Just Be


Looking down at the tarot card in her hand, Moon thought it was too much of a sign. The Queen of Swords was sat upside down in a Gothic style throne and frowning as if she was very disappointed in Moon. The Queen’s long sword pointed upwards in a threatening manner as if it was questioning Moon too.

Setting the card aside on the purple velvet covered circle table, Moon shut her eyes and tried to block everything out. Still though, she could hear the arcade staff setting up for the day, their voices mixing with eager cries of children waiting outside and the sea waves splashing against the wall. She breathed in deeply, focusing on relaxing and opening herself to what the universe was saying.

Letting out a deep sigh, Moon opened her eyes again and looked down. The Queen of Swords was still there. That frown looking deeper then before and the eyes more piercing. Of course, she knew what the card meant. There wasn’t one in the whole deck she did not know. It was just that…She was having an hard time taking in the message.

The sound of the arcade’s doors opening drew her attention. She stood from the small high back chair and took a few steps to the side. Trying to make her skirt and bangles not jangle so much, Moon peeped out from the heavy purple curtains that surrounded her little box and watched people entering. There was only a handful; a few local kids with no where else to go during the summer holidays, grandparents with their grandchild, a tried mother with her trio and two very elderly women.

Moon let the curtain fall back. She was not due to open yet, even though she was desperate for the money but she knew none of those people would come to her. Stepping back and sitting down again, she looked at the Queen of Swords then picked the card up.

‘I shall try to be more myself,’ she whispered, ‘though being less like any female in my family is hard. It’s difficult to find your own path when someone’s already cut it out for you. Looking at all the different angles might help though.’

Moon placed the card back with the others, shuffled the deck and placed them into the small wooden box again. Placing that in her bag and picking it up, she left the tent. The curtains that had been muffling the sounds and smells of the outside world settled behind her and Moon walked away.

Going out of the arcades bright red painted doors, she turned and walked alongside the sea wall. Breathing in the fresh, salty air, she took a few minutes to think deeply about things. The Queen of Swords was firmly fixed in her mind’s eye and Moon could almost hear the Queen’s voice telling her to listen to her inner self.

‘What do I want?’ Moon said aloud without meaning too.

A nearby seagull squawked at her and Moon turned to give the creature a dirty look. The bird took flight, flapping large white and grey wings across the sea’s choppy surface. Moon rested her arms on the wall and looked out. The morning sky seemed full of promises and it was beckoning anyone willing enough to travel towards the horizon a chance to take one of those promises.

How difficult can it be to reach out and take what I want?  Moon thought.

She looked back at the arcade and beyond it the wooden pier. She could just make a few people all ready walking down towards the funfair and the theater at the end. Turning back, Moon watched the waves knocking against the wall. The water seemed to be asking her to let it in and in her mind, Moon let it in.


Postcard #19

Spring, Crocus, Hare, Lamb, Sun, Cherry Blossom, Tulip

To Celia and family.

Hope you are all okay. The farm is in full swing at the moment and we are expecting lots of new arrivals. I’m glad the weather seems to be clearing up too! I hope you’ll be coming over soon, I know how the kids love the lambs and chicks. I’m sorry to hear about Alfie. He was a good dog. Speaking of, Tilly had six puppies last week, so if you fancy a new friend, I’m sure I can keep one for you. Looking forward to your next letter.

Berta. X







There was something interesting in The Sea Shack’s front window. Retired Judge Charles Benedict stopped and looked at the object which the afternoon sun had been reflecting off. It was a large mother of pearl shell mobile. Judge Benedict stroked his grey beard and watched the mobile spinning around. It was nicely made, but in a very home-crafty way and looked like the spoils of a beach comber.

The Judge cast eyes pale blue eyes upwards and saw that the mobile’s top was made of a large knobbly piece of driftwood, with stringy twine wrapped around it. A metal ring and blue ribbon had been placed above the wood to make a hanger and below all the shells were linked together by the attached twine.

Maria would like that, Benedict thought before he began to study the other things in the shop window.

There was a large collection of different sea shells, some of which must have come off foreign beaches and two dried out starfish lying across a blue-green piece of silk cloth. Placed purposely amongst them were a number of things of sale, which the shopkeeper had decided would catch people’s eyes. Two books- one on shipwrecks and the other on pirates, a small vase covered in dried seaweed and limpets. A necklace made of painted shells, a sketch titled A Summer’s Day At the Seaside, a framed postcard, a very old brass diving helmet and a ship in a bottle.

Benedict smiled at this odd collection of things and walked into one of his favourite shops. A bell rang over his head and then again as he helped the door close. His eyes roamed around, taking to take in everything at once, but failing to do so because of the amount of items. The Sea Shack didn’t specialise in anything, instead its theme was the beach and sea.

‘Ah, Judge. It’s nice to see you again,’ an old wispy male voice called from somewhere.

‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘That mobile in your window is interesting.’

‘Oh? It’s not for sale, I’m afraid,’ the same voice answered.

‘I’m sorry to hear that. My Maria would have liked it.’

‘Your granddaughter? Hum.’

From the shadows of a bookcase to his far left, Benedict watched the shop’s owner Mr. Tom Cunningham appear. He had in his slightly shaking hands a dust covered box. He hobbled over to a glass counter top and placed it down with a light thump. Tom looked like the very sea had weathered him. Benedict looked at Tom’s brown wrinkled and drooping skin, before making his way over.

‘Betty made it,’ Tom explained and peered at the Judge over the top of the box, ‘I find it difficult to let the things she makes go nowadays.’

Benedict nodded, ‘how is your wife?’

‘Dying, but she’s not in pain. Our daughters will take the shop over,’ Tom added, ‘and you?’

‘Getting by,’ Benedict replied and shrugged.

‘Is there anything else I can do for you today?’ Tom spoke.

‘I’ll just take a quick look around. See if I can find anything else for her. You know, Maria loves this kind of stuff.’

‘Of course. Feel free. Give me a shout if you need me.’

‘Thanks, Tom,’ Benedict said and turned back to the shop.

Slowly, he weaved his way through bookcases and furniture looking at the objects and sometimes pondering where they had come from. He was about to give up and leave, when he saw the glass bottle. Stepping around a ship’s bell, he picked up the dirty white stubby bottle and felt the sand encrusted glass against his skin. Looking inside it, he saw a rolled up yellowed piece of paper, a tiny puddle of water and some sand. He noticed that the top of the bottle had half a cork lodged inside.

Benedict looked for the price tag and found it on the small wooden stand. Picking it up he read the small handwriting declaring that Message In A Bottle, found at Sunny Cove, Cornwall was ten pounds. Letting go of the tag, he rattled the bottle and decided it would do.

Picking up the stand, he walked back to the counter and placed them back together.

He glanced around but couldn’t see Tom or the dusty box. He tapped his fingers on the counter and looked down at the collection of jewellery inside. Nothing caught his attention. Stroking his beard, he looked for the small bell that normally lived on the counter. Finding it next to the till he rung it and watched Tom appear a few moments later from a back door.

‘I’d like to buy this,’ Benedict called.

Tom came over and inspected the bottle as if he had never seen it before.

Benedict pulled at his wallet and began looking through it, ‘Will you take a five pounds for it?’ he asked.

‘Without the stand?’ Tom questioned.

‘Sure. My granddaughter probably won’t need it.’ Benedict put in.

‘Deal, Judge,’ came the reply and Tom went to the till.

‘Thanks. Can you wrap it for me?’

‘No problem. That’s five pounds then, please.’

Benedict handed over the note and watched Tom put it in the till before digging out some newspaper from a half hidden cupboard.

‘You got any idea if there’s anything written on the paper?’ Benedict asked.

Tom shook his head, ‘we couldn’t get the rest of the cork out. It was like that when we found it. There was a lot more water inside it too, if I remember rightly. I cleaned the bottle up a bit, but I didn’t see anything then.’

‘All right. Thanks.’

Benedict took the wrapped bottle from him and they said their goodbyes. With nothing else to do, the retired Judge wondered back to his house and after sorting himself out, sat in the living room with the glass bottle.

He unwrapped it carefully and looked at the broken cork inside. He could see a few attempts had been made to remove it. Placing the bottle down, he went into the kitchen and picked up a small, shape pointed knife and a nail. Going back, he first tried the nail by gently twisting it into the cork and pulling it up again.

After a few attempts the cork gave way and Benedict tipped the bottle upside down over the table. Some sand grains fell out, then a few drops of water. He rattled the bottle, trying to get the paper to come out. However it seemed stuck. He tried to put his fingers inside to help ease the paper out, but his fingers were too thick.

He placed the cork back in and wondered if Maria would be able to get it out.

It’s probably blank, but I want to make sure, he thought.

Placing the bottle down, he stood up and heard the doorbell ring. Smiling broadly, he went to answer the door and found his youngest daughter and granddaughter waiting for him.

‘Grandpa!’ Maria cried and hugged his legs.

He patted her head, ‘Hello Maria. Natalia.’

‘Hi dad,’ Natalia replied, ‘Now, M by good and I’ll see you at five.’

Maria nodded, waved goodbye and stepped inside as the adults briefly spoke before saying their own goodbyes.

‘Did you get me anything today, Grandpa?’ she called as he shut the door.

‘Maybe,’ he answered back.

‘What is it?’ the six year old demanded and stomped into the living room.

Benedict followed her and picked up the bottle before she could, ‘it’s a message in a bottle,’ he explained.

Maria clapped her hands and took it from him, ‘what’s inside?’ she squealed as she heard the rattling.

‘A piece of paper. Maybe with a message on it. Shall we try and get it out?’ he suggested.

‘Yes! Yes!’ the little girl cried.

Benedict eased the cork out again and showed Maria how to try and grasp the edge of the paper to tease it out. It took a few tries, but soon enough the rolled up paper slide out. Leaving Maria hugging the bottle, Benedict smoothed out the paper and looked at both sides. It was blank or if there had ever been any message had long been washed away by the sea.

The Judge sat back, feeling disappointed after all the build-up, ‘it’s blank,’ he told his granddaughter, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘It’s okay, Grandpa. Maybe we could write a message on it?’

‘Yes. Let’s do that. Here’s a pen,’ Benedict responded quickly, pulling out an biro out from a crossword book, ‘what shall we put?’

Maria shrugged her shoulders and looked down the bottle’s neck.

‘How about, have a wonderful life?’ Benedict asked.

Maria hummed and nodded.

Benedict scrawled the words across the paper then re-rolled it tightly. He slotted it back into the bottle and re-corked it. He gave the bottle back to Maria, who stared curiously inside at the paper.

‘Why is it in there?’ she asked.

Benedict pulled her into his lap, ‘You want to hear the story?’

‘Is about pirates?’ Maria pressed.

The Judge laughed, ‘Yes. It can be. Are you ready?’

Maria nodded and hugged the bottle as her grandpa launched into his story.


I opened the book and a sheet of notepaper fell out. I picked it up, believing it to be someone’s bookmark. Turning it over, I saw capital letters printed out to form the sentence; You’re amazing, so don’t ever doubt yourself, and try be thankful every day. Love & live.