Richard was obsessed with maritime objects. He turned his house into a museum and charged the tourists, visiting the seaside village, to view his collection. With the extra money, he brought more things and opened a repair workshop.
Finally, Richard ran out of room and decided to open a shop. He found it hard to part with some of his collection but then he saw how happy people were buying the maritime items and that made him pleased.
In his will, Richard left his collection to the village, saying that the maritime museum had to remain open. Tourism in the sleepy seaside area boomed.
They sat on the pebble shore, reflecting on what they had seen in the museum. It had been a shock to see the half section of the Mary Rose which their distant ancestor had sailed upon, looking so well persevered.
The wooden hull of the ship had dripped the protective water being sprayed a upon, making it easier to imagine the Mary Rose riding the sea waves.
They had seen items that their ancestor might have used on board and learned about the life he’d lead. They felt closer to him now then they did before.
On the shore he wandered, lost in his own thoughts. With his head down, he watched the surf lapping at his boots. The sea would be cold, he knew but still he took his boots and socks off. There was just something irresistible about walking barefoot on the beach.
Socks in his pocket, boots in hand, he carried on walking. The sand was cool and the sea cold, but he liked the feeling in between his toes. He let his thoughts go off again, like the seagulls that took flight when he got too close.
The beach was empty at this time in the morning which was how he always liked it. He could be alone without people staring and trying to ask him questions about what happened to his body. Children called him a monster and parents would quickly drag them away.
I was fighting for this country, he wanted to say, a bomb fell on a house, I tried to save the innocent family trapped inside but the fire was too bad.
Unfortunately, he knew it wouldn’t matter. His words couldn’t change the effects of his actions across his skin. However, out here away from it all, nothing cared. The sand and sea couldn’t judge him, he could just be himself, alone with his thoughts and scars.
He stood on the beach alone, leaning on his walking sticks and staring out to sea. For the last few days the remembrance and celebration events had been going on and he had been reunited with some old friends. Still, he couldn’t believe it had been seventy-five years since he had first walked across this beach.
He could picture everything still; first light, the cold rough waves of the sea, first against the boats then against his legs as he struggled forward with his company. The heavy weight of his gun and pack. The bundle of nerves in his stomach and the twisting thoughts of what might lay in wait for him.
The sounds of machine guns and other weapons boomed out from the cliff tops creating a noise so deafening, it had never left his ears. He had only just been able to hear the orders to run forward, to take the beach. The sound of friendly fire was even louder then then enemies’ and so close it made him feel terrified.
The first soldiers got shot. The sea foam turned red and bodies bobbed in the water face down. More fell on the beach and were left behind as their pals ran onwards. Victory must be had! There would be time later to help the dead.
More and more men fell, the sea and sand seeming to be their final resting place. Everything turned red with blood, the cries of the dying and wounded came into competition with the gun noises. Bullets zipped this way and that, zinging through the air till the hit something.
He was no longer thinking, just acting on instinct and that’s why he didn’t really remember things. Everything seemed to blur into one. There was a body, there was a fallen gun, there was the sea behind him and the boats now awaiting them. He had seen so much but no words could ever describe it.
He had been nineteen. Just a boy. A boy who had wanted to do his bit to save his country. Make his parents proud and his sweetheart love him more. His teacher had said he should sign up, become a hero. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
He had never felt like a hero. Not even now.
‘The dead are the heroes!’ he had told one news reporter and he had meant it too.
We are having a lovely time and the hotel is beautiful. Yesterday, we went for a walk on the beach then hired deck chairs to doze the afternoon way in. A seagull stole your father’s ice cream and I laughed so hard I dropped my own!
Tomorrow, if the sea is warmer we might go for a swim, though I hear there are lots of jellyfish about. If I see one of them I’ll be out as fast as I can be!
We’ll be sure to bring you some presents back and no doubt some sand too!
The wooden ship creaked as the ice finally broke away. The crew hung over the sides, eagerly watching the results. They had been trapped in the iceberg for three months now, surviving on half rations and whatever fish and birds they could catch.
The ship seemed to sink a little into the water and the first tiny waves lapped around the bow.
‘Shall we unfurl the sails, Captain?’ the first mate asked.
The Captain, who hadn’t been keen on this exploration trip to the Arctic, nodded.
The crew set to work quickly, finally feeling like they had been saved.
It was the trip of a life time. A world way from what they had always know. The honeymooners, married three days ago and now celebrating. They walked hand in hand, barefoot on the soft sand beach, pointing out that sight or this.
Strange animals filled the air with noise and scampered around as the sea lapped boats and the shore. A warm wind stirred the dry air and rattled the palm trees. Native voices in the distances called as fishermen returned from their morning’s work.
The honeymooners basked in the sun, relaxing. Lost to everyone but each other.
It was time. I walked across the beach, wet with seaweed as the tide was coming in. Bringing my dad’s ashes back here was fitting. We had loved this beach as a family and there was special rock we had all ways sat on.
It was there I dug a deep, deep hole and hide him under the sand. I could have just thrown the ashes into the sea but I couldn’t let go that easily. At least here, I knew where he was.
Patting the sand back into place, I let the tears fall.