Where I wish I could be

The Beach

There are places I’d much rather be than in my flat during a pandemic and the only way I can visit them right now is in my imagination.

The sand squelched between my toes and a shallow pool of water rose sluggishly over my feet as a small wave drew closer. Eventually it lapped gently at my ankles before being pulled to join the rest of the sea, raking the sand in its wake. A small crab came in on the second wave, tumbling across the sand until the force of the water weakened and it could stand. I imagined it blinking and looking around half dazed before it scuttled back into the water.

My feet had almost disapeared by the fourth wave and by the sixth, my ankles were halfway under the sand. I took a long breath in, wiggling my feet to bury them deeper and with the exhale I looked out in front of me. A small island that was once part of the mainland jutted from the waves. It was no more than a pile of rocks waiting be to broken apart by the sea. Waves slapped at it relentlessly and dissolved into angry froth that shot metres into the air with every hit. One more storm and the rocks would be gone.

Behind the rocks was the horizon. It was no more than a line between the hazy sky and the cobolt blue of the ocean. Today it was a hard line, a difinitive end to the sea as if there was nothing but a large waterfall beyond, falling into space or a secret world that we wold never reach.

The wind gusted around me, buffeting my body back any fourth, trying to tear me out of the sand and send me spiralling into the sky. I turned my gaze to the sky. What would it be like to fly like the seagulls that spiralled above me? Hanging in the air like a kite with no string, they seemed to have no cares while the wind carried them back and fourth, covering miles of land.

The stones and shells in my pockets weighed me down against the pull of the wind. I pulled one out and peered at the startk white quartz protruding from a mottled grey surface. As a child I had imagined the quartz was diamonds and that I had found a source of them unknown to anyone, filling my bucket with as many as my tiny arms had the strength to carry. Those rocks were forgotten in favour of new ones found on new beaches and so on until the one that was in my hand took centre stage.

I put the stone back in my damp pocket and took out a shell. The point twisted down and round in a helter skelter for tiny organisms, opening out and inviting me to listen to the sea that crashed inside. I closed my eyes and breathed in the damp saltiness and old seaweed whipped up by the wind.

A cloud covered the sun and I realised my feet had become numb with cold. Replacing the shell in my pocket, I heaved my feet from their waterlogged restraints and plodded up the beach to my shoes. Before I reached them, I turned to look back for a moment, holding whispy strands of hair from my eyes to take in the scene one last time. Dogs chasing waves and sticks and balls. Children chasing dogs and birds. Adults chasing children into the waves. Waves chasing people away from their frothy jaws. I was chasing nothing but the dream of staying there forever.

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