One Peaceful Beach

This landscape has been painted especially for me. Most artists spend their life chasing a view as perfect as this.

I afford myself an out-loud sigh of satisfaction. I’m not that old that I can get away with talking to myself just yet. I don’t want strangers thinking I’m a mad, old cat-lady in the making. Although, are four cats already too many? I miss them. Bless them.

This sluggish breeze is no match for my new all-weather jacket. If anything, it’s hugging to me more. The clouds seem to enjoy the wind’s attention, however, giving them something to do… look busy and have a place to be. The slothful element tickles the long grass and fusses sand around me.

The jacket is of great quality so I can’t feel any chill. Damned expensive but I think I can afford it, now.

Some would say this is completely the wrong season for this little island. I am not of the some. This place is all me.

It’s unfortunate, of course, but I’m quite relieved that Alfred wasn’t able to come with me. He hated the outdoors, anyway – unless he was vainly swinging a golf club in one of his more ridiculous caps, of course.

He would have hated the roar and salty spray of the sea, the crunch of the pebbles, the rattle of the dry grass, the… “Oh”, I sigh again. “The everything!”

Since I’ve been away, I’ve felt a huge burden fall off my shoulders. Just over a week ago, I looked in the same mirror as I had done for 30 years and didn’t recognise myself.

At first, I thought I was having a stroke or I’d slept funny, but no. No, it was a smile. Just languishing there on my face. Neither forced nor fearful. Just waiting there, enjoying its own presence and being.

I think it’s the same smile that’s on my face right now, but possibly bigger.

Oh, and redder. And possibly glossier.

I haven’t worn make up in years; well, not without having to. Had no reason to do myself up or try to feel presentable unless there was a wedding or funeral to go to. Or anywhere else that was demanded of me.

That’s the thing, Alfred always liked me to look my best when socialising with his friends or his work colleagues.

I think, in those circles, I was possibly referred to as the… trophy wife? I’m sure he never cared what state I appeared in when we were alone in the house… not that he ever saw me… even when I was handing him his dinner tray.

Although, you know, I do believe I did get a half-hearted attempt at a ‘thanks’ the other evening. Mind you, that may just have been trapped gas. That was the night before we went our separate ways.

My, my, this is glorious.

Completely impulsive trek, so didn’t think to pack a thermos. Or a hip flask, for that matter.

Hmmm, ever practical, ever prepared. Ever the good Girl Guide and nursemaid, even when she’s in her late fifties. No one else was ever going to take care of me. And now I am looking after myself.

Is that tide going out or coming in? I suppose that’s the beauty of it. And does it really know either? Do I know if I’m coming or going? No-I-do-not. And that’s exactly why I’ve got this big, broad, beautiful smile on my face. I have a fresh life, a new start. Anything could happen and anything will happen.

Right now, I don’t have anybody to look after or to look up to. No orders to take. I can eat what I like, drink what I like and when I like. I could even chat to this deliciously tanned young man coming up the beach without fear or shame or wads of make up to cover over the inevitable end result.

Peace, tranquillity, sea and sand.

Who could have suspected that Alfred had all that money locked away in some strange account abroad? My, my, and I thought I had him completely worked out.

And who would have thought that I’d be the primary benefactor should we part ways? Quite a shock, I can say.

He really did have a strange way of showing it. Hmmm, mind you it’s mainly the not showing it that was the problem.

I’m sure he did love me at the beginning. He had to have done. We were just a regular, giggling, young and fun-loving couple. But then something just… changed.

Whether it was the stress of his job or the passing of his mother, then later his father, I do not know. But I can safely say that the last fifteen years of my life have been a complete and utter misery for me.

I’m going to let that one lone tear rolling down my face land on this unfamiliar soil.

It’s not a tear for loneliness, nor loss or even self-pity.

It’s a tear of happiness and liberation.

One tear for all the countless arguments, the countless harsh words, the countless bruised cheeks, arms, legs and fractured ribs.

For the ignorance, for the arrogance; for the jealousy; for the fear. One tear for me. And so far away from all that.

Even the seagulls seem to have a strange accent here. It’s lovely.

I thought seagulls were seagulls the world over. Although I really am showing my ignorance now. They might be pigeons for all I know.

And just think. Just think, after all that – it was his precious BMW that finally finished him off. I can think of, and agree with, each and every possible derisory acronym imaginable. Boorish, Middle-aged, W-… well, never mind.

He spent more on that blasted car over the past few years than he ever did on me, once he’d turned.

I’m still a girl, after all; I do like my girly things. But most of the time it’s the thought I appreciate more.

The rather dashing man in uniform said it was brake failure.

Alfred must have been stamping those pedals furiously all the way down that hill.

Poor Mr Mohammed, must have had the shock of his life, seeing that great walrus’s head screaming at him from the car window. And first thing in the morning, too.

Poor fellow. Just a few cuts and bruises, though. And the odd illegible Sunday paper.

Of course, I’ll reimburse him for the shop window in time. And Alfred’s demolished papers, naturally.

Suppose I’d better start heading back now, I seem to have come quite far from the hotel.

I will miss this view. But I think it will always stay with me.

Now, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, it has to be said. However, pinnacle events, landscapes and bits of useless information do occasionally get imprinted, ingrained on my memory forever.

As such, it’s amazing the random little things one can pick up in a short space of time, what with the Internet and so forth.

For instance, I’m a complete fool when it comes to exams – I failed my driving test years and years ago, but there was one pearl of wisdom I did retain, courtesy of my instructor:

Did you know a normal car jack can lift up to 2 tons even when the force applied to it can be as little as the equivalent of a kilogram in weight?

Who knew? Incredible isn’t it.

Sea air always did make me sleepy.

I think I might pop to the bar for a glass of something bubbly and towards the bottom of the list. Then head off to bed, me thinks.

With the bottle.

And room service.

Is that my little hotel all the way over there? Crikey, I have come a long way, haven’t I?

Oh, and here’s another little nugget of pointless general knowledge: Did you know that the brake fluid in an R-reg. BMW saloon can be drained simply by removing one nut on the bleeder valve?

It’s true. And apparently it only takes about fifteen frantic pumps of the brake pedal to rid the entire system of fluid and render the braking mechanism completely useless?

You have to love modern technology… And I do love my brand-new, all-weather jacket.

END

Advertisements