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by Rich Giptar

It was sunny enough to burn so we took the bus/Renault/Land Rover down to Skegness/Bournemouth/Sandbanks beach.

I loved the beach though I’d never learned how to swim/how to snorkel/how close to stay to the motor boat. I dipped my head under the water again and again so my hair was silky like a mermaid’s, but by the afternoon it had dried into stiff spikes. Sun cream streaked my legs blue and watching the adults sunbathe made me feel bored and martyred.

“We could go and forage for samphire,” my mum yawned. She’d pulled a towel over her body because she was embarrassed about her BCG scar/youthful tattoo/waxing rash.

Samphire sounded like sapphire, which conjured up thoughts of blue crystals hiding between clumps of marram grass or wedged into the jenga of a cairn.

“Mam?/Mum?/Mummy?” I hissed, but she had dozed off. Her body looked softened and peaceful apart from little wisps of black/brown/blonde hair whipping her face in the breeze.

I peered into the picnic bag but the only thing left was a white packet of Tesco crisps with blue stripes across it like a hazard warning/chalky disc of rice cake/bag of fried kale that looked like it had been chewed and spat out already. Wearily I stood up and pinged some sand out of the hem of my swimsuit. I would go and look for buried treasure in the dunes.

Behind the beach huts it smelt of piss and cigarettes. Shoots of beach grass chewed at my feet, but plunging my hands into shaded sand felt good; cool and heavy.

I was happily alone until a squealing, roiling bundle of children came tumbling along the corridor between the back of the huts and the dunes. They were laughing, loudly shouting things like, “Get him look grab come get him get here!” Some were wearing bright clothes and waving little balloon-like fishing nets. I shrunk back into the troll-hair grass. I didn’t like circuses.

Suddenly a woman rounded the edge of the row of huts and came towards them. She walked heavily, pushing each toe into the ground, terraforming. Large black sunglasses bugged her eyes.

“What are you doing?” she shouted at her children.

The rumpus paused and boy with golden hair that ran to the nape of his neck and a rash vest spattered with jolly stars answered, “Playing.”

“Well I don’t want you to play with those boys.” She glanced at two children in the centre of the group. “They sound common.” The woman turned back to the beach and the kids who wore striped towelling cover-ups and pastel sun hats followed, unfazed.

The two boys were left in the shadows. The little one was too small to understand, wandered in a circle, almost spied me. But the tall boy sat down heavily and rested his face in his arms. I kept watching and he sat still like that for a long time.

Rich Giptar lives in a small flat in the southern UK. They are a new writer and have poetry upcoming in perhappened mag and Versification zine. They review books at richgiptar.wordpress.com and tweet @RichGiptar.