A storm in a sand cup #carrotranch #flashfiction

Charli Mills’ prompt this week is:

October 12, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a walk across the sand. It can be a literal day at a beach, in the sand box or a metaphor of your choosing. What is the sand like and what does it reveal to the reader?

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As a child my holidays were spent at Herne Bay, on the north Kent coast. I have many happy memories but the one I don’t have is of sand. The beaches were large unforgiving pebbles until the tied disappeared to Norway when a sticky gloopy version of sand appeared. But spending 22 out of 24 hours underwater made it (a) prone to suck you in and (b) absolutely shit at making sandcastles.

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My uncle Les loved to follow the tide out and scrape for cockles with homemade rakes. For two little boys this was so exciting, carrying canvas buckets and carefully following the paths that only he could identify but which looked the same as the surrounding sand.

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He knew. There were large patches of quick sand into which you could easily sink but he knew what he was about. Happy memories.

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Which leads to a less happy recollection: the infamous modern slavery tragedy that took place at Morecombe Bay when Chinese cockle pickers became trapped by the fast, in-rushing tide and drowned.

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In a post I did on Anthony Gormley’s extraordinary sculpture park on the sand near Liverpool – Another Place

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I was reminded about those poor souls and penned this poem.

Iron Men

Sharp shapes stand sentinel

Guards of the horizon

Canutes in iron

Broody? Or dreaming?

No feature reveals their mood.

Just an illusion of calm

As the tides approaches

and laps at their feet.

Inexorable, the flood covers

all, slowly, powerfully

Obliterating.

A cry is heard

from Morecombe Bay

floating along the Mersey coast.

Another time, another group

trapped by the self same tides.

Brooding? Thoughtful?

Hardly. Frozen by panic, concreted

into their glutinous prison.

The sea is not a muse

but a curse, death, a cruel deceiver.

Finally the surface is still.

Nothing disturbs the calm,

reflective pacific sea,

lapping my shoes.

I still hear cries, now seagulls

and untamed children.

I turn for my car, carefully freeing my feet

with each step.

And so to the latest part of my long (too long?) saga of Mary and Paul

The best laid plans…

‘Oh bloody hell.’

‘What’s wrong?’ Mary put down the cup.

‘That bloody dog. Look.’

Mary stifled a giggle. In the carefully pressed sand that Paul had spent hours levelling a set of canine paw prints stood out.

‘I spent hours getting that right.’

‘Maybe we should all make a footprint. Like they do in Hollywood.’

‘I’m making a patio, not Sunset sodding Boulevard.’

Mary waited until he smiled. ‘It’s a point though. Maybe Penny and Charlotte could leave hand prints when you do the concrete. Nice memory for them.’

Paul nodded. ‘Those sort of memory triggers are so important.’

To catch up on their back story, go here.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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18 Responses to A storm in a sand cup #carrotranch #flashfiction

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    brilliant post from Geoff Le Pard with Sandy beaches, cockle hunting, a tribute to those lost in a tragedy in the sands of Morecombe Bay and patio building!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I still remember gathering mussels off beaches in Spain with my father. We would put them in a sacking basin attached to an old tyre and my mother would cook them on the beach for supper. I also remember the unfortunate cockle pickers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post. I don’t think I’d ever tire of reading about kids on beaches. The poem is stunning and heartbreaking as is the photo of the lone figure before the sunlit water. Making memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills says:

    What a full and rich post. Each time you write about the trapped cockle pickers, i feel more connected to the story, their plight and the sculptures left behind. Your poem is brilliant. Too long? Oh, never! Mary and Paul are like tuning in to a weekly serial.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    I was happy to read about your childhood recollections. (Pity about the sandcastles, though.) I think I remember reading online at the time about the second story you referred to. It’s shocking to think that even today, there are people who are working under conditions that are tantamount to slavery.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember those figures first appearing on various rooftops in London. They caused quite a stir including the public dialing 999 to report that somebody was about to jump.
    Lovely photos, Geoff. You were (and still are) such a cutie.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eileen says:

    Powerful poem. Well done. Learn something new from you pretty much every time I read something of yours.. You make learning thought provoking. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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