The first breath of fresh sea air after lockdown
|The air is thick with the scent of the sea, of salt and of the seaweed stranded by the tide to wilt on the rocks. It goes straight to the back of her nose, hitting her throat, setting off a chain reaction of memories that bring happiness and contentment to her like a warm blanket.
"Better?" he asks, as she closes her eyes and breathes in deep.
"A million times better, already." She opens her eyes and turns to him, smiles at the way his long dark hair dances in the breeze like the waves. He grins, smugly satisfied, after telling her for the last year of isolation that they would be here again one day.
She steps carefully onto the rocky beach, picking her path on the bigger rocks where breathes eyes and there was no choice but to pick out the flat edges, to climb with great care and attention. Every now and then she would glance behind to check that he followed safely. She waits when he stops on a large flat rock to light a cigarette, his back turned to the wind. After futile clicks of the clipper he finds success and a cloud of smoke runs back the way they had came.
The boulders give way to smaller rocks and pebbles as they edge closer to the water. She keeps her gaze down for perfect stones and shells, a childish collection she has never outgrown. It is just them and the gulls. She shivers as the wind sneaks down the collar of her jacket. Typical of an Irish summer, warm and beautiful in the sunshine but with a wind that would freeze your bones.
She spots a perfect rock and bends to pick it up, closeness to the ground bringing a fresh wave of salty seaweed scent. The rock is just smaller than her palm, oval and thin. It is á dark storm grey striped with white. She turns it over and back. It is satisfyingly smooth, free of chips and cracks, it hums with the energy of the sea, earth. She feels the vibration from her palm to her heart, in her soul. Months of disconnect and fear are healed by the gentle lapping of the ocean, in all this time it has waited here ever constant. The scars of the past year feel faded and soft.
He comes up behind her places a hand in hers as she rises. She survived, and the ocean waited for her.