Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice:
Title: Beach Days
An unusually warm autumnal sun spread her rays across a cloudless blue sky, shimmered on the sea below and warmed up the stony beach. Amber nestled back against the stones, looking comfortable. But her heart beat ferociously with every crash of the wave against the shoreline.
“Just relax Amber, you’re not gonna get wet,” Dean joked as he readied his camera. She afforded a small smile before placing the shades over her eyes which shielded her anxiety. “Hey, Amber, chill will you. You’re all tense.” Dean put down the camera and sat down next to her, casting a shadow over her. “What’s up?”
“You can’t lie to me Amber. I know you too well.” He removed her glasses, staring into her pale blue eyes that usually sparkled but today they looked a glassy grey, etched with sadness. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Dean wiped away a tear, his touch soothing to Amber. She clasped his hand before kissing it.
“I’m fine, really. Just a bit emotional that’s all.”
“I can see that. The lens can see it too. We’re not gonna get this shoot done with you looking so miserable so get if off your chest. What is it?”
Amber sat up, clasping her hands around her knees, staring out to sea. It looked so peaceful, so beautiful but that was just on the surface. “I killed my best friend.”
A nervous laugh left dean’s lips. “What? What do you mean?”
“You’re going to hate me, leave me and I guess you won’t want to photograph me anymore so I’ll lose my job too.”
“So why tell me? Why now?”
“You asked. I can’t hide it. Not here where it happened. I’ve never been back until now. I didn’t know we were coming here for a start. If I’d known, I could have prepared myself or even not come.”
“I thought you’d enjoy being back in your hometown and I thought a surprise visit was romantic.”
“Sorry,” Amber muttered. Dean draped an arm around her, pulling her in close. He kissed the top of her head, inhaling the familiar, subtle smell of coconut. His other hand was buried deep in his jeans pocket, squeezing the small box tightly as he sat silently, waiting for Amber to tell her story. Amber inhaled deeply.
“It was a really hot day; we were in the middle of a drought. The sea was busy, full of kids, people, dogs. I came down as usual with Sam. We were water babies. We met some friends, had ice cream, pizza, coke, threw stones, paddled, swam and splashed. It was heaven.”
“Sounds perfect Amber. But obviously something went wrong.”
Amber closed her eyes but the image was just as clear, painted to her eyes and always would be. The sea was so blue and so warm. Amber was a good swimmer but that didn’t mean strong. Her arms ached and she lagged behind the group. With every stroke, she seemed to stay where she was and tiredness crept in. Gulps of salt water took her breath away as she tried to shout to her friends. Trying to float didn’t help; she just buoyed further from the shore. He4r salty tears mixed with the sea. Fear gripped her. She waved her arm frantically, trying to grab someone’s attention on the heaving beach. All the bobbing heads, frolicking bodies didn’t spot her.
But then she saw Sam. He was swimming back, with the raft. Mustering every ounce of strength, Amber began to lift her arms to swim towards him. He was tantalising close. Amber’s arms flayed, stretching to reach for safety, finger tips just touching the raft before it bobbed away.
“I’ve got you,” Sam yelled, holding her, pulling her close to the raft. He heaved her up. In her panic she kicked out her legs with one last push of energy before collapsing in the dingy, panting for breath to fill her aching lungs. Sam didn’t follow. Sitting up, she saw just blue. No Sam.
“Sam!” She repeated over and over again. “Sam!” A life boat pulled up, wrapping her in a foil blanket, examining the wound to her heel as the search for Sam continued.
Amber paused, wiping away the tears that stained her face. She wasn’t sure if she could continue. After all those years, it seemed like yesterday.
“I think I can guess,” Dean began, “your wound to your heel. When you kicked out, you kicked Sam.”
Amber let out an anguished cry. “Shh, it’s ok Amber,” Dean soothed, burying her head into his chest.
“He was unconscious. I knocked him unconscious and he drowned,” she sobbed.
“And that was an accident Amber. It was nothing more than an accident. You have to believe that. It’s what I believe. So you’re not going to lose me. I’m staying right here.” He continued to hold her as they stared out to sea, the little ring box in Dean’s pocket could wait another day.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x