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After sharing a bit from my care home story the other week, I thought I would also post a snippet from a dramatic story I wrote about a woman who avoided going to the seaside because of a tragic event. In this short story she faced up to her fears and took her son for a day out by the sea.
If you want to read more of this story and others, check out my collection of emotional stories – Short Dates.
The weather seemed great this morning! Jack scurried around in a whirlwind of excitement, knocking things over with his toy sword as he pretended he was a pirate. Kate scooped everything together and pinned a sun hat to his head before leading him out of the door and up the driveway. The boot crashed closed and after strapping him into the child seat she adjusted the mirror, secretly checking her make up. She was as ready as she ever could be. This day out was sure to test her. Whatever came her way, she was not prepared to let her emotions spoil his first trip to the seaside.
She checked her texts and her mum had wished them a good day out whilst reminding her to fetch some suntan lotion. She nipped back to collect some from the bathroom before finally setting out down her street and off into the sunny countryside that surrounded her. It was a beautiful day. Birds swept overhead, chirruping. Car bonnets shimmered brightly in the morning rays of sun which urged her to switch the air conditioning on. Jack was keen to listen to some of his favourite music. Unfortunately for Kate it meant trashy kids’ songs all the way to Hunstanton. The word Hunstanton resonated with Kate uncomfortably. Her hairs seemed to be standing on end at the very thought of the Norfolk town.
Jack asked her lots of questions about the sea.
‘Why is it there, mummy?’
‘How big is it?’
‘Is there a plug hole to let the water out if it gets too full?’
She had a lack of answers and so made some up to appease him, hoping she would not get found out as a fraud who knew nothing about the sea. Well, she did not like to think about it. There had been a time that she had visited the beach a lot. But even in those days, she had always been in awe of the ocean.
Stopping at a service station, the two of them bought some sweets to nibble on for the rest of the way there. Jack was in high spirits but Kate was nervous. A shiver went down her spine as she saw a few seaside postcards lurking by the pay desk. She gathered what she had bought and chucked them into the back seat. Her head was spinning. Perhaps they could find a kid’s play zone instead. No. She must carry on. Deep breaths. Those postcards had got to her. Jack soon distracted her.
‘Mum, how long until we get there?’
‘Not long. Maybe twenty minutes.’
‘Can we buy a bucket and spade?’
‘Yeah of course.’
Kate wished that all of her problems were as easy as that to solve. The things that she longed for most could not be bought in a paraphernalia shop. ‘Keep going,’ she thought.
As the town approached in the distance, Jack got excited as he could see the sea stretching out before him. She pointed out that the sea air was fresh and told him to take deep breaths. He opened his passenger window and the breeze sent that salty yet brilliant fragrance wafting into the car. She enjoyed that feeling as it was immersed in memories. Quickly her mind drifted to an evening on that beach when they had had a barbecue and were dancing around a fire, happy as two people ever could be. He had been telling sea related jokes and she was laughing endlessly at his puns about sea fish. What do you do with sea fish? ‘I see fish and eat it,’ he had quipped. For a moment her shoulders relaxed and she began to forget her worries. Then starkly, as they came close to the seaside car park – a sign tossed her right back to the present. £3 for an hour! It used to be practically free to park in that exact same car park. She was disgusted but drove in anyway. When Jack left the car he ran over to the fence and peered at the fairground in front of them.
‘Let’s start there mum!’ he yelled enthusiastically.
Kate smiled and nodded and paid for her parking ticket. Then she grabbed his hand and led him towards that fairground, very old fashioned in look and quite dated generally. The bumper cars seemed a distant relation of the modern souped-up versions you often found at theme parks. They looked as though they had suffered one too many bumps and that was just on the outside. She knew he would want her to go on with him. It was always his favourite ride.
She wondered whether she was taking her life into her hands but part of her was again distracted by her past. She flung back to an afternoon when she and her friends had been drinking and had decided to hang around that same fair and check out the guys. One of her friends had been seeing a hot guy from the fairground and had suggested that Kate might try her luck there and end her six months of single. Kate had gone reluctantly but once they had had a few bashes with those bumper cars and the dizziness had mixed with the alcohol to cause a dangerous tonic of being tipsy and having an inability to stop laughing at anything and everything, she cheered up no end. The girls had been on the shooting gallery and were desperate to hit the target and gain a cuddly toy. A gentle voice had offered to take her shot for her. He had moved in behind her and held her arm against the rifle as he took aim. He had steadied her and redirected the gun before letting rip and hitting that target right and centre. That had been the first time that she had met him.
Thank you for reading an extract from my book of short stories. If you enjoy reading about books and the environment, perhaps consider following my blog.