Daughter of the sea

My mother once told me that I took my first steps into the sea – into the sea and away from her.

Today the sea is silver and blue. I photograph it before it rains and turns the mint green of a sweet I remember from childhood. Waves slide over the sand and are sucked back, leaving a mirror of clouds.

I walk in my bare feet on wet sand toast brown, shivering from the splash of Winter water. I come upon stretches of the bay like graveyards of tiny antiquities. As if Atlantis had given up her secrets at last. Fragments of shell, china blue, are pieces of broken pottery. Tiny conches have been delicately painted black and white; or silver, pearl or tawny brown. Perfect miniature starfish have been fashioned by ancient craftsmen. Corals, bleached white and porous, are the bone fragments of former inhabitants.

It’s my third day here. I recognise the slow swimmer in the bay; the jogger who will shuffle the length of the beach three or four times more; the chatty women with the yappy, white terrier. Then there are those of us like me who walk alone. I collect shells and look out to sea.

Sally loves Gary is carved into the sand by schoolgirls who have have flung off their shoes and giggle at the water’s edge, splashing one another with their toes. A small boy is with his mother. He runs in and out of the foam, chasing a gull, while his mother takes his photograph.

I look back at my footprints, I see they are small like a child’s.

Back in my room, I lay out today’s shells on the table. They are so beautiful for such little things, but have they already lost their lustre away from the sand?

Through the window the sea is now turquoise. The bay looks gentle but at night the crash of waves on the reef inhabits my dreams.

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