My second tale of rebirth for J.A.Mes Press Rebirth Anthology. All proceeds will go to a UK Stroke Charity.
Author: Lisa Shambrook
Alice went to the beach with one intention.
Not to return.
Her heart thudded painfully, constricting inside her chest, as she walked. She pulled at her soft cotton cardigan sleeve, tugging threads, watching as the slight strands drifted away on the breeze. She sniffed, remembering his scowl, and hurriedly wiped away tears as she approached the dune. She stood atop the shifting sands, amid tall wiry grass, and stared at the sea for a moment letting the breeze lift her hair from her face.
She dropped to her knee and untied her trainers, kicking them off and leaving them behind, just as he’d done to her. She stepped forward, barefoot. Her toes wriggled as hot sand trickled through them, raising a momentary smile, but her vision blurred again as her bottom lip trembled, her tiny cry of despair drowned by the cackling seagulls down by the shore.
The breeze picked up, as did her pace, wafting her skirts around her legs, the gossamer material fluttering like butterflies against her skin. She stopped and hugged her arms to her chest shivering despite the heat of the late sun. Her shoulders shuddered as silent sobs built, rising in her throat, fighting for release, but she pushed them down and tilted her head. The sun’s rays kissed her closed eyelids and dried the tracks of her tears. Alice opened her eyes, lowering her face, gazing across the empty beach. Miles of sand stretched either side of her and her arms dropped to her side.
Her cotton dress floated about her as she shrugged out of her cardigan and let it fall to the sand at her feet. The breeze rolled across her bare shoulders and the material rippled across her breast and stomach. She instinctively brushed her dress down, her fingers lightly smoothing over her chest and lingering at her belly.
The ocean rolled in, wave after wave, never ending, and she tightened her resolve with a deep sigh.
She stumbled towards the shore kicking up clouds of sand that swept across the beach behind her. Her legs, now heavy and awkward, propelled her on across the tide line, across the mounds of wet seaweed, and the sand firmed beneath her toes. She jogged, her feet slapping the glaze of water, wet sand splashing up her legs and tears welling again behind red eyes. The waves ebbed and flowed, the gentle rhythm matching the leaden beat of her heart, as she waded into the sea.
She stopped again, the water lapping at her ankles and closed her eyes, allowing the gentle gusts of wind to caress her face, one last pleasantry, and she tried to calm her hammering heart. She braced, inhaling the ocean air, tasting the salt tracing her lips. She listened to her grief, to her despair and stepped forward.
A squeal of delight startled her and her eyes fluttered open as a young girl raced past, plunging into the water. The girl ran, giggling as she leaped over waves. The girl hitched up her shorts, already splash darkened, and stopped.
Knee-deep, Alice watched as the small girl in the orange shirt threw out her arms with abandon and turned her face towards the glorious evening sun, enjoying the simple delight of waves dancing around her legs, wind on her arms and the warmth of the sun on her face.
Alice felt tears spill as she backed out of the water. Her heart hammered and knots of tension loosed. Goosebumps erupted from head to toe and she sank to the wet sand, her hands trembling as the surf gently embraced her. She watched the blur of orange and denim and newfound innocence engulfed her. Her eyes shone as a slow smile curved and shaky laughter rippled from her lips, and her fingers trailed, tenderly, across her newly rounded stomach.