The Beginning ~ By The Story Collector

My god I can’t believe my life, it’s been one of those days…

Drizzle, wet pavements, jostling people enjoying the seaside, and from time to time, thick mist. So far, not a holiday to remember…

The bad weather is never ending, bad weather and too many tourists, people with their camera phones taking pictures of the mist… can that be a thing? When did this camera phone culture start? Saying that I walked past somebody using a typewriter in the rain earlier, the drizzle slightly blotting his ink. Maybe there is something in the water around here? Although I’ve always been convinced that people are slightly strange and this ridiculous holiday is certainly not going to change that conviction….

I came here to get away from the world, the trouble is the world comes with you. Even driving down I was getting emails from work. I can’t lie I hate my job. About a week ago it all got too much and I thought ‘Sod it, I need to clear my head’. I managed to wangle leave, although it seems to have only been granted in theory, as I am getting more urgent emails than I would at the office! I need to quit….. god I really need to quit my job.

Anyway, I arrived at my rental holiday retreat and as I arrived, I realised you should never book a holiday on lowest price alone.

Let me describe my holiday idyll. No, honestly, let me… The beautiful sunlight streaming through the windows in the photographs have not appeared, and the bohemian cottage, yes, that’s how it was described, is two rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, with the smallest shower/loo I’ve ever seen in my life. Every floorboard creaks, the windows rattle, and it seems to be colder inside than outside, which I didn’t know was possible. The roof doesn’t seem to keep the wind out either! I could go on about the dirty curtains, the old bedlinen, the fact the pans look 1000 years old, that there isn’t any hot water, and that the iron bed would not be fit for a mediaeval cell, but I shan’t bore you…

So anyway I am walking through the mist trying to find some inner peace, or enlightenment or something! But work texts keep putting a dent in my mood, a mood that wasn’t particularly great to start with. Back in the day, you could have gone to the grimmest of seaside towns and work would probably have to send a rider to find you, and you could hide in some Tavern, or you could pretend you have some mediaeval life-threatening disease and they would leave you alone… But those days are long gone.

My phone vibrates and as I pull it out of my pocket with anger, exhaustion and desperation, I almost lose my keys from my pocket, but instead drop my ice cream face down on the pier!

I look at my phone: ‘Hello it’s Max from work. Sorry to bother you, but can you check something over for me, it’s urgent! Hope you’re having a lovely holiday’ My heart sinks I can’t stand Max at the best of times. When I open the attachment is 27 pages… I put the phone back in my pocket… I watch a seagull savaging a leftover burger with its razor tipped beak, I visualise the burger with Max’s arrogant face on it… Then I breathe deeply and carry on down the Pier.

I look at someone with their hood up, looking at a piece of paper, just staring at it, just standing there and staring into the mist. I walk past her. People are certainly different around here…

I walk past a slot machine and watch the pennies being pushed back and forth, back and forth… I feel a bit like that sometimes. I absent mindedly take out the change leftover from the ice cream purchase and start to play, forgetting the world for a moment, and to my surprise see coins cascade! The noise from the machine seems to make the woman with the piece of paper, I walked past minutes before, incredibly animated! I start to collect my coins and now she’s running up the pier pushing people aside to get somewhere!

I half watch the woman, who looks deeply upset, maybe Max has texted her to? Then I see her stoop to pick something up off the ground, ‘You total bastard’, she screams at the sea. It must be Max I and think and almost laugh out loud.

Whatever she picked up must have cheered her up, she looks so joyful just smiling, I start to smile as well. I can’t help myself.

She starts walking down the pier and in that instant I know I’m going to speak to her.

What did you find?’ I say

The second part.’

The second part of what?’

I haven’t got time to tell you now, but there is a third part. It will be on a white piece of paper with words typed on a typewriter! Have you seen it?’

I Haven’t seen anything!’,

Well don’t just stand there, help me look for it!’

I stare at her, not quite knowing what to say. Then my phone starts ringing. I reach into my pocket and turn it off.

Where should I look?’ I ask.

And that was the beginning of the strangest year I will ever live.

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