Daydream

Jetty, Beach, Sunset, Sea, Ocean, Sky, Vacation, Water

The only thing she wanted to do was escape. Looking out of the window whilst taking a break from cleaning, she sighed deeply into the broom handle. She couldn’t see anything other then the built up street from this angle.

She shut her eyes and imaged a beach some where and a boat jetty with a little house like building on the end. She thought about the sound of the sea lapping on the too golden sand and the cries of birds in the sunset sky above.  The smell of salty air and warm summers drifting around on breezes that also soaked into your skin.

She felt the sand between her toes, saw the glitter of shells half buried and found a child’s abandoned castle. She let the small waves kiss her feet then walked along, trailing water from her floor touching skirts without a care in the world. She headed towards the welcoming lights from the jetty house, feeling a mix of damp sand and wood now under her feet.

She reached the door and pushed it open….

The sound of a car horn jerked her back and the broom almost dropped from her hands. Fumbling with it, she caught and looked out of the netted windows. It only seemed to be a neighbor parking up. Pulling a face, she got back to work her daydream fading once more.

Autumn Get Away

Sitting on the golden beach, coconut shell cocktail in hand, I relaxed and decided to no longer regret spending the last of my divorce money on this island holiday. I sipped my too sweet, ice chilled drink and listened to the sea waves hitting the shore in the distance. What I wanted more than ever was to pretended I was completely alone right now, but the other tourists were making that impossible.

I sighed as once again I heard an argument coming from the bar area. Turning and nudging down my sunglasses, I looked over and saw a young couple at the dried grass roofed wooden bar. I couldn’t quite make out what had happened, but the fast hand gestures and aggressive body language of the man drew me in.

Sipping more of my drink, I kept an eye on them. Until, disgruntled the man give up and stalked off along the beach with the woman shouting at him to come back. Putting my sunglass back up, I used them to hide behind as I check out the rest of the beach. Ten feet to my right were a forty-something couple with a two year old boy. Before they had been building sandcastles and smothering each other in sun cream, but now they were all sleeping in the mid-afternoon heat. Beyond them the beach ran on before turning a graceful sweep and disappeared behind the tall coconut palms.

To my left, a handful more tourists in their too bright and short clothes lay or sat on the sand. A brave few had set off to towards the sea, their footprints trailing behind them. Three people were clustered around the shade of the bar as if it was a life raft and four others, like myself were sat on the beach’s edge in white lounges.

Taking a longer drink through the twin straws, I placed my coconut shell down on the little side table and thought about taking a nap too. However, my mind was much to awake, despite the heat. I pulled the trashy chick-lit novel from my wicker bag and began reading it. A few pages later, my eyes became distracted by a tall man arriving at the bar. I peered over my book at him, finding his dark brown curly hair familiar and drawn by his long arms.

He got a drink in a green coconut shell then went to a lounge close to mine. As he folded his legs and arms over, my memory sparked up. He was my high school history teacher, Mr. Ford. What was he doing here?

I shoved my book back into my face and felt a childlike panic borrowing inside of me. My thoughts reeled; was it really him? How can it be? What’s he doing here? Term has started already. Okay, okay. It’s not him, just some who looks like him. Just get back to reading and chilling.

I coughed then took a few sips of my drink and got back to my book. My noise and movements had drawn his eyes and I knew without even looking that he was staring at me. I waited, expecting any moment he would look away then I could peek at him again. Finally, when I give in and flashed my eyes to him, he was still staring. I concentrated hard on my book, but the words had blurred before me and I’d forgotten why the main male character no longer wanted to be with his girlfriend. I risked another look; our eyes met and held each other’s.

Yes, there was no doubting it. It was Mr Ford. I’d know that slightly curling grin of his and sooth baby face anywhere. He looked a bit older and I recalled working out the age gap between us once, I think it had come to around ten years. He had been fresh out of university and told us that we should always aim higher. Then he’d rambled on about the Second World War or the Cold War and we’d stare blankly at him.

I smiled at him and turned back to my book, but instead of reading, I fantasist meeting him later on and sneaking into his hotel bedroom. Just as I got the courage up to ask him if he wanted a drink, he got up and left. I put my book into my lap and watched him carry his drink back to the bar. He abandoned it on the side with a glare from the bar man, and continued along the beach.

Maybe it really wasn’t him?

I dropped my shoulders and grabbed my coconut. In a few mouthfuls, I had finished it, leaving only the sediment and sticky bits. I gathered my stuff and went back to my hotel room, my thoughts still fantasising that I’d bump into him again and we’d have a holiday romance.

By the time I got on the plane to go home, I still hadn’t seen him again.

On the Move

We had been walking for months, but it felt like years. We had left the war zones behind us, with our shattered lives buried in shallow graves. We had crossed the Great No Man’s Land and seen the last of the ancient metal cities being swallowed by nature. Now, we were shuffling through closed door towns, begging to anyone who would listen. Far too often we were turned away with nothing and forced on; clinging to what fading hope we had left.

Just outside a village, we set up camp in a bare field. Exhausted, many people just lay on the ground, but a few built a small fire and put up broken tents. I settled down in my tent for the night, curling up under my half of the open sleeping bag. Dis had the other half. He was my younger brother and slept like a baby through the nights, no matter where we were.

Next to him, lay three other small children. We were not related to them, but now like the rest of the people we travelled with, were connected too. Their parents and families had died and /or abandoned them, just like ours had done. The adults here had decided not to leave them to that fate. Plus, children were good leverage.

Outside the hot sand rasped against the tent and some animals howled in the distance. I could taste the sand and feel it against my skin. I tongued the sores at my mouth and shut my eyes, dreaming of clean water erupting from a broken pipe back home. I can’t remember when that had happened. Had Dis been there? Maybe not, but my parents had. Children and adults had crowed the street and we had laughed and danced. The sun had shone through the water and it was like magic.

I felt myself drifting and I let sleep take me. Tomorrow, we’d walk on. Heading further across the burnt earth, looking for a new place to call home.

The Ocean Floor

As the sand settle, I could finally see the giant silhouette in front of me. It looked like the statue of a woolly mammoth, though I could’ve been wrong. My feet hit the sand and I felt the heavy vibrations all the way through the metal boots, my too big suit and my iron diving helmet. My harsh breathing echoed in my ears and I took a moment to establish myself.

Around me the other six divers, who were kitted out just like myself, were also landing on the sand floor. Puffy clouds spread out and rose from their grey boots and the ocean current carried them away. Small dull fish swim above our heads, searching through the disturbed sand partials. I watched two of the large fish swallowing something green down and shooting it out again.

‘Liberty? Can you hear me? I am I coming in clear?’ a voice in my head asked.

Startled, I twisted around and almost fell over. A strong hand caught my shoulder holding me straight. Through the diving helmet, I could make out my father’s concerned face. I calmed my breathing and replied via my helmet mic, ‘Yes. I can hear you fine, Da.’

‘Good. You can get a little closer, but remember to stay out of the way.’

I nodded, before quickly replying, ‘Understood.’

I saw him patting my shoulder, but I didn’t feel it. Then he was walking away and joining the other men as they went passed the mammoth statue and to the collapsing building. Looking passed it and to the sides, I could see more buildings, some of which had once been skyscrapers. The pressure of the ocean had got to most of the weaker structures, creating gapping doorways of twisted metal and fallen bricks. I couldn’t see that clearly through the glass porthole in front of me, but I got the sense that there was something huge off to the side of the mammoth.

I walked forward, struggling through the fast current and the drag my air hose. My boots kicked up more sand, broken shells and small debris. My too big suit was also adding to this as the water tugged the loose folds backwards. I came under the statue and had to look up in awe. It was so tall and seemed to be reaching right out of the ocean. I wondered how someone had built it, let alone come up with the idea for it.

I reached out a thick gloved hand and touched some of the luminous sea moss that had grown on the front leg. My fingers disturbed some of the spores and they drifted away. I wished I could really feel it. I sighed and heard a crackling over the transmitter.

‘Liberty, stay away from the shipwreck,’ my Da’s voice hissed into my head.

‘What? I’m at the statue,’ I responded back.

A crackling and buzzing answered me back.

I let my fingers drop from the statue and plodded around it. I couldn’t really see anyone, but their air hoses were still there. They hung down through the dark bluey-green water like spider’s web lines, only they were a lot thicker. I walked on and thought I saw a diver’s boot sticking out from an actually doorway. I stopped, my transmitter cleared up.

The men’s voices filled my ears and I listened to them finding things and deciding what to take back to the surfaces. I took a few deep breaths then turned to the looming shape to my right. Directly behind the mammoth statue were the red iron reminds of a shipwreck. My breath stuck in my throat and fear quaked my knees.

The warship was three times the size of the statue and more menacing. A rusting tank lay on its side, gun turret pointing right at me. Broken metal speared the sand and a fish popped its head out of a hole in the tank’s corner. There were no other words to describe it other than hauntingly eerie. I imaged that once it would have roamed the oceans sending fear into anyone that saw it.

‘Liberty? Where are you?’ my Da’s voice came though once more.

‘Just passed the statue, I’m coming now,’ I called back and began walking.

As I got closer, I could see the large nets and floatable plastic boxes, that had been sent down from the boat. The men were gathering around them and placing things they had found inside. I saw what looked like a wooden box, a silver candle stick and a collection of china tea cups. My dad was standing near the closest one.

Stomping over, I came to join him and looked down at the pearl necklace in his gloved hands. I cupped my own hands together and held them out as he dropped the treasure to me. The pearls were dull, but milky white.

‘Keep them safe,’ Da’s voice whispered to me, ‘a memento of your first deep sea dive.’

‘Thank you,’ I replied back softly.

‘Everyone ready to move out?’ came a loud voice followed by everyone muttering replies.

We attached ourselves to the nets or lines of the floating boxes and were pulled up alongside them. I looked down and watched the sea closing over the lost old world.

Sick

She felt like she had been stranded in a desert for weeks. Her throat was dry and cracked as if she had been eating sand. The craving for water was similar, she imaged, to the cravings of a drug addicted. She thought if she could get a little water everything would go away. She tried to get up, but her head swarmed with the sounds of a sandstorm that had collided with a nest of angry wisps.

She lay back down and licked her dried out lips. She could actually feel the bones of her teeth and lumps of her inside cheeks. The touch left her squirming. Breathing raggedly, she listened to the rain falling outside and the afternoon birds calling. Glad of this, she rested for a few moments then tried to get up again.

The same pains returned. She struggled on, crawling through the desert in search of water. The bathroom was her oasis. Turning the tap, she drank and drank. The water filled her empty stomach and cooled her burning face. The water was sweet and too nice to give up. At last though she turned off the tap and listened to the plug gargling.

She returned back to bed and lay there. Fuzzy grey lines filled her vision and she watched then dance across her eyelids. Her energy was spent and all she could do was tumble back into a restless sleep.

The Dream Island

‘Come find me when you wake up,’ she whispered with a smile playing across her lips.

I didn’t have time dwell on her words as my eyes closed and I feel into a deep sleep. Colours swirled before me, dancing to a song I couldn’t hear.  My breathing steadied and felt my fingers releasing their grip on the soft sheets I was laying on.

Waking in the weak predawn light, I couldn’t recall any of the dreams I had had and it was almost like I’d never had a dream in my whole life. A loud rushing echoed in my ears and I eased myself up, I saw the sea stretching out to the horizon in front of me. Confused, I watched the white crested waves hitting the beach, whilst my fingers clutched at the sand grains.

I felt for my pistol and knife, but found nothing other than the rough shirt and black trousers covering me. I glanced down and saw I was wearing my well-worn leather boots. Boots I had taken off the night before as I’d gotten into bed. I pulled the right foot up and inspected the boot just to double check. It looked too much like my own for it not to be. Letting my foot drop back to the sand, I looked closer around.

The beach looked like any beach this far south, with its golden sand and clear blue sea. There was a scattering of palm trees marking the edges of some kind of jungle. I listened, but heard no call of animals or the wind. Turning back, I watched the sun raising and tried to recall what had happened.

The ship had docked and we had been granted some shore leave. It had been evening time when we had arrived and I had tripped through the small town, still feeling the swaying ship under my feet as my boots tapped on the cobblestones. There had been in an inn. My first taste of real food and beer since we had left the last harbour, the blazing fire on my back. Laughter, old tales and songs filling the air. Women. A soft bed under me, a warm body on top of me, whispering voice in my ear, ‘How do you like it, Captain?’ The pleasures of the night, waves of satisfaction, tiredness and guilt. Pulling the blanket over us and falling asleep. Her leaning into me and whispering, ‘Come find me when you wake up.’

I shake my head and push sand covered fingers through my hair and beard. Licking the inside of my dry mouth and then my cracked lips, I glance around and decide I need to find water. Standing up, I’m shaky and sand falls off me as another wave crashes across the beach. Stumbling, I make it into the shadow of a palm tree and keep going.

Snow and Sand

The beach was deserted as Casey and Bilbo took their normal Sunday walk. A fine snow was falling and Casey paused to watch it landing on the choppy wave tops and the sand. She tucked a loose strand of her brown hair back into her hood and wiped at her somewhat runny nose. Switching her red umbrella to her other hand, she flexed the stiff fingers on her bandaged left hand, A result from a fall on ice a few days ago and tried to pull up the fluffy glove covering it. She had to juggle the umbrella and fight against the sleeve of her caramel coloured parker coat to do so.

Bilbo barked and she looked down at the white West Highland Terrier. He was wrapped up in a warm tartan patterned dog coat and had just dropped a small piece of drift wood at her wellington booted feet. His stumpy tail was wagging madly and his panting pink tongue was covered in sand grains and a sliver of bark.

‘It’s too cold,’ she told him and shivered slightly.

Bilbo barked again and jumped a pace back. He wouldn’t take that as her reason.

‘Just for a few minutes,’ Casey said and switching the umbrella again, picked up the stick.

Even through her gloves, she could feel the roughness of the wood. The sea had yet to make it smooth and she wondered where it had come from. She threw it along the beach, careful to keep the little dog out of the chilly waves. Bilbo shot off, barking like a mad in determined to retrieve the new play thing.

Casey watched him go before glancing around the beach once more. Snow was piled up against the wooden wave breaking fences and the chipped stone wall. She thought it was strange to see snow and sand meeting, but then it happened every year in her seaside town, no matter how much snow they got. She still could see anyone else around and really she didn’t blame people from staying away. In this weather, the sea was always unpredictable and the beach looked highly uninviting.

She walked on, holding the umbrella in both hands and following the light paw prints left by Bilbo. He was now wrestling with the stick, but when he saw her, he darted back to her side, stick in mouth and jumped up, proudly showing her he had won the game. Laughing, Casey took it from him and threw it again. He raced after it, kicking up some sand in his wake and barking again. She watched him tumble on top of the drift wood and a large wave smack into him.

‘Bilbo!’ she cried out and rushed over to the spot he had been in.

The wave rolled back, dragging sand and the little dog with it. Casey dropped the umbrella and let out a scream. From somewhere inside the wave, she thought she head Bilbo yelping. She paused at the frothy edge of another wave and shouted his name again. Everything was yelling at her to step into the sea and searched for her dog, but a slight fear of danger was holding her back. As her eyes searched the now growing waves, she saw a flash Bilbo’s tartan coat.

Calling his name, she hasty walked towards it and saw him struggling in the water. Quickly, she reached out for him as another wave arose and threated them. Bilbo must have known it was her as he renewed his efforts and paddled towards her hand. Casey felt her now wet gloved fingers trying to grab him and finding no hold. Franticly, she tore the gloves off, and scooped Bilbo up. He shook in her arms and licked her face with salty kisses.

The wave broke around her wellies, almost knocking her down and she felt water splashing up her jean covered legs and running down into her long woollen socks. Clutching him tightly, she fought her way out of the sea and up the snow covered sand. Breathing heavily and feeling unable to catch her breath, she fixed her sights on the glowing lit windows of a café on the beach front. Bilbo whimpered and nestled against her.

Casey stumbled up the snow concert ramp, almost falling over, but somehow finding her balance again. She picked up her pace at the top and ran towards the café’s door. Throwing the door opened with her almost frozen fingers she rushed inside and shrieked in a raw voice, ‘My dog almost got swept away! Please, you’ve got to help us!’

The elderly couple behind the counter stared at her then rushed forward. Casey felt the woman tumble Bilbo out of her arms and the man easing Casey into a wooden chair. Suddenly, Casey realised she had been crying, but now because the café was warmer then outside, her tears were falling more freely. She sniffed and tried to compose herself, but couldn’t. Her vision went blurred and her ears seemed to dim all sound. She was aware though of the man quickly walking away, the woman shouting orders, then trying to comfort her and showing her that Bilbo was still alive.

Casey reached out a hand to the dog as she sobbed hard. The woman handed him back, repeatedly telling her that he was okay, ‘a little shocked and exhausted, but he’s okay. See? He’s worrying about you, Dear. It’s okay. You’re all right. Joe? Where are the towels? I’ll get you a cup of tea, Dear. Don’t worry. It’s fine.’

Casey hugged Bilbo and buried her face into his wet and sandy fur as he tried to lick her. The woman had removed his coat and now came back with a towel, which she tried to wrap him in.

‘You should take off your coat,’ the woman spoke, ‘here, have this towel. Joe? Can you bring the tea over?’

Casey did as asked and let her coat fall against the chair. She took up the towel and pressed it to her face and hair. Breathing deeply, she tried to calm herself, but found that panic and fear where still racing around her body. She heard Bilbo yapping and dropped the towel to her lap. The woman was on the floor, scrubbing him dry and the little dog looked over joyed. He turned his face up to Casey, his tongue lolling about, his eyes bright black and his eyes pricked up.

‘There, Dear,’ the woman said to him, picking another towel to wrapped him up in before placing him on Casey’s lap.

The man put a cup of tea beside her elbow and Casey bust into apologies and thanks. The couple waved it all away and encouraged her to drink her tea. With shaking hands, she picked up the cup and took a sip. Bilbo nuzzled into her, pressing his wet nose against her and making soft noises.

‘No more beach for us until spring,’ she told him.

Bilbo barked and Casey placed the cup back down, hugging him tightly.

Ocean

A full week before she drowned, she had been plagued by the smell of the ocean. It had seemed to fill every room of the house and trail after her when she went out. The saltiness clung to her tongue making everything taste bitter and sandy. To make matter worse, she begin to find seaweed, driftwood and sand grains everywhere. No amount of cleaning and washing seemed to get rid of the ocean and she became beside herself. When she told others about it they told her she was going mad or else it was natural for a cottage on the cliffs to be like that. However, she knew something was wrong and that night when she went to bed during the storm, she knew that she should have left.