Posted by Will Lunn
30th May 2015


Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time.
David Bowie

The dramatic almost powdery theatrical voice of Bowie was still fresh in Joe’s mind as he led the dog through the gap in the wall and down the short trail to the beach. A fitting tune for the events and frame of mind he found himself in. Unfit for continuation of service due to long term mental health issues brought about by a diagnosed condition called Borderline Personality Disorder….. The official documents would probably end up saying something along those lines. Coldly factual.
The sea an ever changing palette of colours thanks to the angry broiling sky above filled with heavy thunder clouds. Bottle blue through shades of green to almost black in patches as the sunlight was blotted out and shade being given its murky head.
Sand being whipped across the beach creating trails of swirling particles lifting into the air. Most people who lived in land would never in the normal course of things be on a beach in weather like this. It didn’t bother Rosie the Jack Russell who was scampering around with that joy only seen in dogs let off the lead and small children. When do we lose that ability for pure joy? Is there an actual day we wake up and it has gone? Or does it slowly creep away and erode within us, not making its absence known till one day we notice it in the face of a child?
This stretch of beach had become his new soul place. The ebbing tides seemed to cathartically purge the darkest of thoughts from his head as if the sea itself drew them out into the vastness beyond. It wasn’t the most popular of beaches along the coast road but it supplied moments like this when he had the stretching entirety of the sands to himself.
Even when you know a massive upheaval in your life is coming from a long way off the actual feelings and emotions which run through you once it arrives can still shock. He had been in that ambulance uniform for over 13 years now. He had been at the birth of his children with that uniform on his back. Had found his Dad dead in it, fallen in and out of love wearing it.
A show reel began rolling through his mind. Brief snapshots in time, not long enough to really hold on to but just enough to provoke solid palpable memories. A lot of laughter, one hell of a lot of laughter. The faces of all those who had been his crew mates over the years. That was a real thing right there…others don’t realise how intimate a job it can be. Sharing 8 or 12 hours at a time with just one crew mate day in and day out. You get to know their back story, their little personality ticks and just about everything about what is going on in their life at the time. As one old timer had told him if you want to get to know a person, really get to know them, do a few weeks’ worth of shifts as their crewmate.
Now that was gone because of the black dog created by his BPD. There were still a few official hoops to jump through but in reality he would never be sat in an ambulance ready to start a shift again.
The rain shower which had been threatening finally broke. The shock of fresh raindrops running down his face shocked Joe back to the here and now. He ran for the shelter of the car calling the dog after him. By the time he got into the car he was soaked but in a strange way he felt more alive than he thought possible.

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