Nursie had threatened me with a sound thrashing if I went too close to the water so I waited until she tilted back in the deck chair and covered her face with a handkerchief. She had fallen asleep on the way here too. Tom had made snoring noises as we drove along and he made me laugh so much that I thought I was going to wet myself again. But Nursie had woken up and smacked me and told me not to be silly. I had tried to tell her that Tom was the silly one but by then he was looking straight ahead and keeping his eyes on the road.
Maid Tilly was sitting in the Austin with him now. In the front seat. Tom waved at me and smiled and I waved back. I wanted to ask him to come and play but I knew that Maid Tilly would tell me to go away. She was Mummy’s maid and I didn’t like her; she pinched me when she was giving me a bath. I saw Tom push her head down into his lap then he leaned back so I could see his neck.
Mummy and her friends were all sitting on the scratchy blanket and clinking their fizzy wine glasses together, but not breaking them. Mummy kept shrieking. I wasn’t allowed on the blanket with them. I had to stay out of the way until Mummy called me over.
“Oh sweetie, don’t be such a tease!” she nuzzled against Uncle Brynn, “Fill me up, there’s a dear!” she held her glass. “Chin chin everyone!”
Uncle Brynn smelt like Daddy and he wore Daddy’s lounging robe at breakfast.
I knew they wouldn’t be watching me so I stood up and walked closer to the where the sea was. The water was foamy and it went over my boots. The bubbles didn’t pop straight away; they just stayed on my boots. I didn’t like them, they looked dirty so I went in a bit more to wash them off.
“Hey Chris, not too close to the edge, old boy,” Uncle Brynn shouted across to me. I took a few steps back. I looked at the sand, it was wet but when I pushed my boot down it looked like all the water disappeared. I did it again and again. Harder and harder.
“Have you ever been rock pooling?” Uncle Brynn stood right behind me, he moved so quietly he made me jump. I think he was a spy. Nursie had said that she’d be watching him but she wasn’t doing a very good job of it today. Uncle Brynn came closer, he was carrying the silver bucket, “Come on, I’ll show you.”
He tipped out the ice then went right up to the edge of the sea and scooped up some water. He didn’t even notice that his shoes were getting bubbly. He took the bucket over to where the rocks started.
“You need to come over,” Uncle Brynn beckoned to me and then he crouched down by a pool of water in the rocks, “Look, let’s see what we can find here,” he moved a patch of seaweed and I saw a crab scuttling away. Uncle Brynn dipped his hand in the pool and pulled it out; it snapped its pincers together. I laughed and then he popped it into the bucket.
“Not much meat on there, hey?” I shook my head and laughed at him, “Here you have a go, grab that stick from behind you and just poke around. Let’s see what else we can find. Here, look at this.” Uncle Brynn pointed to a shell on a rock. “That’s called a limpet, it clings to rocks and however hard you poke it, it won’t come off. Have a go.” I picked up the stick and poked at the shell really, really hard but it didn’t move an inch.
I held out the stick to him.
“No point, Christian, even I’m not that strong”.
“Brynn darling, come on. Leave the boy alone.” Mummy called, “I need you to open this bottle, Patrick’s just too pathetic. He doesn’t have your arm strength.” She squealed and sounded really silly.
Uncle Brynn stood up, “Got to go. See what else you can find.”
He walked back to the blanket and took the bottle that Uncle Patrick couldn’t open. It popped and he pulled the cork out.
I poked at the pool and saw tiny, tiny things swim around. When I stirred faster and faster they floated around like tea-leaves.
There were lots of little pools all over the rocks but I didn’t find any more crabs. I looked at the one in the bucket. I made it go round and round the bottom as I chased it with the stick. “Hey, Mr Crab,” I put my hand in the water, it was really cold and when I tried to pick the crab up it pinched me. It hurt, but I didn’t cry. What I did do was tip the crab out onto a rock. It landed upside down so I pushed the stick down into it until it went crack.
I looked up; Tom and Tilly had moved out of the car and were smoking a cigarette together by its side, Nursie hadn’t moved and Mummy and her friends were now unpacking the food. Just where the rocks met the cliffs there were a pile of blankets. I put the bucket down. It might be treasure, if it was I wouldn’t share it with anyone except Tom. Then we would drive off and rescue Daddy.
It was a dark green blanket and it was still wet. There were white patches on it. I looked around at everyone but no-one looked at me. They were quiet now and all I could hear were waves and sea gulls.
I went closer and lifted the edge of the blanket with my stick. There was a knee underneath it. I stood still but nothing moved. I stepped closer to the pile again and pushed the whole blanket away with my stick. There was a lady underneath it. She looked a bit like Mummy except she was a grey colour. She had a green shiny necklace. Her hair was nearly the same colour as Mummy’s. Her dress was pulled up so high I could see that she had no underclothes on. I poked the stick into the fur.
“Help me please.”
I took the stick and poked it into her cheek; she didn’t move and when I pulled it away it left a big dip.
I watched her face and her eye opened really slowly, like it was stuck. She looked at me,
“Please get help.”
I held the stick back like a spear and with all my strength I jabbed it straight into her eye. Then I pulled it out and stabbed and stabbed at her face.
She didn’t move at all. I dropped the stick.
I turned round and saw Mummy dancing in the sea with Uncle Patrick, she had taken her shoes off and they were getting wet as the waves went over them. Uncle Brynn stood watching them both from the blanket.
“Brynn, darling, you should come in and dance, it’s so much fun!”
I walked over to Nursie and pulled the handkerchief off of her face.
“I’m hungry, Nursie. I want some food.”