Yesterday started out the same as every other day. I got up, made a pot of coffee, and settled down with my laptop to catch up on the news and emails, munching on a piece of toast with marmite. I don’t start work until 11, so mornings are when I get to relax.
As I closed my laptop Max appeared, right on queue, lead in his mouth, wagging his tail so hard his whole body wiggled from side to side. Max is my labrador, the one good thing to come out of my relationship with John. Max was John’s puppy, but John’s new girlfriend hated dogs, so when John left me he left Max too. Five years ago that was, and it couldn’t have worked out better.
We walk by the beach every morning. Rain or shine, summer or winter, Max and I are there, same time every day. If the tide’s in we’re up on the greensward, Max sniffing out rabbits while I greet my fellow walkers, dishing out dog treats to Max’s friends, and comments about the weather to the owners. Max likes it best when the tide’s out, and I do too. He gets to charge about on the sand, in and out of the water, chasing seagulls. I get to stroll along slowly, watching worm casts appear in the wet sand, turning over rocks in the rock pools, feeling the sea breeze on my face.
The tide was heading out yesterday morning, still just covering the rocks that mark the edge of the beach before the sand begins. Max ran straight down to the beach, barking, which isn’t like him, so I hurried to catch up, worried that something was wrong. And, well, it wasn’t wrong, per se, just, well, odd. Down on the beach, left by the tide, was a huge ball of ice. Just sitting there.
Max was right up next to it, barking at it, unsure of what to do. I ruffled his neck and told him it was ok and, reassured, he ran off to chase a seagull that had ventured close. The ice ball was big, almost as big as me, and perfectly spherical. I placed my palm flat on it, and it was cold and wet to the touch, which wasn’t really surprising. I looked around, but there was nobody else on the beach, and no signs of anything out to sea that might explain it. As I looked back into the sphere I caught the reflection of two people, but when I turned they were gone.
A shiver went down my spine, but I couldn’t help but look back into the ice. The figures were close now, I could see them walking hand in hand along the beach. A couple it was, with a black lab almost identical to Max, and a golden retriever too. She had dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, pretty much like mine, and was wearing shorts and wellies with a black rain jacket. I looked down at what I was wearing, and a sharp chill ran through my body. The man had tousled blonde hair, and was also wearing the beach-in-autumn outfit of shorts, wellies and a rainjacket. That was too much for me. It was too strange and I needed to get to work, so I called Max and headed for home.
We were back on the beach later for our evening walk, but the ice-sphere was gone, carried away by the sea or melted by the salt. Neither the old couple with two spaniels nor the widower with the retired greyhound knew anything about it, and looked at me a little strangely when I asked, so I let it go and didn’t mention it to any of the other evening walkers. Funny thing though. There was a new guy walking on the beach in the evening. Blonde, tousled hair. Golden retriever.
I’m looking forward to this morning’s walk.
Written for Flickr Fiction, now renamed Ficktion and living over here where you can read other pieces too.
It’s been about six months since I joined in, so it might take a while to get warmed up again – bear with me!