Chapter 7

Written by: Donna McTavish

Water roared in her ears and pressed against her skin holding her in an icy embrace. She was aware of space expanding and contracting. Something knocked against her head, sending her into a spin, pain ripping through her body. Water crushed her, caressed her, cradled her like a baby and then tossed her away like a piece of garbage.


When she opened her eyes she was staring at a pale grey sky framed by a mass of tangled branches. There was roaring in her ears but it wasn’t water. A deep primordial fear had been woken and was pounding on the inside of her skull. She wriggled her toes and her fingers and was reassured; the weight of her body pressed into the cold wet gravel filled her with gratitude.


She was lying on a narrow strip of shingle beach that was being raked by the receding water. Her body was wedged between tree trunks stripped bare by the violent sea. She moved her hand to the red nylon rope around her waist. She tugged gently and felt it resist her. Teresa was on the end of the rope and energy flooded through her body at the thought. She swiveled her head to the right and watched the trail of rope disappear under a pile of debris. A single thought reverberated in her head: find Teresa. The rope would be her lifeline once again: red like blood and strong like the bond between a mother and her child …. or two fair-weather sailors. She grimaced at the thought. It had been her idea, she was responsible, now she must find her friend. Slowly she turned on her side and raised herself to her knees. Each movement dislodged another fragment of pain but she crawled along the thin red line making her fingers touch every part, feeling every twist and strand, enjoying its resistance. As long as it remained unbroken, everything would be alright.


She had no idea of time but in moments when the pain receded, she remembered measuring it out - four double-arm spans. Her knees were bruised and her hands bloody but still the rope went on. She had found the first buoy and rested in jubilation. Further on, the second buoy was still attached. She made faster movements knowing that Teresa was not far away. She tried to call out but the wind carried her feeble attempt away and it mingled with the sound of broken trees and soaring seagulls. The red trail disappeared under a mound of foul brown seaweed lying thick and greasy on the shoreline. She was losing focus. The pounding in her head was more insistent, fear, pain, fear, pain, and her whole body vibrated with its rhythm. She gave the rope another tug anticipating its solidness but it slid through her hand and she fell backwards. Her pain-soaked brain was screaming at her now with doubled energy. She looked at the tangle of frayed ends and began to cry.


I could hear the stone grinding against each other and felt each tear of her skin as she struggled over the gravel. Oh my goodness such pain and what a terrible ending to al that effort. Wonderful description and storytelling.
Great tension and buildup to a dramatic moment. I thought she would rescue Teresa. This is a really good - 'must read' - piece and just the sort of text that conjures up a movie scene during which fingers holding a crisp are motionless halfway to the mouth as the viewer is caught up in the action. Smashing stuff, Donna.