Beauty at the beach.

“Oh, how lovely!” she sighed, breathing deeply, letting the smells of salt and seaweed soothe her lungs. The beauty at the beach she could see was all for her! She stretched out her arms, pale after the winter, and lifted them high as, into the sky she cast her gaze, grateful for the white clouds that scudded overhead. The seagulls screamed as their wings clipped the ocean spray and far over there, interrupting the smudged brown horizon, sandstone hills and cliffs housed nesting colonies of razorbills, gannets, cormorants, puffins, and predatory, snatching, arctic skuas.

From force of habit, she examined the curve of the waves as they came in to crash at the shore, as sinuous as living snakes, as determined as the pulse of a heart. Beneath her feet, where her shoes squelched in the hard, rough sand, the water puddled, forced by her weight to pool in her footprints. And everywhere, beneath the crowded cacophony of birds, waves and wind, there were the musical high-notes of draining sand, pulsing sound from each minute shell and holed-out fragment of rock.

Pulling in her gaze, as she always did after a while gazing, Lizzie bent to examine the shoreline for interesting shells, for shards of colour, for flat spirals of splintering white, or round curled coronets. Here and there her eyes picked out a deeper blue, a flash of bright purple or a slick of purest orange, and automatically, her hand would reach, collect and cradle each find. Soon, she had a collection of about ten specimens, all different shades of pink, yellow, red, brown, orange or blue and purple. Each, she caressed and examined minutely, turning them over in her fingers, brushing out the sand, promising to love and savour them carefully.


Many times, this is what she had done, and she knew, her promises were lies. None of the colour would hold, unless it was trapped in a water-filled glass jar and left to sit on a window sill, ever so slightly in the way, the screwed-down top gathering surface scum. None of that brightness would transport to the ledge in the bathroom, where dust motes would dance, but the collected water would be still. So Lizzie blessed them and let them loose. She threw them high in the air, and watched as each beautiful mote sank beneath the waves.

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