past Dead
Man's gulley to the other side. I've
never been to the mainland.
You'd love it there, where everything is
bigger - the streets, the bars...the
women. Fancy that? We'd go ashore and
swagger round, for a day or two, spend
our money on beer and women and then I'd
go to sea and you'd come back.
What if they ask me?
You're different then. You'll wear the
mainland mark, the mark of Cain. You tell
them straight that I asked you to take me
and you took. No questions asked.
And nothing answered. I'll fetch the boat
and collect you from the cliffs.
That's too visible, down there on the
rocks, exposed like a hermit crab between
Hide inside the caves where the crevice
is deep. At high tide I'll navigate the
gulley and pluck you off, nudge the bow
against the ledge and on you leap, then
full astern into deeper water. You see
how I handle it.
Don't wait till high. Come before,
sooner, no later than seven. You get my
You get my drift?
I get it. Generations of Cabots have
filled my veins. They won't let you down.
Go on then, be your father's son.
You can't do this. Stay here and face up
It's the face of things that offends me.
A high dune overlooking the bay.
Alison is looking out to sea and Kay walks up behind her.
I can't see him.
Without you, none of this...
Am I too late?
... would have happened.
You can talk to me, you know.
Why should I?
I knew him before you. It's me he dreams
But I have his past. His memories out
weigh his dreams.
Tell me where he is.
He's hiding in the caves until the tide
is high and then he's not coming back.
No-one ever leaves this island without
coming back. There's time to stop him.
Stop him? So you can be in prison
together? It's better that you let him go
to where he can just condemn himself than
let him stay and be condemned by others.
He won't be condemned. I smoothed it
As smooth as silence. As smooth as
Silence isn't smooth. You lied for him?
I took the blame. They think it's me.
He's innocent, now he's in the cave. It's
not too late to bring him back to light.
I'm going down.
Don't go down. The tide's too high. Wait
for Patrick to pick him up and then we'll
wave him in.
I'm not waiting for Patrick. If you loved
him, you'd do the same, wouldn't you?
Would I? Or would I wait at home for the
lifeboat siren to call the volunteers
from their dinners and runts, or watch
from a headland as the lifeboat churns
the waves like butter and is lost behind
a mountain of man-choking foam? What
would I do?
You'd do the easiest, which is why he
left you. You'd even take him back. I'll
get to him first and tell him he's safe.
You'd be lying. He isn't safe. He's never
been safe. None of us has.
I'm still going, while the cave's mouth
It's a good spring tide. It'll be coming
up over the harbour walls by now.
Patrick! Why aren't you out there in your
uncle's boat, picking him up?
I couldn't do it.
You made him a promise.
It didn't seem right somehow.
Now he's down there on his own, in the
cave with the tide coming up.
To make a journey based on a lie.
Look, she's trying to get to him but
there's huge surf breaking over the
Everyone goes on about the mainland but
you won't find me going there.
Are you going to help her?
Everything's bigger. The streets, the
bars, the women. Even the small things
are big over there.
She's going to be washed off the rocks.
I'm going to help her. Are you coming?
You go. I'll keep lookout for the
You coward! Kay! Hold on, I'm coming.
When the wind rages here, it's like a
fortress, the man-defying cliffs plunging
down to an older time. So many lives have
been lost on this island, the ones who
drowned as they tried to get away; the
ones who were subject to a slow decay.
They hear stories about the mainland and
it makes their hearts beat fast to think
there is another world just across the
water. In full summer, from the high
cliffs, you can see its bone-white
beaches shimmering through the haze of
the mackerel-sparkling sea. The tiny
people on its shores lead bigger lives
than us; it makes you dizzy to think how
happy they must be, and how it would be
so easy to get there, if you could step
from the cliffs of Calentura and walk
across the seeming-solid sea.
But no-one ever does. No-one ever does.
You see down there? There are three more
lives the waves have taken.
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