Breaking point

The long coarse grass dances elegantly in the gentle wind. Above, a smattering of fluffy clouds make their way across the sky, breaking up the blue expanse as they hurry off into the distance. The sun sits so low it looks as though it might plunge into the ocean at any given moment. I imagine being blanketed in a cool darkness far more fitting than the last of the afternoon’s rays that bear down heavily.

A swishing sound tears through my thoughts, taking my gaze away from the horizon. The red and blue diamond-shaped piece of material boasts a long white tail that diligently follows its every move. Coming to a halt mid-air, the kite hovers as though pausing for thought, before swooping down and jerking right then left to continue its journey. Attempting to trace its line back to an owner, I stand on tiptoes and look ahead, but a lot of the beach is still out of view.

It’s difficult to know which path to take as the sand dunes have moved so much over the past year. Smooth golden mounds now stand where it had once been possible to view the harbour. They don’t look sturdy enough to take the weight of anything more than the blades of grass that have begun to grow out of the top of them, so I stick to the well-trodden paths below. Looking around, I am reminded of campfires and barbecues that have taken place on the floor of the dunes. So much shelter is offered here, you could almost be fooled into thinking the air is permanently still.

The wind begins to pick up and my footprints disperse as quickly as they are made. A large dark cloud looms, threatening to ruin the masquerade such glorious weather has provided all day. Relieved, I feel a spot of rain land on my nose as the weather finally begins to break.

Moving with more energy than my body has felt all day, I come to a break in the dunes. The shoreline, which had earlier been filled with the sights and sounds of children playing, lies empty in the distance. Exposed to the elements, I run my tongue around the outside of my mouth to taste the encrusted layer of salt.

There is no sign of the kite or its owner; the beach stands empty. Out to sea, the stormy air uses its energy to form a deep swell that not even the bravest of surfers can be spotted in. Rising crests of grey water transform into perfectly peeling waves that move at great speed before crashing down and breaking into foam on the shoreline. It is almost too difficult to differentiate between the grey sky and the stormy sea.

To my right, behind the first wall of the dunes, stands a line of mobile homes. A soft light glows from the front of just one, reminding me of my starting point.

On the window ledge, I can just about make out a pair of binoculars that were not there when I left. I put my hood up and pull the drawstring tight around my face, offering my mind a little shelter.

The end of the beach is close but I feel as though I could keep on walking. Leaning into the gale, I drink in the sight of the potent waves crashing on the rocks and exploding in the air. Exchanged words of fury that had rung through my ears are now replaced by the sound of the tempestuous Atlantic.

The rocks are slippy under my bare feet and hands as I scramble across to reach the edge. Raindrops mix with salty tears and seep into every pore as the heavens open and relief floods. The weight that has burdened my shoulders for so long lifts and I stand exhilarated, facing the ocean. Head up, chest open and arms wide, my muscles freeze in place. There is no turning back as I am braced to meet the black wall of water than rises up to engulf me.


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