I suppose I ought to love the sea much more than I do. I was born in Brighton and so I should be well-used to seascapes.
Oh, I guess I do admire the sea ….the crashing waves during a storm ….the calm, glass-like surface on a glorious summer’s day. The ever-changing ebb and flow. The sand beneath my bare feet …….. The wonderful aroma of ozone …..
But, much as I appreciate its beauty and awesome power ….I confess I am more than a little afraid of it. I have never been a confident swimmer….I detest the water…..my body freezes with fear. However, I realise that, for some, it can be an escape …………………
Here is one of my old stories about such a scenario ………………….
Anna stared at the huge, forbidding face that was peering down at her. The broad shouldered, imposing male figure was waiting, impatiently, for her answer; but she could not speak, she was dumb-struck. She glanced, helplessly around, panic rose in her throat and bile threatened to choke her.
Her chest felt tight, constricted and she struggled to breathe, she felt as though she was going to faint. Anxiety filled her body and she turned on her heels and fled; running as fast as she could, almost hysterical, with a feeling of such foreboding that she scattered all in her path.
Ignoring cries of concern from bystanders, she flew through the open door and out into the golden sunlight of an autumn day. On she ran, gathering up the skirts of her long gown as she sped through the streets and down to the sea. Ah, yes, the sea; the beach; she would find freedom on the shore.
The narrow streets of the little, seaside town were almost deserted. The busy throng of Summer holiday makers did not care for autumnal visits, coming only when the sun was hot and the amusement arcades open. But the unusually warm weather had coaxed out a few people. Retired couples, dog-walkers and the occasional solitary soul drifted along the promenade, taking in the sea air. Anna was oblivious to these startled on-lookers as she ran across the road,
” Marine Drive “, she thought to herself and smiled at the grand name. It was just an ordinary little road that ran alongside the coast, but previous Municipal dignitaries had given it the pretentious identity, in an effort to make the town more “up-market”.
The same, misguided townsfolk, no doubt, who had ordered the rather garish repainting of the band-stand; an attempt to make the town “sexier”; more appealing to a younger, wealthier, generation. Various colours had been tested, but some crazy person had decided on a hideous, lime green, which, over the years had, thankfully, faded to the pale, peeling colour it now wore. Pale and peeling and quite neglected, as the rich clientele had never materialised and the town had remained unremarkable, unexciting and strangely oppressive. A little town, on the edge of the sea, surrounded by precipitous cliffs, that seemed to threaten to fall into the briny waters at any moment.
Anna leaned over the railings and looked down onto the beach, then, glancing nervously behind her to see if she had been followed, she made for the steps, changed her mind and raced down the nearer, handier slope; the slipway for the fishing boats.
The first few yards of the shore was mainly shingle and Anna hurried, unsteadily, past small rock pools that glimmered with the shells of spiral volutes, molluscan seashells and horseshoe crabs. But then the shingle and pebbles gave way to pale, golden sand and here Anna paused and kicked off her shoes. Spreading her arms out wide, she twirled slowly, lifting her face to the sun,
” Oh, how good that feels, “ she sighed and she felt her spirit awake, as though from a deep sleep.
She walked to the water’s edge, where the surf foamed and frothed, feeling the ripples around her ankles. Then, briefly turning round to survey the beach, she watched as a lone, brightly painted, paper kite; it’s tail streaming out like a banner; tugged at it’s string and broke free. No longer fettered and restrained, it floated high up into the clouds, leaving a forlorn child, it’s would-be master, staring, wonderingly after it.
” I will not be captured “, whispered Anna, ” I, too, will be free. I will not be trapped.”
She felt the incoming waves washing over her legs, soaking the hem of her dress; the layers of her skirt billowing out, heavy with water.
Pulling at the tiny pearl buttons on the bodice, Anna discarded the garment and stood, in her silk petticoat, knee deep in the sea. She knew she must flee … find safety … they would be here soon. They would find her; take her back; persuade her ….no, no !
Then she saw it.
From the little cove, out by the headland, it galloped towards her. Faster and faster it came, until she felt it’s breath on her cheek. She raised her arms, closed her eyes and the white horse dipped it’s head. Anna twisted her fingers into the pure white, silky mane and hauled herself onto it’s broad back, she leaned her weary head on it’s neck and whispered,
” You have saved me”.
The puzzled child wandered up to the shore-line and gazed up at his kite as it drifted and glided freely in the blue sky and then he looked quizzically at the ivory wedding dress, floating in and out on the swell of the tide, along with strands of seaweed and one pink rose from a bridal bouquet.
And the white horses crashed and thundered out in the bay ………