Featured Review on this writing by LE. Berry

Sandcastles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 02, 2018

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Submitted: August 02, 2018

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Sandcastles

They weren’t exactly early when they arrived at the beach. Malcolm and his wife Kate had done everything that they could to ensure an earlier departure from home. The bags had been packed, a picnic lunch had been left prepared in the refrigerator. The kids had been asked to sort out what toys they wanted to take with them the day before.

Four year old Emily stood with her thumb in her mouth. “Not got somethin’”, and she refused to get into the car until she remembered what she’d forgotten. Half an hour later and she decided it was her favourite toy dog, Suki, then a further thirty minutes while Kate joined her in a fruitless search for the stuffed puppy. Tear-stained and runny-nosed she ran up to her Dad, grabbed him and bawled her eyes out.

I’ll just check the car, shall I,” he asked. And sure enough, there was Suki, sitting on the back seat where Emily had left her.

Gavin! We’re going now.” Kate called up to her son who, at nine, spent most of his time on his games console. He’d got bored with the wait, and with both his parents attention elsewhere had sneaked off for a bit more gaming.

Okay!” he shouted down the stairs. “Just give me a minute to finish this off.”

One minute turned to five, then fifteen. By the time Gavin appeared reluctantly at the top of the stairs, thirty minutes later, Emily announced she needed ‘Toilet!’

Finally in the car and on their way, Kate said, “At least we missed the worst of the traffic.”

Malcolm didn’t answer but stared crossly out of the windscreen. It was going to be one of those journeys then. Now, everyone knows that shutting two kids in the back of the car for any length of time is a recipe for boredom and arguments. Kate did her best to keep the peace but she could not hide her sigh of relief when the coast road came in to view.

So many cars were already parked. Malcolm was getting angrier by the minute as he drove further and further along the road looking for a space, any space, in which to leave the car. He braked sharply when he saw a couple returning to their car. He’d let them go, take their space.

Good luck, mate! It’s bedlam down there.” The driver shouted as he climbed into the car and pulled out, leaving a vacant space.

Shall we give up and go somewhere else,” Kate dared to ask.

After all this? You’ve got to be kidding me?” Malcolm stamped his way around to the boot, started to haul out bags.

Kate swiftly let the kids out, instructing Gavin to go and help his father. Then she, too, picked up a bag in one hand and kept a firm grip on an excited Emily’s hand with the other.

Even before the beach came in to view the sound of kids playing reached their ears, along with music, various shouts and laughter. Kate gave Malcolm a quick glance and found his expression impossible to read. He certainly did not look pleased to be there. “Come on, it’s supposed to be a fun family trip.”

Hmmph,” was the only response.

The sand did seem to be pretty much covered with bodies of various sizes, but if they headed up towards the far end it seemed to be almost deserted. It did mean lugging the bags that bit further but that had to be better than finding themselves trampled under-foot. Either that or being hit in the head with a beach ball.

Finally, they made their way down the cliff path and on to the sand. Walking to the far left side of the beach they found that they had the place more or less to themselves. Kate laid out a beach blanket, while Malcolm and Gavin moved off towards the sea, tossing a ball backwards and forwards between them. At least, thought yet Kate, her husband a smile on his face at last.

Wait for Emly,” the girl called, but her father and brother either did not hear, or chose not to.

Come on, Em. Take this bucket and spade and go and start on a sand-castle. I’ll be over to give you a hand in a minute.”

The small child seemed quite happy as she roamed around, collected up sand and piled it in to a heap. Kate kept an eye on her, making sure that she did not go too far. She seemed to be picking up shells now, and tiny pebbles. Hopefully, the idea was to decorate the ‘castle’ not to take them all home.

What had started off as a bad day seemed to have recovered. Malcolm and Gavin were laughing loudly, as they each did wilder and wilder throws, and Emily seemed quite content; right up until the moment when she screamed. Not a playful scream but one of fright. Something had definitely scared her.

A dead bird, maybe; or a crab, some kind of beached fish. All these possibilities ran through her head as Kate rushed over to her daughter. She could see Malcolm and Gavin approaching from the other direction, so much further away. And then she saw what her daughter had seen – a pair of feet sticking up from the sand.

Nothing so unusual about that, but there was no more of the body visible. A corpse, it had to be. No one could breathe with their head completely covered by sand so it had to be a dead body. Kate silenced her own scream and pulled Emily away, shielding her face and trying to think of an explanation for her discovery that would not terrify her.

As Malcolm got nearer Kate said, “Call the police! There’s a pair of feet and nothing else to go with them.”

Both Gavin and Malcolm walked nearer, overcome by some kind of morbid curiosity. Gavin walked around where a body, if there was a body, would be.

They moved back to the rug and Kate held Emily close. Why had they insisted on a ‘family day’? They never seemed to work out right. And this one had to be the worst of the lot.

Once the first siren sounded, the attraction of everyone else on the beach was caught. And as more followed, people began to move towards them. Had someone been drowned or something? Perhaps a haul of drugs or arms had been found?

The police walked over to the gathered family, and Malcolm took them off to show them the pair of feet. Instantly, things became quickly chaotic with officers cordoning off the entire area of the beach. In no time at all, officers in suits arrived and started to search around, prodding and digging carefully away.

After an indeterminate amount of time one of the men stood up, a pair of feet in his hand. There was no sign on blood, bone, tissue or muscle; no sign of a jagged tear. In fact on inspection they were sealed at the top. Fake! Not real feet at all!

It’s amazing what can be done with some of these three 3D printers, these days,” one of the men said.

Yeah, the whole lot of us will probably find ourselves up on Facebook or Youtube, giving someone a good laugh.”

Michael and Kate tried to laugh it off, but although Gavin seemed okay, Emily was still upset. They decided to call it a day, maybe head off to get a pizza or something. Next year, if there was a ‘family day out’, it would not be to the beach.

 


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