Midnight: every church across the Lune Valley rolls out the clock. Far beneath the ocean, a ghost ship swings in dark space. In the lowest pools mermaids turn tail and their pulse cools. Below the old ship a dead King lolls in a throne of green seafossil. Tiny fuschia fish swim through the surprised empty clock of his face.
Here on the surface the cracked bell chimes, pumpkins sag in the allotments, tiny mice-men scuffle to their duty beyond the pillars and urns of the Palace Ballroom. The dead King hears the creak of water above him, the swell of tide and time. Tiny bubbles rise from his body to the surface.
My midnight feet are made of glass, as we struggle back up the shingly beach, lolling in each others arms, back to the matronly seaside, with the whisky-hollowed faces of the men on the street corners, and the gleam of patent leather boots and a flash of transvestite thigh. The moon shuts her pearl eye and winks. A bare flex runs from my heart to his. The clock strikes its ultimatum. I hold my breath and wait for transformation as I always have. Behind us the sea shucks off its green jewels as we look for an abandoned doorway to kiss in
As the sky lifts its dark skirts the gulls scrawl exciting hieroglyphs across the surface of the day. Slowly under the ocean the ship tilts and the King's arm rises slowly, pointing to noon, to no-one, to a palindrome of timelessness, waving not drowning. The King is dead, long live the King. I sit on the shingle and inspect my bleeding feet. A sumptuous belief in living happily ever after is beckoning