Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: The Beach Hut
“And, lastly, to my great, great, granddaughter, Rosie, I leave my beloved beach hut. Follow your heart’s desire,” Mr Wilkins read, looking to the expectant faces before him as he handed Rosie a large, rusty looking key.
“I have a beach hut,” she muttered. “What am I supposed to do with a beach hut?”
“You drink cups of tea whilst enjoying the quintessential British summer, “ joked Ollie, her elder brother, “that means sheltering yourself in your beach hut from the lashing rain, freezing your arse off in the hope of a ray of sunshine.”
“Maybe you should sell it,” her cousin, Jacob, offered. “There’s beach huts going for 70k on some coastlines. Where is it?”
“Southwold, in Suffolk,” Mr Wilkins replied. “Very picturesque and in demand.”
“Isn’t that near a nuclear power station?” Jacob asked.
“About a mile or so down the coast.” Rosie groaned as Mr Wilkins gave a reassuring smile. “It’s a beautiful part of the world Rosie. Go see it before you make any decisions.”
Two weeks later, Rosie found herself standing in front of the wooden beach hut as the winter sea battered against the concrete sea defenses, covering her in a salty mist. She had thought of selling, and walking along the promenade, her hopes were raised as the cute little beach huts were all beautifully maintained, all standing in line like little rainbow soldiers. She’d researched the area and Jacob wasn’t wrong with his estimate. And she needed the money. A messy breakup had left her with a mountain of debt, and back home sharing a room with her sister. Funny how her ex started sniffing around now she had inherited what could be a small fortune.
Until she saw her inheritance.
Sandwiched between two palaces was her shack of a beach hut. Peeling paint, rotting wood, a broken step and mould growing up the sides. She wouldn’t even get seven quid for it let alone 70 grand.
Sighing heavily, Rosie stuck the key into the rusty lock, wondering what would greet her inside. It had been neglected for years by Ivy. She’d been in a home for ten years and hadn’t told anyone about it. Filled with curiosity, Rosie pushed open the fragile door, letting in light and fresh air in for the first time in years. Ignoring the musty smell, Rosie stepped in.
A beaten up old kettle sat on a tiny hob, a flask stood next to it on a dusty, wooden counter. Deckchairs and windbreaks sat, piled up against the wall, like they were holding it up. Rosie didn’t touch them just to be on the safe side. A corner of a brown, leather suitcase poked out behind a curtain under the counter. She pulled it out. The latches opened easily with two loud clicks. Butterflies danced as Rosie forgot about the cold, the smell and the distressed beach hut.
“Knock knock,” a voice said as he tapped against the wood. Rosie looked up from her mass of papers, photo albums, diaries and letters. “Hope you don’t mind me butting in. Curious to see who owns this. Haven’t seen it used before.”
“I’ve only just inherited it,” Rosie began.
“Well, if you need some help bringing her back to life. Hayden.”
“Rosie. Thanks, I think I need it. So you own a beach hut?” She wanted to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ but couldn’t without sounding sarcastic.
“Nah, my grandparents do. I guess one day it’ll be mine seeing as I’m the only one who uses it.”
“I’d imagine you’d get loads selling yours. I couldn’t give this away.”
“Sell? No chance. You should think twice too. Don’t want some rich, bored city type here.”
“I haven’t decided yet,” Rosie replied curtly. She wasn’t going to be told what to do by some stranger, even a good looking one like Hayden.
Hayden eyed her. Then left. She heard him next door, moving things around, heard the door close and then nothing. It was true. She hadn’t decided. Not just because the place was run down. There was so much history. Ivy had left all her past in the suitcase. Letters from her husband, sent from Italy during the war, black and white photos of her as a young woman with her husband in uniform. Photos of their children, drawings, poems. All packed away in a tatty suitcase. Rosie left the beach hut with the suitcase and made her way back to her hotel where she started to read the letters and diaries until the early hours of the morning.
The sun rise brought a crisp, bright day and Rosie felt alive, despite the lack of sleep. She walked down to the beach hut, seeing it with new eyes, through Ivy’s eyes. She knew Hayden would be there, donning a wetsuit for whatever water pursuit he did. She reckoned surfing going by the longish hair, beaded bracelets and all year tan. Seriously, who has a tan in winter from the North Sea?
She smiled. He nodded back.
“I’d like to take you up on your offer of renovating my beach hut,” she said tentatively.
He shrugged, pulling up his wetsuit.
“My great, great grandparents met here you know. During the war. He trained here before being shipped off to Italy. After the war, he stayed, they married and they came to this beach hut to enjoy the beach. In her will, Ivy told me to follow my heart’s desire. My desire is to restore this beach hut in their memory and to keep that memory alive.” She stopped, staring at him, this complete stranger whose approval she wanted.
“I’m off now, be back shortly,” he said, not looking at Rosie at all.”
“OK dear, be careful.” a voice said from his hut.
“My grandparents are sitting inside. I told them about you, asked if they knew Ivy. They’re here to talk to you,” Hayden said flatly. “See you when I get back.” He walked away, down the steps to the long stretch of sandy beach. Not sure why she wanted or needed his approval, she ran after him.
“I’m not going to sell.” she shouted as she caught up with Hayden. “I just wanted to tell you, before I speak to your grandparents, which is a lovely thing you’ve done by the way. I’m not selling. I decided last night.”
They stood on the deserted sand, the gentle rumble of the sea breaking the silence.
“You know,” began Rosie, her voice barely a whisper, “when they met, it was love at first sight.”
"I guess that doesn’t happen very often,” Hayden replied, not lifting his gaze from Rosie.
“I guess not. You’d be extremely lucky for that to happen, again, in the same place.”
“Very,” he murmured, taking a step closer, toe to toe, their hands almost touching in a feather like touch. “The sun is shining, the sea is calm. I’m feeling lucky today.”
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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
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