10th July


‘I just stepped outside for a little while,’ he said. ‘That’s all. From the look on your face . . .’

‘You were away for ages,’ she said. ‘I was worried.’


‘There were search parties out and everything.’

He screwed his face up at her. Without his glasses he looked like a mole caught in sunlight.

‘Search parties? Never!’

‘How would you know? You weren’t out looking. You were the one being looked for.’

He opened and closed his mouth a few times. ‘Why were they looking for me?’

She stroked his arm, the one without the tubes attached. ‘Because I asked them to. I didn’t know if you’d be able to find your own way back.’

‘But I only went down to the beach,’ he said. ‘The same as always.’ ‘That’s where you thought you were going,’ she said. ‘But you didn’t, not this time.’

‘What are you talking about?’ Yet there was some kind of understanding in his peering eyes, and he didn’t seem to be struggling with the fact that he was where he was, in a hospital bed, with her sitting beside him.

‘You didn’t get that far,’ she said.

‘To the beach? Sure I did. It was beautiful down there. The stars were out and the moon was pulling the waves up the beach and there was a breeze blowing off the top of them; not much but enough to make your eyes water a bit. I remember it distinctly.’

‘You only thought you were there. Your mind was playing tricks on you. You were somewhere else.’

‘I wasn’t there at all?’


‘Oh.’ He fell silent, staring at the end of the bed as if there were waves
breaking over it. She could have wept, watching the way he tried to absorb the news and almost did – yet could not quite grasp what it meant.

‘And where was I?’

She shook her head. ‘I don’t know. Maybe later you’ll be able to tell me.’

‘Later?’ He tested the word suspiciously.

The door opened and a doctor came in, smiling.

‘I know that face. From the beach.’

She tried to catch the doctor’s eye, but wasn’t quick enough.

‘Beach?’ the doctor said.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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