And the Beach is Where I”ll Call My Home by Ben Oakes

The waves hit the beach violently and I am all too aware of how far the tide has come in even in the past ten minutes. Sprays of water hit me in the face like a thrashing reminder of reality. My new reality, the reality I never asked for, wished for, hoped for. It was the reality I prayed against. My nightmare reality.

Where is there for me to go now? I kick my feet over the edge of the rock and look out to sea a little longer hoping I’ll find the answer there somehow. Breathing in sea air, I finally find the strength to stand and I bend down to pick up a couple of rocks from under my feet. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but observe, sometimes you can’t stand in the way or stop things. Like on the beach, there’s nothing you can do to stop the tide going in and out, there’s just not. I brush my hair behind my ear and look down to my damp Converse, when did they get so wet?

Stepping off the beach, I begin to kick the ground. The frustration inside of me begins to overflow as I look around at people passing. They’re completely unaware of what I have to go home to. What I need to go home to if I am to even go home at all. Would it be so bad to be homeless? On the streets? Perhaps it’d beat home.

“Home,” I snicker out loud. I thought it was supposed to be somewhere safe, somewhere you went when you had no other place to go. Well, whatever. Looking around again at random people, I think about my family. Passing shops and houses I walk absent-mindedly, I’m heading home all right because my feet are taking me there, my brain has nothing to do with that. I could turn around if I really want to, but I know that I really can’t. I need to go home. That, I owe to my sister.

I think about all the dumb mistakes my parents have made before, having kids was one, being involved in dodgy dealings, relying on the benefit to raise three children. Maybe life really had been just that difficult. Or maybe they’d just been irresponsible.

They dumped us in that children’s home for a reason and even though the so-called ‘carers’ hadn’t had the heart to tell us why yet, I’d made it my mission to find out for myself. I thought going to that beach would help me remember some things about the day they left us in the home. I thought I’d be able to figure it all out.

I was wrong, I’d found nothing. Nothing but a load of rubbish.

I found there what I knew in my heart we were to my parents. Something to throw away and pick back up whenever they felt like it. That’s what they’d been doing for years before they dumped us in that kids home, left us with other people who’d been left like us; other bags of rubbish.

As I turn back to the beach, I notice something. An empty crisp packet blowing down the road. I chase it. My hood falls off as I run, allowing the rain to fall onto my already damp hair. I stretch out my legs and sprint.

I sprint because I want to feel something, something other than just the rubbish my parents make me out to be. Pain strikes muscles I never knew I had, but I keep running, running and chasing the packet until finally I come to astop. I jump on the packet. Stomp and rip until there’s nothing more but shreds of glossy, greasy, gritty plastic.

I hear a cough, of an old man I think, and I see two feet near mine. I don’t know why but I don’t want to look up. I feel a strange sensation tingle through my body; I don’t know if it’s because of the stranger or the sprint I’ve just belted. He coughs again, I don’t know how I know it’s a man but I do.

I look up and nobody is there. There was definitely two feet there. Gone. Another breeze flows through my body and I am forced to turn around.

The children’s homes took us to Church, wanted us to believe in God. But what was there to believe in when your life was in the gutter? I realise now what they meant. About God being there, or maybe it’s just a change in the weather.

In my ear I hear a whisper and I swear it’s the man again.

“Just because you’re left behind does not mean you are forgotten.”

Something tells my feet to move and something tells me to smile.

Something tells me to move on from strife, something tells me it’ll be worth my while.

Something tells me my parents love me and there was nothing they could do.

Something assures me there are people who care even if I don’t think that they do.