12th July 2010
There is little in my memory about how I came to Sea Cottage fifteen years ago. The journey on a cold November night is full of blank pages and I can’t piece it together. I can remember being woken up by my father and even through the blurry vision you have when you’ve just woken up, I could see the urgency in his eyes as he pulled me out of bed and dressed me. I don’t think I even protested as I was bundled into a strange car with my brother and my dad drove off.
The journey is a blur of flashing motorway lights illuminating Rupert’s sleeping face and the tired eyes of my father as he checked on us in his rear view mirror. However, hazy as the journey may have been, my first encounter with my new home is something that will always stick in my mind.
The sun was just beginning to turn the sky pink as we arrived in the abandoned looking seaside town in Dorset. We passed sad old houses and closed shops before turning up a small lane and headed towards the sea. We stopped right up on the pebbles and my father got out the car, opening my door to let me out.
‘I don’t want to go to the beach Daddy,’ my five-year-old self whined as I was lifted out of the car. Somehow Dad managed to balance me on his hip, my legs wrapped around his waist and my arms clinging to his neck and my face buried in his shirt.
‘We’re not going to the beach sweetie,’ he whispered softly to me. ‘This is our new home.’ And through the haze of drowsiness that clouded my vision, I saw the cottage. Now that I look back on it I can see the peeling white paint and the broken windows that flew open and shut in the wind, but as a child, with the mist coming up from the sea and the sun rising just beyond it, the house looked magical.
The inside of the house was just as neglected as the outside. Floorboards creaked, threatening to give way at any second, there was no form of heating for the first few months and the whole place was covered in dust and spiders webs. Almost all of that’s fixed now except for the creaking floorboards, we’ve never managed to find out why they made so much noise, and the heating only works when the boiler decides it wants to.
12th July 2009
I was furious as I stormed away from the cottage. I couldn't work out why I was so mad, I just allowed myself to feel the anger bubbling up inside of me. I headed towards the cliff at the end of the beach and ran up the slope, not watching to check my feet were landing on the flat bits of ground rather than the irregular bumps.
I always went to the top of the cliff when I wanted to be alone, to clear my head or think about something or in this case to be angry.
The sea was directly below me and the wind was whipping at my clothes, pulling me this way and that. I must have looked like a wild thing because for the first five minutes I wandered around, kicking anything I could to vent my anger.
When I managed to calm down enough to stop kicking things I stood as close to the edge as I dared. I loved the power I felt when I stood there, looking down at the waves crashing on the stones below. I spread my arms out and felt the wind push against my body, staring straight ahead at the miles of sea stretching out towards the horizon. Closing my eyes I felt like I was flying, being lifted away from the place that I could never escape from and watching my home disappear until it was just a tiny dot on the coast.
For the first time in ages I felt truly free.
That was until someone put their arms around my waist and pulled me back from the edge, throwing me hard against the ground.