On The Beach

Photo Credit: Canadian Stories
On the beach… that’s where it happened. That’s where I found the answer to the question that had been bugging me all my life. On a deserted, lonely stretch of fine sand that felt strangely comforting beneath my bare feet.

The bank has a jagged edge, the results of last week’s storm surge. Sections of sod had been washed away never to be seen again, lost forever in the ocean. The exposed earth spilled onto the beach, blood-red in colour, as if Mother Nature had been slashed with the sword of time.

It was quiet today and the sea was calm beneath the partly blue, hazy canopy of the sky. Every once in a while the sun peeped through for a few seconds as if to say ‘Hey! I’m still up here.’ A few seagulls flew overhead but even they were quiet – for the most part.

The question I was once again pondering was simple: who am I and where do I come from? I had never felt like I belonged or fit in anywhere – not at the orphanage where I was raised, nor the schools I attended, not even in the work place. I had always felt like a misfit.

Now, having recently reached the so-called golden years stage of my life, I had purchased a tiny cabin perched on a small plot of land overlooking the beach and the ocean. I had planted a small garden because I’d heard that’s what people do when they retire. It helps keep them active, gets them outside in the fresh air and also helps to keep the mind occupied. I walked the beach every day, sometimes twice a day, and as I walk I study the rough, changing landscape.

Apart from that I liked to sit in my porch swing and just gaze at the ocean. I liked watching how it changed, its moods and colours reflecting the changes in the weather. One day it was peaceful and calm, the next it could be in a raging fury. Sometimes it appeared warm and inviting while at other times it looked cold and forbidding. The ocean stretched beyond the horizon, much farther than I could see, while the sandy beach and the scarred, uneven bank meandered on for miles and miles

The answer came suddenly. The answer to the question that had plagued me all those years: who am I and where do I come from? And suddenly I knew. I am me and where I came from doesn’t matter. I am complete in myself and I am content with who I am. How strange that the answer should come to me in such a desolate place. Maybe it was because I was at peace for the first time in my life – here on the beach.

© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, April/May 2015 (78th Photo Story Contest)


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