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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1945

[short story by Neil Mountier]

Sadly,' sadly, I walked alone down the grey beach, forcing forgetting on a set remembering mind, seeing nothing but the unlit sand beneath my feet. I stumbled against a sandhill and unthoughtfully lay down on it. Memory rose with mocking eyes, so I started singing, to merge my special, sharp sadness into the dull ache of melancholy of the song. But the songs became unutterably sad, and I lay silent for a while.

And I began thinking half-aloud, trying to strip off the mannerisms and conditioned feelings that are the superficial me, and find what I really am, what I really desire and need—the I deep inside me, the I that feels and perceives the real things—the three-fold shape of a dark hill, the sudden heart in a smile. Talking to myself like this I really knew myself and knew my desires, and it seemed possible that, now knowing them, I could find some real fulfilment instead of the eternal disillusionment and dissatisfied emptiness. But I looked up and saw that Miriam had been standing beside me all the time, and her face was horrified with not-understanding. And she saw me looking at her, and turned and ran afraid along the beach. And I lay strangely still and dead.

Neil Mountier.