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by Sarah Davy

A mother scans the hazy shore, seeking the turn of an arm, a soft freckled cheek. Toddlers balk next to her while their feet are whipped clean with coarse towels and swiftly covered in socks and shoes so no new grains can make a home between toes and bedsheets. Heads swivel as a man motions toward the rocks. Dark, jagged and salt licked but for a faint splash of lime green and flesh. A jet ski springs into life sweeping out in an arc of spray to collect the crumpled form and drape it over the pillar box red seat. The mother is on her knees. Palms buried in wet sand. Hair clagged to eyelids and lips with hot tears. She knows the body gently laid out. A white strip of skin and shorts and scuffed knees. A scarlet mass where blond curls sat to be ruffled by aunts with hairy chins and tea dresses and pockets full of Polo mints on Sundays. On the beach, children are hoisted under their armpits and carried home to be put to bed with ice cream and stories and suffocating embraces. White dots of smoke curl and hang in the air as barbeques are hastily extinguished. A mark of respect. Her wail rises, puncturing the still air and seeping under rocks and shells and discarded blankets. Briny liquid washes away the stain on the beach where her boy lay cold. She turns her face to the horizon before snapping and breaking into a million pieces to be carried away on a breath of balmy August wind.

Sarah is a writer and facilitator living and working in rural Northumberland. She writes flash fiction and creative non-fiction and is working on her first novel. You’ll usually find her on Twitter and Instagram talking about dogs, books and tattoos @sarahdavywrites. Sarah also runs workshops, retreats and mentoring for new writers at https://www.sarahdavywrites.co.uk/.