Sunday, 28 September 2014

Seaside Memories

The wind blows softly through my hair, blowing it off my face. I smile to myself. It feels good now it’s grown back. Better than the crew cut of just six months ago. The shingle digs in a little but I jiggle my bottom and it settles into a comfortable hollow. I watch as the sun slowly starts its descent towards the horizon.

The salt air tingles on my lips and the fresh sea air fills my nostrils. No dank smelling seaweed here. Each day the sea rushes in and cleanses the shingle beach.

Children call out in the distance but I sit too far away from the sandy strip and the amusements for them to be a bother.

How many times have I sat here like this? Watching the sea. The ebb and flow. Watching the windsurfers, the paddle boarders and further out the jet skiers. On the horizon a ship steams along. I assume a cargo ship bound for the Americas; I am too far down the coast for it to be a cross channel ferry.

I remember the last time we were here. You pushed me up the ramp, struggled, and gasped for air. But you persevered and got me to the sea wall. I was losing weight but the NHS don’t lend out modern light weight wheelchairs. You wrapped an old tartan blanket around my legs and tucked me in tight. The next thing I remember was you beside me, panting and dripping ice cream on my arm. You had run all the way to the stand and back. We sat watching the sea, eating our ice creams. The wind whipping round and clouds racing overhead. Winter by the sea, my favourite time.

And now I am back. I beat it. I fought it. We fought it. I couldn’t have done it without you. Always there to hold my hand, to make me feel better.

Why couldn’t I do the same for you? Why did you get a chance to fight? Were you too tired after my fight? Did you lose concentration or was it the other guy? They never said. I never asked.

And so now I sit here. Alone. Watching the sea.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Big Day

Brittany couldn’t believe that today had finally arrived. She had been waiting for this day for so long that she was struggling to breathe. She lay perfectly still looking up at the ceiling. Dawn was starting to break through the curtains and she could see shadows from the pattern on her curtains dancing around. She watched the dancing patterns trying to calm her nerves. She took three deep breaths and slowly pushed herself out of bed.

‘Breakfast,’ came a shout from downstairs.

‘Coming,’ called Brittany screwing up her nose in disappointment. She had been hoping to have a final look at the dress. Feel the material flow between her fingers, breathe in the clean, new smell of the silk, but now it would have to wait.

Brittany rushed into the kitchen just as if today was the same as any other day.

‘Hello sweetheart, and how are we this morning?’

‘Fine thank you Daddy. You’re up early.’

‘Big day today.’

‘What, sorry.’ Brittany stared at her father, he couldn’t know, surely he couldn’t know. It was going to be a surprise for him when he got home from work.

‘First day of my new job. You remember I explained all this to you yesterday.’

‘Of course. Sorry.’ Brittany smiled at her father and started tucking into her breakfast. She needed to be careful or he would spot there was something wrong.

After breakfast Brittany headed back to her room and dressed in her normal outfit. She would have to sneak back later after her dad had left for the day.

Ten minutes later, dressed and with her bag slung over her shoulder she started to head out of the   house.

‘See you later Daddy.’

‘Hey hold up. I’ll give you a lift.’

‘No its okay daddy. I’ll get the bus.’

‘Come on sweetie. I’d like the company.’



‘Come on then or I’ll be late.’

Brittany’s dad grabbed his bag and raced after her and she stomped towards the car.


Brittany couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the morning. She was distracted and once or twice she had to be nudged back to the present day by Mary who sat next to her. She kept checking her watch and after what seemed like ages it was finally lunch time.

‘Coming for lunch?’ Mary asked as they packed up their desks.

‘I’ll meet you there.’ Brittany said as she grabbed her bag and rushed towards the exit.



Brittany’s dad patted down the many pocket on his new hi-vis jacket trying to remember which one his phone was in. He grabbed it and swiped his finger across the screen.


‘Hello, is that Mr Jones?’


‘Mr Jones this is Mrs Baker. I am calling about Brittany.’

‘Yes. Is there a problem?’

‘Hopefully not. She was fine this morning but she went home at lunch and she hasn’t come back.’

‘She went home at lunch?’ Mr Jones said. ‘But she was supposed to say with you today.’

‘She normally goes home so no one thought anything of it. I’m sure she’s fine but I just wanted to let you know.’

‘Thank you. I will go and check it out.’

Mr Jones popped his phone back into his pocket and headed off to the site office. This was not looking good, first day on the job and he was going to have to leave to track down Brittany. They were going to need to have a serious chat once he got home.


Mr Jones ran up the drive and pushed the front door open.

‘Brittany. Brittany. Are you here?’ he shouted.

There was no response but Mr Jones thought he could hear something. He strained and tilted his ear towards the stairs. There was definitely some noise coming from upstairs.

He started up the stairs and then for some reason started to creep. He carefully stepped over the squeaky step, listening, trying to work out what the noise was.

He slowly pushed open the door to Brittany’s bedroom. Everything looked different. The bed was pushed against the wall and there were rows of seats set out. All Brittany’s toys were sitting in the chairs and Brittany was walking slowly down the central isle. At the top of the room was her favourite bear and there was a strip of white paper around his throat and a black blanket wrapped around him. The music was blaring out of her Barbie stereo. It was the wedding march.

‘Brittany what are you doing?’

Brittany shot in the air. She hadn’t heard her father enter the room.

‘Daddy. I thought you were at work.’

‘The school rang. They said you didn’t go back after lunch. What are you doing?’

‘I am getting married. Do you like my dress?’ Brittany swung round, flaring out her skirt. She was wearing her best princess dress.

‘Sweetheart you can’t play dress up when you are supposed to be at school.’ Mr Jones knelt down so he was at Brittany’s level.

‘But I had to do it soon. It was for you.’

‘For me? Why?’

‘The man. The one who came and asked for Mrs Jones last week. He made you sad because there was no Mrs Jones.’

‘Only because I miss your mum.’

‘I know. So I asked God what to do and he said I could be Mrs Jones. Mummy is an angel now so it’s my turn to be in charge. That way when the man comes you can tell him I’m Mrs Jones.’

‘Oh sweetheart.’ Mr Jones started to cry. He grabbed hold of Brittany and hugged her close.

‘I’m sorry I made you cry. I thought it would help.’

‘No sweetie. What would help is for you to go to school and not run off in the middle of the day.’

‘But you need a Mrs Jones.’

‘No sweetie. What I need is you. Your mummy is looking down on us and we can ask her when we need help. I love you so much but we can do this together.’

‘Okay Daddy. But if you need a Mrs Jones let me know. Teddy likes his vicar outfit so he can marry me if you need him to.’

‘Oh Brittany. I love you so much.’ He held her tight careful not to get his tears on her best princess dress.

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