Another Salvage extract

Salvage began as an image of two bodies on a beach, one at the edge of the swash, the other kneeling over it. These anonymous figures led to the novella. Here is that scene on the page:

Melanie spluttered back to wakefulness, groaned, then vomited, leaving her throat painfully raw. She shut her eyes until the vertigo had passed and she could feel the moist, compacted sand under her, and the icy tongue of the sea lapping around her legs and waist.

She was so cold. Frozen, except for the burn in her lungs. She coughed some more and tried to move, failed. And then she felt a presence near her head.

Richard? Her body managed to find enough hot blood to flush her cheeks with embarrassment at the thought of her husband seeing her so bedraggled and pathetic.

But when she raised her head, ready for his jibes or, perhaps worse, his pity, she found instead a young woman crouching on the balls of her bare feet studying her as a child might examine a jelly fish. It wouldn’t have surprised Melanie if the woman had picked up a stick and started prodding her.

Shame welled up inside — relief that it wasn’t Richard, but still shame that someone should see her like this. Another wave foamed around her thighs. Had the ocean thrown her to the very edge of its domain? Or had she crawled free, driven by some primitive urge even after consciousness had abandoned her?

‘Why did you swim in your clothes?’ the woman asked.

Melanie shook her head, remembering taking off her shoes so carefully, but feeling shy about removing her clothes, of not wanting to bare her failed body to even the elements. Her pants were gone; she was wearing only her tracksuit top, t-shirt and knickers. She had to cover up. She had to get out of the water. Melanie heaved herself forward and the woman hopped back out of reach, as though this strange specimen might be contagious.

Wise woman. You don’t want what I’ve got.

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