My friend’s 9-year old son found a dead baby porpoise on the beach today.
We were on the long undercliff path that runs from Brighton for miles east beneath the high crumbling chalk cliffs that I love. The sea was angry and pea-green, seaweed and crab shells and cuttlefish bones flung all the way past the usual high tide line right up against the sea wall, wind so strong we had to lean into it to walk and talking was impossible above the din. He cycled ahead, wobbling in the gusts. Suddenly he got off the bike, left it on the path and disappeared onto the pebbles. Came running back to me, freckled cheeks flushed.
“Hey Justine Bieber, wanna see something cool?”
He calls me Justine Bieber.
I said yes, yes I wanted to see something cool so ran with him to the beach and there was the two-foot long body, shiny black on one side with its belly open and empty. The smell. My god. The empty eye sockets. The chubby tail with skin and blubber gouged from it. The poor little dude.
“See,” the boy said, grinning, “told you it was cool.”