Sometimes all you need is a theme to get you kick-started on a story or poem. A popular theme is ‘The sea’. Close your eyes and see what comes to mind. Don’t always take the first thing that you think of; let your mind drift and see where it takes you.
My mind took me to a tranquil scene at first and then to a woman whose eyes were full of terror. The peaceful scene began to fade away and here’s where my mind took me…
Sarah screamed. Pain tore through her. She clutched at her stomach. Panic. Fear. Wide-eyed and full of terror, she stared at the violent sea, watching the waves thrashing closer and closer.
She took a deep breath. The pain ebbed away, together with the waves. All was clam once more. She shivered. The memories refused to be banished. She closed her eyes, wishing the images of the stricken child would disappear. She forced her eyes open. The girl had gone.
She watched the waves gently tumble into shore. Her toes tingled as the freezing waters lapped over them. She smiled, longing for an exotic beach and warm waters. The sun pounded down on her bare shoulders. Sweat oozed from her brow, but this was England and the sea remained cold. Subconsciously she patted her bulging stomach, her thoughts returning to the cool waters.
Twenty years ago. Was it really that long? She hadn’t thought she would ever return and yet, here she was. She thought she had forgotten, but she would never forget.
The girl’s hair was dark and tied in bunches. Her huge brown eyes were wide behind long lashes and rosebud lips quivered as the tears splashed onto her pink polka dot swimsuit. Sarah remembered it well. For it had been her fifth birthday.
The day had started so well. It was to be a new beginning. A fresh start, her parents had said. They had lied.
Sarah could remember her excitement, her joy as she had sat in the car, slowly edging nearer and nearer to the delightful salty smell of the sea. The usual bank holiday traffic was of no concern to a little girl and she had almost managed to block out the shouting. Almost.
She recalled her disappointment when they had finally arrived. The weathermen were wrong. The beautiful day they had promised had vanished. The early morning sun had been shrouded behind bulging rain clouds.
Not usually one for tantrums, Sarah had been unable to stop herself. Eventually her parents gave in, allowing her to wear the new swimsuit and to splash in the sea before the rain lashed down.
She had stood, a silent, lone figure on the beach, savouring the feel of the water between her toes. The sea had seemed to call her, beckoning her to enter it, singing to her that it would keep her safe. Her legs carried her onwards, further and further.
She had ignored the screams. She knew they weren’t for her. Her mother and father didn’t care. They wouldn’t be getting a divorce if they cared. Mother had promised they weren’t. She had said they were going to give things another try, but she knew all about divorce. The children at school talked about it all the time.
Suddenly, she hadn’t felt so safe. Fierce rain stung her eyes and the waves gathered their force. The wind whistled and the chilly waters threatened to devour her. The taste had sickened her as the waters poured into her mouth. The smell of seaweed was vile as it wrapped itself around her and the sea tried to claim her as its prize.
Hands had grabbed her, dragging her to safety. She spluttered, choking and screaming for air. It was too late, she was certain. She had blinked, wondering if she were in heaven.
Her breathing eased. She was safe. She had survived. Sarah remembered their arms around her that day. Arms she hadn’t felt for a long time. She had smiled, relishing the feel of their love for her. Mother, father and child. They were a family together once more.
It hadn’t lasted. The divorce had been inevitable.
The cries brought Sarah back to the present. She smiled, almost knocked from her feet as her son and daughter launched themselves into her arms. Her breath caught in her throat. She stared at the man walking towards her. He joined them, his arms strong as they encircled the threesome.
Sarah closed her eyes, feeling his love envelop her. She smiled at her husband and down at her children, her hands coming to rest on her stomach, thankful that heaven had decided to wait.