Dave sighed as finally they’d made it up the hill and the tip of the molten silver sea was finally visible on the horizon, just as he had remembered it. He craned his neck to see better. “See,” he glanced over to Lana, his impeccably dressed wife, “told you it would be worth it. Eh? What do you think?”
Lana stared on in silence as she drove, refusing to be seduced by the soft grassy banks and the clear limitless blue sky. She usually ignored him these days, but there had been a time when she would have smiled and agreed. Dave didn’t mind though, not in that moment at least.
This place was special to him, he came from these parts, had lived there right up until the time when it came to leave the nest and find his own way in the world. He’d never came back once he had gone to university, that’s where he had met Lana the belle of campus and she was dead set on moving to London, because that was where all the rich and successful people lived.
However despite many years living in London, a piece of him had remained back here in Cornwall and now back on the right side of the Tamar River he felt whole. It was a great cause of celebration and he was suddenly hit with the guilt of leaving this forgotten corner. This was where he had spent all his summers, swimming and making sand castles on the beach as a child and camping and drinking when he was older. This place held all his happiest moments and now everything was coming together.
He grinned for he had now come full circle. He had left his homeland and travelled the wilderness for many years feeling lost until he met the first love of life sat beside him in the car and the second love of his life behind him.
Finally it was now the time to take his darling five-year-old son Luca to the beach, to pass on the beacon of Cornish sparkles and sunshine. It was his first trip to Cornwall and would be the start of many. Lana had finally conceded.
“Guess where Marc and Lucy have gone for their summer vacation? Mexico.” Lana tightened her grip on the steering wheel.
“Please Lana don’t be like this. I know it’s not the most exotic location but I’ll promise you we’ll have so much fun here.”
“We’re staying in a fucking caravan.”
“Shh Lana, Luca can hear you,” Dave glanced back to Luca in the back seat, “You alright there little man?”
Luca grinned excitedly looking out the window, “Are we nearly there yet?”
“Soon baby boy.”
“All my friends get to go on five-star luxurious holidays and you bring me here. Quite frankly it’s embarrassing, people will think we’re piss poor.”
“Lana I’ll show you a good time, I promise. Did I tell you my parents have offered to babysit one evening?”
“I don’t want to go out here. I don’t want to have to speak to any of your Cornish peasant friends.”
“Wow Lana, chill out.”
“Luca do you really want to go to the beach? Or would you like to do something more interesting?”
“Yeah boy, that’s the spirit,” Dave raised a fist in the air.
“How can this boy be mine? Honestly if it were the other way round and I were the man, I’d seriously consider whether he was someone else’s.” Lana sighed, “He hates me David, and he only dotes on you. Why is that?”
Dave wasn’t sure how to answer that one without unleashing an even bigger row, “Well let’s give this holiday our best shot, let’s spend some good quality time with each other and see where we go.” He nudged Lana but still she was in no mood for smiling.
After a few minutes of silence she visibly relaxed by lowering her shoulders and grinned. “I’ve been having an affair David,” she glanced across smiling, “with your best friend.”
“Hugo, he knows how to treat a lady of my standing. He wouldn’t have taken me here. I’ve made a mistake coming here.”
“I see,” Dave replied staring out of the window, trying to stay calm for the sake of Luca. He felt a pain in his chest and a sting in his eyes. He’d always tried I his best in life. He’d always thought he’d done right by her. All that mattered now was getting his boy to the beach.
“I see? That’s all you have to fucking say? You prick. Can’t believe I’ve wasted ten years of my life with you. So yes darling, make the most of this holiday. Make the most of your son because soon you won’t be a part of his life.”
“It’s OK Luca,” Dave urged.
“No it’s not sweetheart. Daddy’s been a dickhead and won’t be living with us anymore.”
“I want to live with Daddy.”
“You want to live with Daddy? What’s he ever done for you? I’m the one that carried you around for nine months and gave birth to you. You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me.”
“Lana calm down, you’re driving too fast, we’re on a cliff, it’s a long way down.
“I’ll show you fast, David, you pussy.”
As her foot pushed down more on the accelerator a red car came round the bend towards them and she swerved quickly to avoid hitting it. Suddenly there was no road, but the endless blue sky and an unfathomable depth.
Dave reached behind him feeling for Luca’s hand as they both screamed as the car plummeted and landed with an almighty bang. He looked around him and laughed with sheer joy, Luca looked perplexed but had a huge grin on his face. They had made it through.
“Daddy are we at the beach now?”
“Yes son.” Dave looked around him, all around them was soft golden sand. Trying to find somewhere to park here was always a nightmare but Lana had delivered on that front.
The car was a complete mess, it didn’t even look like a car anymore and he wasn’t sure how he was going to get out of the mangled carcass. Lana lay slumped but the air bag had been deployed.
“OK, Luca I’m going to climb out and then I’ll let you out OK?”
It took some effort but finally Dave wriggled out of the window, being careful so as not to cut himself on all the broken glass. Luca being so much smaller was much easier to get out and he made a mental note to himself to give that new car seat an amazing review on Amazon when they were back home.
He left Lana be as he took his son’s hand and found a spot on the beach. Right now he had to keep it together to focus on the now, not what was going to happen when they were off this beach and back home fighting over custody. He had to be strong for his boy, plus he was determined that Luca would have the best holiday of his life in Cornwall.
“Daddy I love it! Can we build a sandcastle?”
“Yeah, of course.” He took in the wonder in Luca’s eyes seeing the joy that he had felt as a child. Despite Lana’s revelation of her affair with the best man at their wedding he was truly happy.
“Stay here son.”
A crowd of people headed past them and went straight to the car. Dave followed them ready to explain that they’d have the car removed as soon as possible. One thing Cornish people hated was littering their pristine beaches but as soon as they got to his car they quickly backtracked and stood facing away as if embarrassed to be looking at it. Soon more people came to see and they too were quick to look away.
“It’s OK, we’re fine.” Dave pleaded to deaf ears, waving but getting no response. As more and more people came to see he began to get a sense that something was wrong. Some people were sobbing and children were strictly warned they were to turn around and not look.
Dave walked back to the car to see what it was that had upset them so and saw his crushed body protruding out of the window. Behind him he saw the golden hair of his son and quickly looked away, finally understanding.
“I cannot believe you just left me in the car. What is wrong with you? Hugo wouldn’t have done that.” Lana punched Dave on the arm making him giggle for he felt nothing. “And don’t you think we’re staying on this beach. I want to go home, back to London, now.”
“I don’t think that’s possible sweetheart.”
“We’re dead?” Luca asked. “Does that mean we can play here forever?”
“Yes son. We can.”
BIO: Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, S.J. Budd’s childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing. S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Her debut collection of short stories, Spells and Persuasions, is out now on Amazon.