The woman and the teenage girl made eye contact for longer than was polite between strangers.
The woman, a tourist, longed to spend more time in this place – wanted to entrench her memories forever.
The girl wanted to flee from this place – dreamed of being a bird on a wire.
On the harbour breakwater, waves crashed, seagulls swooped, and the crowd surged backwards and forwards.
A May Bank Holiday day out for families. A seaside excursion for the children. A day of freedom for the dogs.
The thin girl was pale and unhappy, dressed in bright yellow mum-purchased leggings (how she hated wearing them!) and a red checked shirt.
All she wanted to do was to escape her family, run up the one hundred and ninety-nine steps to the cliff, to a seat overlooking the sea, up the hill near the graveyard. But there was no chance of escape with a father like hers, ever vigilant.
The woman was visiting from the other side of the world, revelling in experiencing a classic English seaside town. A postcard-perfect scene with the curving bay, cliffs laced with paths, donkey rides on the beach, dual harbour walls, church and graveyard (complete with the ‘pushing up daisies’), abbey ruins, statues of historical persons, cute shops.
The seagulls squawked, seeking out the fish and chips.
The girl broke eye contact. She saw her chance. She climbed the railing and perched like a bird. She flew.
The woman screamed.