Beryl marched up and down the shingle of the beach the entire day. She was bare-foot and grimy, but the soles of her feet were too calloused for the pebbles to gnaw at. Not that she’d have felt it even if they’d torn open her toes. In the grey drizzle of that afternoon, she was far too preoccupied with the sea ahead, with whatever was lurking out there.
Vaguely, somewhere in the back of her mind, she was conscious of the other women behind her. That they were staring at her as they walked the streets, or peering out of their windows at her. Not one of them approached her. They just let her get on with it. The other women may be choosing to bury their pain, but they knew exactly what she was going through.
More than once Beryl roared at the sea. A sound ripped up from so deep and low it seemed to tear at her diaphragm. Nonetheless it was swallowed whole by the crashing of the waves. She screamed out, demanding to know: “Why?”
But it was more than that. She couldn’t articulate it, wouldn’t put it into words, but to keep her sanity in place she needed to grasp just what the hell was out there.
This was her home, the place she’d grown up. What had happened to it?
Her childhood was an idyllic one of playing on this beach with her Mam and Dad looking over her. Building sandcastles with her younger brother, Gwyn, or the two of them playing chase. A dozen favourite childhood games, ten-thousand amazing memories. As they got older, they would meet other kids of the cove and pass around illicit cigarettes and plastic bottled cider. It was then that the parents pretended not to notice.
She knew it was a beautiful childhood, a happy childhood. Even in adolescence she had been perfectly delighted with the way she was and the life that surrounded her. Yes, she’d leave and go and see the world one day, but she’d be back. She’d always had a fascination with San Francisco, another town in a bay, yet one with more chance of sunlight than the South Wales coast. She knew though that even if she got there, San Francisco wouldn’t keep her. Her heart belonged to Wales, it belonged to the little village of Beddnic.
As things turned out, she couldn’t leave, wouldn’t leave.
Dad had gone. Gwyn had gone too.
Something in the sea had reached out and snatched away the men in her life. And that meant she couldn’t go anywhere. That she was trapped there roaring helplessly at the sea.
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