Thursday, 5 May 2016

Beach Sequence

Here's a short one, a vignette called Beach Seqence. It came from casting about for something and digging up memory of a holiday in Finisterre years and years ago, repurposed here for some basic symbolism. Whether you like it or not depends on how you take your literary symbolism, subtle or blatant. It could be either here. I'm also giving this up here because I want to put something out that shows I don't just do wacky, format-screwing stuff. The picture is a still from this Youtube clip.

Sophie poked her head over the windbreak. 

"How far away is that?"

"Hmm" said Sophie's Dad. He glowered. "Well, the horizon is supposed to be three miles away so..." He put his book down on his belly and had another squint, "a bit less than that." He smiled; his daughter frowned. It was a daft thing to say but, then again, Sophie's Dad said a lot of daft things, it would be pointless pointing it out. That was just the way he was, too late now. "Looks nasty" he puffed. “Let's hope it doesn't come this way, eh?" He gave Sophie his traditional reassuring wink. It hadn't worked for years but still...

Of course it was going to come their way. 'It' was a long, dark body of cloud looming in the distance, far out in the bay. Of course it was headed towards them, it was late afternoon, the land would drawing in cool air from the sea. The Weather Woman had said it would happen, she said it this morning though, of course, the Weather Woman was French. Sophie's parents couldn't speak French. No use... of course. Sophie walked off. Time for one more pointless stroll along the beach.

This was the first holiday where Sophie felt something was up. Something had been up for a while in fact. Time was you went on holiday and on holiday you spent your time on the beach. That's what you did. 'You' meaning Sophie, and her two older brothers, would pester Mum and Dad to play, build sandcastles, go rock-pooling and so on. All they ever wanted to do was sit and read or lie down, close their eyes and zone out. The answer was always to threaten to do something stupid like jump off a rock, kick a jellyfish or adopt a crab. Sophie didn't want to do any of that any more. Her brothers hadn't done any of that for a while. One was off snorkeling. The other was off practicing his French, if you knew what he meant... They weren't children anymore.

It had never occurred to Sophie before but what was the meaning of the beach? Had anyone even asked that question before? Perhaps not but, as far as Sophie could see it was a lot of bodies, mostly prone, in irregular intervals, half-naked and poaching in the heat. Looking at it all she felt ill at ease, vulnerable. Her Mum loved sunbathing, splayed out across the sun bed she'd hired, utterly comfortable, perhaps even asleep under her shades. It was like she was born to it, her natural state. She looked like her Mum, Sophie, everybody told her so. She had Mum's eyes, her nose, her smile. Would she ever be like her though?

That said the storm was coming. It would all be over, the patient hours of doing not very much. Ten minutes after the cloud appeared the waves started to get up, frothing and building. There was a breath of wind and a hint of thunder. 

Sophie wandered back to where her parents were. "I think it's time we packed up" said Sophie's Dad. "Can you get your brothers?" he asked. Sophie did so and soon her family began collecting cricket bats, shaking down rugs and gobbling sandwich remains. Just as Sophie's Mum took down the wind break the first solid gust struck. 

Sophie took one more look at the beach and the sky before heading back to the car with the rest of them. The front was now a tower of roiling darkness, awesome in its power and scope. She could see rain already falling out in the bay. Sophie smiled. Not long now, she thought. 

Just as her Dad closed the last car door a passionate blast of wind whipped up the beach with a livid roar, casting sand everywhere. Sophie felt safe and happy, secure in the family car. The wind blew hard for a minute or so then subsided slightly. Then the rain began to fall.

"What is that?" Sophie gasped. 

The raindrops were bright red.

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