With the bank holiday nearly upon us, and with many of us heading for the beach, instead of a blog, here’s a 300-word short story.
Catch ya in September..
He took my hand; shook it warmly.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, casually, calmly. But I could tell by the burning in his eyes that he felt neither casual nor calm.
I knew how he really felt: said nothing. Didn’t need to. We exchanged pleasantries, chatted to journalists, smiled for the cameras: all over the web in seconds – as many seconds as it had taken for me to take his hand the first time.
“Take my hand!” I’d shouted, above the viscous, angry voice of the wind that worked to deafen us as I’d balanced perilously over the edge of the life raft.
The relentless spray had battered our faces, cold salty water trying hard to blind us, distract us from our task. But we would not be distracted. Not ever.
Numb from the cold I’d felt his fingers weak in my gloved hand, leaned further and grabbed his coat, hauled him aboard. His face, riven with shock, looked back at me: a portrait of fear and dismay and embarrassment.
“Canapé?” his wife offered. I accepted. Popped the little shrimp-topped pastry into my mouth, spat tiny crumbs as we made conversation. Someone laughed and we turned. A fat man I didn’t recognise. But then we all look so different with our clothes on. In the horror of the moment, soaked through to the skin and shivering, when the light of life is almost gone from our eyes – then we are naked. And I have seen so many of us naked. I check my watch. Time to go back to work. New houses won’t build themselves. I say my goodbyes and leave, my pager like a second heart, beating gently in my pocket, until it’s time to take another hand.
Thank you to all the RNLI volunteers who so selflessly give up their time to help those in danger on and in the sea