Relics

Going for a stroll, that’s what we did, come fair or foul weather. The dog needed his walk, whatever. And this was the game.
Stop. Close your eyes. Tell me what you hear.
The wind whispering in my ear, booming waves, a girl shouting on her mam. She’s excited, must have found something.
What else? Listen carefully. Now, open your eyes and tell me what you see.
I-spy with my little eye, and I would, if I could, if I had the name. And what I didn’t know, couldn’t tell, he’d say, but sometimes it was just flotsam, shapeless sea sludge, ‘What the sea’s spat back, telling us not to be so slovenly.’

And now, on this cold winter beach: foot prints, paw prints, marks in the sand. A black dog clutching a red ball retrieved from the waves. Dropping the ball at my feet, the dog retreats. Her owner apologises, ‘wrong one, Ruby.’ The dog waits. She calls. Ruby hesitates.
A child rummages in a clutter of seaweed on the shoreline. ‘Leave that alone Phoebe, it’s slimy.’ Phoebe squeals, extracts a length of kelp taller than herself. Bruno is excited, barks, snatches, Phoebe topples, screams, is scooped up, comforted by her mother. ‘I told you not to play with that. Bruno, stop it.’ Dry eyed, Phoebe struggles to be at her game again.

Watching a man skimming stones. We greet each other in passing. He holds out his hand, ‘Curious, eh? Might be worth something, then again, might not.’ A battered locket, long since sealed tight, but there’s still a delicacy, it has its own beauty.
Finds like this were special for you too, something saved from oblivion. Looking at that locket, hearing me calling Mickey, you scanning the sand, stopping, stooping, another coin dropped in your pocket. There’ll be chips on the way home tonight.

Clouds massing out to sea threatening rain, sweeping in, passing over, populating the beach again. Children playing in rock pools, anxious parents wondering, ‘What’ll we do if they get wet, and in this cold weather?’ Nothing. Nothing that running on the sand won’t cure.