My Day At The Beach

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(Author's Note : My entry for the qualification round.  Sub-genre - Post-Apocalyptic.  Prompt "My Day at the Beach".  Word limit 500 - word count 499 not counting this note!)


Today we were going to the beach.

Not my favourite place to be honest, but Tony had always loved it. His long legs pounding across the sand, propelling his lean body into the waves, relishing the feel of water against his skin as he swam out to the breakwater and back.

I would sit on the beach and watch, trying hard not to count the minutes until we could leave. Despite wearing a hat, shirt and trousers, my pale skin always managed to blister, somewhere.

"Come on, Jay," he'd call. "It's beautiful, once you're in!"

"I'm fine where I am!" I'd answer, smiling.

Then he'd come out of the sea, breathless and dripping water and fling himself down on the towel beside me. "That was wonderful," he'd murmur, soaking up the sun. His hand would reach out to take mine, holding it tight until he slowly relaxed his grip, drifting off into a light doze. That was always the best moment of the day.

And then had come the bombs, poisoning the air and driving us all into underground shelters. Reports claimed over 90% of the world's population had been wiped out in those first few days; before communications shut down entirely. Crowded into bunkers, suicide levels were high as survivors struggled to cope with the horrific fallout, but those who were left, gradually found themselves adapting as humans did so often to a changing environment.

We got used to living underground, never seeing the sky or a tree or a bird. Many seemed to have forgotten those things had ever existed.

But today—I'd made up my mind—Tony and I were going to the beach.

I dressed carefully in my shirt and trousers, put a hat on my head and picked up a blanket for us to sit on.

I had no idea what I would find when we went outside, but I'd borrowed one of the trolleys used to cart goods around, to carry our things. Luckily the beach was close—or it had been, as far as I could remember.

"Ready, love?" I asked Tony.

It was a steep walk up to the surface, through numerous airlocks, but eventually we got there. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

The beach had come to us. Dirty white sand stretched for hundreds of metres and I could just see a glimpse of grey water in the distance. I didn't look too hard at the ruined buildings.

A hot wind blew in our faces. I took a few steps toward the sea but my feet sank into the sand. "I think this is as far as we can go."

I spread the blanket and sat down. At least we were outside, in the sun, in sight of the sea. Tony lay face up, and I stretched out beside him on my back.

"Here we are, love. Our last day at the beach." Tears ran silently down my cheeks as I gripped his dead hand.

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