Everyone flocked to the yellow sands and blue waters as the sun blazed in the sky and the air became stifled with heat. Being in the waves cooled people and pets off whilst giving them a break from normal life. Tomorrow, everything would be back to normal as rain arrived once again.
Sitting at the airport, he wondered if the plane to the island would come. Flights were called, people hurried passed. He looked at his ticket, he’d been fooled, the island didn’t have a landing strip!
His number was called, surprised he followed four people outside to a mini bus. They got in but he hesitated, what was going on? Everyone looks so calm. Unsure, he took a seat and the door closed behind him.
They were driven to a lake and he saw a sea plane bobbing on the water.
Britney looked around the beach. It seemed everyone in the world was here and the noise was so loud Britney couldn’t hear the sea! Leaving her husband sleeping and the children learning to surfboard, she found an empty cafe on the promenaded.
The hottest day of the year, everyone crowd to the coast. Beaches full of families all enjoying the English summer.
Voices rose and fell, a constant noise like the sea waves. People cooled off in the sea, napped on the sand or walked the promenade. Dogs were barking as they chases balls and each other. Seagulls called and eyed up the food on offer. Music was playing from the pier; rides of the children and gambling games for the adults.
Under the shelter of the sun umbrella, I watched the scene, marvelling at everything.
Tears blurred my vision. I wiped them away hard and told myself to stop crying. It was too hard to, so I shut my eyes and dragged in some deep breathes.
A strong breeze blew, sweeping the salty smell of the sea and also some spray towards me. The marram grass whipped up and began bruising my ankles and legs, almost as if it as trying to stop me.
I hugged the urn hard and carried on walking. My feet sank into dry sand and kicked up as I walked. Before I reached the lapping waves, I slipped my shoes off. Barefooted, I walked into the sea and felt the cold water rising past my knees.
I give up with wiping the tears away and looked around to make sure I was alone. It was passed 5:30 AM and no one was here on the little beach. This place had been my dog, Teddy’s favourite walk. He had loved jumping into the sea and swimming out to catch a ball. He had enjoyed digging holes and been fascinated by crabs and jellyfish on the beach.
There was a feeling a rightness to set him to rest here.
It didn’t have to be done quickly, but I knew I’d changed my mind otherwise. I unscrewed the lid and tipped the urn slowly. Grey ash rushed out and vanished into the waves. I dropped the lid and the urn then dropped down, the sea came up to my shoulders.
Tears and grief swamped me. I couldn’t move, only stay sitting in the sea with the waves splashing against me.
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.