Ebb Tide by Sherri Turner

Sometimes she remembers the swimsuit being green, old-fashioned ruched cotton, sandy round the bottom. Other times it is mustard yellow or blue.

Sometimes the sun is so bright she has to hold her hand across her brow to peer down the beach. Or it is brooding, about to rain, maybe a thunderstorm coming.   

Sometimes there is a long plait down the girl’s back, held at the bottom with a black bobble. Or the bobble is in the sand. Maybe not even her bobble. Maybe not black.

Does the strap break? Do the knotted ends loosen as she grabs them, just enough to ease free? Does she catch it in time? Sometimes she does. Other times hands slip, fingers don’t quite meet.

Sometimes there is screaming.

Sometimes she remembers retching, the saltwater scouring her throat, on her hands and knees in the sand like a dog. Not always. Sometimes she carries the limp form herself, other times a man does it while she pukes. She doesn’t know who the man is, or was.

Sometimes she smells the ozone, feels the adrenaline and the pumping of her thighs, tastes the vomit and the relief. Sometimes she remembers and is proud. Other times she just smells cabbage and wonders how she got here.

Sometimes, on the anniversary, she remembers who the card is from. Sometimes she doesn’t. But, somehow, it always makes her smile.

Biography: Sherri Turner has had numerous short stories published in magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories in competitions including the Bristol Prize, the Wells Literary Festival and the Bridport Prize. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies and in various places online. She tweets at @STurner4077.

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