• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 11


The wire of the bucket is icy and grimy beneath my clenched fist. The sea burns my feet with its coldness. I have been fascinated for several months now by how too cold can be hot and too hot can be cold. I drag my feet from the quicksand, one at a time, like I am dancing. Like a fawn, perhaps, although I have no idea what a fawn looks like, won't for years.

Molly stands, pensive, in the shallows. She is shivering all over but probably doesn't realise. She probably doesn't see the boat and its well-dressed occupants, going a-boating as Aunt Margot would say once upon a time, or two weeks ago. Aunt Margot would discuss them all loudly over tea, the styles of their sleeves, their strings of pearls and what colour ribbon surrounded Mildred Clacey's hat. She doesn't discuss them anymore.

Molly ignores them, ignores the first strains of music drawn from the guitar's strings. She ignore everything. She can't face the world right now. I have to face it; it's my only way to get by. The sea, sky, shouts and music. But not the laughter. I shut the laughter out.

I know it will come, from across the beach, the shouts of "Jimmy, Molly, come in." Father's uniform, which he never changed out of after he came rushing back from the Colonies. He shoved a bucket in my hand, a spade in Molly's, said to get down to the beach and stay there until he called us back. He wouldn't let us see her.

The sounds of the guitar trickle out. They aren't sad, like Aunt Margot's violin. I thought they would sound like that. But they are so... so full. Rich. Deep. Shaking with not quite joy and not quite grief.



Somewhere in the middle. Molly's head snaps up. She suddenly is taking notice. Tears are spilling down her cheeks. I fawn-dance over and for the first time in my life I take her hand.

I can hear Father's distant shout, in my mind's eye can see the blue of his uniform as he strides across the sand. I can see Mamma smiling, loving us. Aunt Margot, fussing over her, changing her towels and sheets. But for now, for one moment, we just listen, hand in hand, to that magical music.

Then we turn around.

Eighty years later, Molly gone, Aunt Margot hanging on, I strum my uke. Not quite joy but not quite grief. Somewhere in the middle. The beach. That's where I'll be.