She ran down to the sea, needing the touch of water, needing to hear the susurrations of the waves and the circling cries of the gulls. She needed to see far out to sea and the horizon where the ships disappeared off into the unknown beyond the edge of seeing.
I stood further back, at the edge of the soft sand, just beyond the tide-line where the flotsam lay like some rejected offerings to a fastidious sea-god, watching her. She had already shrugged off her sandals and her feet were under water, her dress clutched in one hand, the free part of it fluttering in the sea-breeze. She was looking hard into the water; as if she was decoding some secret I could not see.
I could see from the shape of her body, the way she leant out towards the depths, that she wanted to be out there, swimming free, escaping something that lay on the land behind her, something beyond the dunes, back in our real life, something she did not want to face.
I, though, felt anchored to this dry land, mistrustful of the promises of the sea and still wary of the stories told by my father and mother, my uncles and their wives, the tales of the deep and the enchanting songs of the mermaids, of how the promises made by the sea could exact a very high price. I had seen the waves that could tear a life away from a shattered deck. I had seen the sea’s rages and its torment; so I stayed back while she listened to the gentle lapping waves whispering to the beach, believing all the soft promises they made.