A meeting on a lonely beach begins a new life.
|Word count 884
The sound of the impending arrival of a vehicle would have been heard on the windswept beach, if anyone had been there to hear it. The soft sand shifted in the wind, the dunes constantly changed their shape and form. Seaweed, black and slimy, lay strewn over the landscape. The only signs of life in this deserted place were the seabirds hovering over the waves searching for food. Their calls barely discernible above the roar of the surf.
The red truck made its appearance on the horizon. It made its way through the whispering sand, the wide tyres keeping a firm grip, eventually coming to a halt at the bottom of the dunes.
The woman turned off the engine, leaned on the steering wheel and stared out at the waves crashing onto the beach.
Eventually, she stepped from the vehicle and breathed in the salty air before opening the tailgate and setting up her solitary campsite.
She ran down toward the sea, red surfboard tucked under her arm. The black wetsuit clung to her slim frame, her athleticism obvious as she paddled out. Time and time again she caught the enormous waves, happy to go it alone. Independent and in harmony with the environment, she surfed until the last light of the day disappeared. Only then did she emerge from the water, her long ebony hair streaming down her back as she trotted up the beach to her campsite. Peeling off her wetsuit she stood naked, happy in the knowledge she was alone and at the start of her as yet unknown new life. Pulling on her jeans and sweatshirt, she busied herself lighting a campfire and starting a simple supper.
Shades of light crept into the tent; indicating day-break, and the girl relished the thought of the waiting surf. Crawling out of her sleeping bag, she opened the tent flap and smiled, readying herself for another perfect day until she heard a vehicle approaching.
She watched the beach buggy make its way, following the tracks she’d made yesterday. The vehicle closed in on her campsite. She stood unsmiling. The rider pulled off his black helmet, shaking out his long blonde hair. He held out his hand, but she didn’t offer to take it.
“You alone?” He asked.
“Yes, I thought I’d have the place to myself, no one usually comes here.”
“That’s okay, I won’t bother you,” he smiled, holding up his hands. “I’ll camp up near the rocks.” He pointed to a spot a few hundred yards up the beach.
The girl nodded and turned away.
Several days had passed since her unwanted guest’s arrival. They’d barely acknowledged each other, but both were fully aware of being observed. She saw he was in his element as he became part of the wild sea. Maybe this is where he too finds solace when life bites back, she thought.
She sat on a folding beach chair outside her tent, sipping a green tea, watching the boy out in the surf. His athletic body glided across the surface until the waves lost their energy, then he’d turn to paddle out once more. She was pleased he’d got the message she didn’t want or need company. This was her time away from everyone and everything. Her irritation at being disturbed was still under the surface, however, he’d done as he said he would; his campsite was faraway from hers. She could barely see his orange tent and the smoke from his campfire.
She turned again to watch the ocean when she saw his arm waving in the boiling sea. She hesitated. Standing to get a better look, she could see no sign of the boy. Had she imagined him waving? Would he really be asking her to swim out to save him?
She walked down to edge of the water. The sun’s reflection bouncing off the waves made it difficult to see. She waded further in, her eyes hurting from the glare, when she saw it again. Yes, there it was, a raised arm, the universal signal for help.
Diving beneath the incoming surf, she swam out until she saw his pale face. “Shark!” He gasped. Without a second thought, she reached him and towed him back to shore. His body became even heavier as he lost consciousness until at last exhausted she dragged him onto sand. The shark had ripped open his wet suit, blood poured from a gash on his lower leg. She stripped off her tee shirt and made a tourniquet to stop the flow.
Opening his eyes into the blue light of her tent, he felt firm arms holding him and realised he was naked and shivering. She had wrapped them both in her sleeping bag as she attempted to warm his chilled body. “I need to get you to hospital. I’ve stopped the bleeding, but you need medical attention. You’re in shock.” She told him.
He nodded. “Thank you.” He murmured. Her face was only inches from his and she could barely hear him whisper, “hero.”
The red truck slowly climbed the dunes, leaving behind the beach and the ocean. The girl gave a quick glance at the beautiful, pale face of her passenger. She’d come here intending to leave her old life in the renewing waters. Now she was ready to begin again.