Sunday 6 June 2021

The People


by Lynn Clement

black coffee

The people are coming back, now the winter has gone. Only in dribs and drabs but its noticeable. The noise is greater.

 I enjoyed the sometimes stillness and the almost silence. Just the shushing of the waves upon the rocks. I even enjoyed the storms, as the sand battered the windows like bullets and the lights flickered, threatening to give up. I had my candles at the ready. I would have enjoyed that too. Just me and the wind, the sea, and the dark.

 But now the people are back.

I’ll go out later, in the evening. They won’t be on the beach then. They’ll all be fair weatherers.

The sea is even nicer in the dusk, with its shadows of charcoal and grey. The smell of the seaweed clings to the air and the salty tang works its way into the corners of my mouth. I’ll wear my clogs and kick them off so that the gritty sand can play in between my toes, whilst I sit and listen to the shush of the merciful waves.

I’ve been doing that all winter. Sometimes it’s been bitter. But I did it. It made me feel alive. That’s why I’m here. To feel alive.

 To feel.

There’s one of them.

A fair weatherer. Huge bag of stuff. Windbreak, towels, ball, picnic, radio. Plastic bags that will blow on the breeze and end up at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Why can’t they leave us alone? Leave me alone.

 I need to be alone.

A child is laughing outside my window. So, I shut it and go into my kitchen at the back of the house where I can’t see them.

The letter is on the kitchen table, where I’d flung it.

The coffee mug is warm, and I wrap my hands around it, staring at the letter. Six months is all it took. Twenty-eight or so weeks to un-ravel the threads of my life.


 To tell me the hospital has no case to answer.

There is a pain like a dagger-blow in my chest. I always feel that now. The letter has just reminded me to keep on feeling it, and not to let the sand and the sea heal it too much, or too soon.

Tapping on the window rouses me. I think I’d fallen asleep. Is it another storm? Surely not, the sky was bright blue this morning. The sun is shining into my yellow kitchen making me blink.

 The tap again. It’s not loud, soft like a …child’s.

It is a child.

She looks six years old. She has curly blonde hair. She’s covering her eyes with her little hand so that she can peer into my window. I can’t see the colour of her eyes. I think they’ll be blue. Huge blue eyes, with big black dots in the middle, and a pink rosebud mouth that will curl up at the corners. I wonder if her name is Ellie too.

 She waves as I stare at her, and my heart races.

‘Hello!’ shouts a voice. Not the child. It’s a man. ‘Hello, sorry to disturb you but could we have our ball back? It’s gone into your garden.’

I close my eyes and have a battle with myself. Shall I, or shan’t I?

I wonder if she does have blue eyes.

The warmth feels good on my face as I open the door to retrieve the little girl’s ball.

About the author

Lynn is a regular writer for Cafelit. She has recently worked with Cafelit author, Allison Symes, on the final edit of her first flash fiction collection, ‘The City of Stories.’
Lynn is a member of Basingstoke group, Writers inc.
Lynn now has a facebook page

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