I close my eyes and the sunshine is so vivid that it has left a thumbprint on each eyelid. The light dances, twisting red, orange and blue at its edges. I smile slightly, listening to the ocean rush forwards with the excitement of a child. The air smells and tastes of salt. It needs just a dash of vinegar to take me back to the village where I grew up but have not returned since.
I can hear my children playing just a few metres away. Their voices are high pitched, the sound of them competing with the seagulls overhead and the constant murmur of the sea. I listen to spades patted enthusiastically on top of buckets, they are determined to loosen every last grain of sand to create the perfect castle. My husband sits amongst them, I can hear his low, rumbling voice as he chatters to them, relishing in their ideas and make believes. He is digging a seat, some wheels, designing as car in the sand so that they can pretend to drive into the sunset.
I push my feet into the sand, creating a cool dip in the dry, soft grains. My toes dance, the sand like liquid between my toes. The wind picks up the hem of my summer dress and the cheesecloth brushes my legs, hugging me close for a moment. I sigh, my eyes are still closed as I listen to it all.
“What are you smiling for?”
I open my eyes to see my youngest watching me with a wide smile. His head is tipped back slightly, chin raised in that way he has of appraising the adults as though interested in the workings of our expressions.
“I’m just reminiscing.” I say.
He tips his head to one side, his hair glints in the sun, it matches the dark sand at the oceans edge. I want to reach out and ruffle the strands but I know this would not impress him.
“What does that mean?”
“You’ll understand when you’re older.” I say.
He nods once and then races away, jumping full strength into the car made of sand, toes and fingers sprawled as he leaps as though passing over a cavern. He lands in the seat and reaches out for the steering wheel – a spade – twisting it and making revving noises. He thinks he is so grown up as he shouts at other drivers in the make believe road, swerving dramatically round the abandoned rope washed up on the shore, pretending it is a particularly careless fellow driver.
I watch him for a moment, pride swelling in my chest. I look at the others and then tip my head back slightly, closing my eyes to listen to the sea again.
I love visiting the coast and this piece was inspired by South Shields and my yearning for the summer. Spring is on it’s way and I’m looking forward to those summer beach days. I hope you enjoyed reading.