Now and Then – Karitane
As I wander down the battered shore the tide slowly recedes, revealing treasures perfectly placed on the surface of the still damp sand. Looking into the distance, I am able to see ashy grey rocks peeking over the top of the uneven tide line. Perhaps hiding secrets that I yet to uncover. It was just me, there was no one else in sight but the loneliness didn’t bother me. This was my beach, my kingdom. I wade myself into the warm briny water letting out a giggle as I plunge under a perfectly blue hued wave. Deafened by the silence I swim towards the surface, as my head pops back up from beneath the water, sounds of waves crashing and seagulls squawking fills my ears once again. Reaching the shore my feet bury themselves in the sand with every step, salty wind dances around my body sending tingling sensations through me. I wrap my sandy fingers around the handle of my lime green bucket that is slowly filling with shells all of different shapes and sizes gleaming in the sun like gems, created in an aquatic world just for me. They were almost as beautiful as the ones I had seen on tv that sat proudly upon the queen’s crown. Continuing on the quest to find more treasure I prance along the glistening sand, constant rattling echoes from the shells bouncing around and the footprints I leave are soon erased by the constant lapping water that is laced with foam. Running my fingers through the warm golden grains pushing it into a mound in front of me, I arrange the shells that once sat buried beneath the water into my creation that would soon be washed away, never to be seen again. Maybe washed so far away that the shells that sat on my castle would wash up on a beach across the world for another little girl to treasure like I did. I sit on a sandy rock staring out into the horizon thinking of all my precious gems tumbling over the seabed, thousands of miles away with the beautiful fish with pigmented scales of every colour swimming gracefully around them. Lulled by the sound of the waves crashing on the sculpted shore I wandered back home awaiting for the next day so I could return to this very kingdom.
My toes reach the warm, sun-baked sand; the sudden feeling of anxiety fills my body. With every step I take the awaiting ocean approaches me. The tide seeps into the sand between my toes as I slowly advance into the water with my breath quickening with every cautious step I take. The cheering from children splashing around in the water next to me causes me to lose focus. In that split second a menacing wave sweeps the sand from beneath me causing me to lose my footing, Plunging under the turning water I am trapped. Deafening silence rings loudly in my ears as I get forced into the shell-covered sand, Wave upon wave pushing me down; panic sets in and my limbs rapidly try to detangle themselves from the seaweed that has wrapped itself around me like arms trying to tie me down. Right before I feel like I am going to faint I find myself laying on the cold damp sand, blinded by the white rays of sunlight that is illuminating the blue sky. Towering cliffs surround me, smothered with seagulls that are continuously squawking causing some sun-kissed people to leave in frustration. It is no longer my beach it has been taken over and the fear has set in. Countless numbers of people are sleeping on the now seaweed infested sand and surfers ride the waves like it’s their last but I just lay here, trembling. I lift myself out of the water and begin to wander down the crowded seashore, which has taken over by beach comers who claimed to know the kingdom that was once mine more than others who had walked the same path as oneself. Leaping over the unwanted seaweed my feet sink into the rough sand that used to be softer than any silk you had felt. The same water but now entangled with fear. It was the same place that I loved so much but it feels as if it’s completely foreign. Walking past the shells that still lay peacefully reflecting the sun’s warm rays of light but there is no urge to pick them up, they no longer seem as beautiful as I remember. Not so much treasure but more like litter scattered everywhere. Sitting down on a rock staring out into the horizon I questioning what’s beneath the deep green-blue water, something the innocent mind of my younger self would never have imagined but when the fear develops it’s all my mind races about. Endless darkness stretching deeper and darker with every downward motion. The unbearable coldness overwhelms my body but I just keep swimming whilst surrounded by fish that have an array of differently pigmented scales. Goosebumps rise from beneath my sand covered skin and all turns black, as my eyes force themselves shut.