My mother and I were never close. There has never been an unshakable emotional bond between us. No invisible strand that binds a mother to her child, post umbilical tie. Even as a child, I felt more of an accessory than a daughter. She never tried to cultivate a rapport between us, so I never felt that ache. That overwhelming sense of dread that engulfs you when you think about losing someone you love.
I like Beryl too, she is always upbeat, and we go way back. She teaches PE at Didsbrook’s secondary school, including me for seven years. I thought she was a bit long in the tooth for the job then, but she was probably only fifty-something. She would send us out for a five-mile run up the A59 and follow us in her topless MG shouting words of encouragement. Beryl is due to retire at the end of the next term and has been working on a novel. From the rather steamy pieces she has been reading to us, she could well be Didsbrook’s answer to E. L. James. She captures everybody’s attention when she reads, especially Basil and Tom, who are as animated as we ever see them. I can’t help wondering if Beryl is drawing from her own experiences. If she is, I really do need to get a life.
It should have been my first summer of love with that ridiculous Atticus Ridley. Why his parents chose to call him after an ancient Greek philosopher is a mystery. Looking back, I think his Christian name affected him psychologically, especially at school, when his classmates nicknamed him Abacus. Mind you, he was brilliant with figures even as a child, which I suppose is why he became an accountant. Then, of course, there was his OCD problem – a constant obsession with cleaning. The upside of that was I never had to lift a finger in the housework department.
Seduced by the rush of the incoming tide, I walk towards the shimmering haze where the cool Atlantic Ocean meets the sun-drenched shore. My pace quickens, the hot sand burns the soles of my feet.
The sun, high in the azure blue sky, heats my tanned and tingling skin as I walk slowly along the water’s edge. The powder puff clouds drift slowly by on the velvet breeze, its feathery touch fluttering against my face.