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Silence. The crisp sea air blew coldly against Bella’ s face and waltzed with her chestnut hair. Bella could taste the freshness in the air and could smell the fishing boats in the harbour. The sun beamed down onto Bella’s neck. Hot against her skin. The constant lapping of waves against the cliff face became incoherent to Bella, as did everything of significance. The everlastingness of the ocean and how it stretched out for miles and miles in front enchanted her.
To anybody who passed she would have looked like the model of calm. But inside she was screaming.
Bella didn’t care. She wasn’t self- conscious and couldn’t care less about how the whole world perceived her. She hadn’t for the past twenty-seven years of her life. Why should she begin now? Especially now, as she wouldn’t mind slipping from the railings and falling to the vicious waves that were already seeming to engulf her.
She could already see the headlines, “Local Girl Endures Fatal Fall is left to Mercy of Sea.” Well it would be better than an overdose in her own bathroom.
“11.30 Ferry to the Isle of Skye delayed. Now departing at 13.30. Sorry for any inconveniences this may have caused.” Whistled the tanoid disrupting Bella Rose’s silence. The woman didn’t sound pleasant at all.
“Great! Wonderful! Just marvellous!” Bella cursed, scaring off a few pigeons. She jumped off the railings and sat down on the closest bench. It was made of that white plastic that you find on patios.
The plastic was very warm, almost burning, where the sun had been beating down on it. Other than her, there was an old man sat on the other side of the bench. She hadn’t noticed him, just as he hadn’t taken much interest in her.
” I am waiting for Annie, young Miss,” the old man mumbled in a polite voice.
” Oh, right” Bella Rose panicked as his tone of voice compelled her to reply. The old man’s voiced still echoed through her head. It was like a young child who had just lost its favourite teddy bear. What else could she say to a complete stranger- even though she didn’t want to speak to him?
” She should be on the next ferry. Are you getting on the next ferry?” he asked sensing her discomfort. He was dressed smartly in a black suit with a crisp white shirt underneath. He also wore a black tie and shoes polished with the care of a mother. To Bella he looked like he was going to a funeral, as everything was immaculate even his grey balding hair. The reflection of the sun in the mans watch reminded Bell he had asked a question to her.
“Yes- I am going to the island” came her much-delayed answer.
” I’ve always found it a great place to do some thinking. Especially the place they call Restless Man’s Peak on the island’s south side,” The man stated.
“Really, that’s where I’m going,” she replied in an excited tone, ” Do you often go there to think? I do. I go there whenever there are too many thoughts in my body to digest. The peak is like a stomach that helps me digest my personal problems!”
Bella looked at him. The old man was looking towards the island, focusing what was left of his vision on the Restless Man’s peak. His eyes mesmerised Bella. If it was true what they say, your eyes mirror the true feelings of your soul; this poor man looked like he had endured a tragedy that painful it had been a continuous nightmare. But there was a glimmer of hope, in the corner of his eye, only very small, but Bella could sense the elderly man had held on to this hope for an eternity.
The old man reminded her of the Granddad she had only met in the toddler years of her life, who used to read her stories of adventure both fictional and factual from his own experiences of the war. She used to love the story of Camelot and the magic of Merlin. Her favourite character was the Lady of the Lake who enchanted her with her own personal magic and her stunning beauty- that is who Granddad said reminded him of his little Bella Rose.
“Annie….” He whispered into the floor. It seemed to Bella like a cry or a plea. This man was hurting inside.
” Is Annie your wife?” Bella asked tenderly. Yes, she felt patronising but the old man looked like a child in this poor defenceless state.
He made a weak attempt at a laugh.
” No she is my daughter,” corrected the old man. Bella’ s cheeks glowed with embarrassment.
“How old is she?” Bella asked. He didn’t seem to hear her or chose not to. Bella realised she was speaking about what must be a very sensitive and personal subject. She wanted to know more, but she didn’t push the man any further.
Suddenly, Bella had realised she had forgotten her own problems. Maybe her pain wasn’t as bad as this old mans. Talking to this elderly gentleman had certainly helped her out of her suicidal mood. She looked across the bench. The elderly man was no longer there. For some reason, unknown to her she felt hurt. She was lonely now- a feeling she often felt as a child. An ice cream from the beach with raspberry ripple sauce and a flake usually helped her about now.
As if my magic, or some telepathic ability, the old gentle man returned with two ice creams, topped with raspberry ripple sauce and a flake protruding from the two scoops of ice cream on top of a wafer thin cone. The man offered Bella one and sat down once again on the bench beside Bella.
” Thanks” muttered the mystified, not to mention speechless, Bella.
“You’re welcome. My Dear ” came the gentleman’s ever increasing polite tone. ” Ice Creams used to be my Annie’s favourite sweet after a Sunday lunch.”
Bella ate her ice cream in silence. As she licked, she became mesmerised by how spherical the scoop of ice cream was, the circle never ended, just like her problems. She felt safe like she had nothing to care about just like in her youth. But her problems flooded back to her as the old mans staring distracted her attention.
” You must excuse me staring at you like I am. It’s just that you remind me of someone I was close to in years gone by,” the man stated in his defence.
” No apology needed,” Bella replied. He must have caught her staring a thousand times now, so she felt she had no right to complain.
Suddenly, the ferry loomed over the horizon. The elderly man had bolted up to the railings before Bella had become aware of the ferry. There was an air of excitement around him. Once again, the elderly man looked like a child eagerly awaiting Santa Claus delivering his presents. What would the ship bring? The latest game console, fine porcelain china dolls, books to feed the imagination- no the greatest present this man could ask for- his daughter.
Adrenaline pulsed through both Bella’s and the elderly man’s blood as the ship came in to dock. Bella watched as the man searched thought the crowds with his elderly eyes for his daughter. It soon became obvious to Bella that his daughter wasn’t there.
” I’m so sorry.” She was devastated for him. And angry with Annie for not being there. ” I’ll wait for the next ferry to see if she’s on that, if you would like me too?”
” No My Dear, you go. I’ll be okay,” he replied.
” Are you sure?” Bella asked concerned.
” Yes I’ll be fine,” he replied still in his polite tone but not as chirpy as before.
” Good luck” they said in unison as Bella walked away. They both laughed. She could tell he was choked up with emotion. Any more time with him and Bella was positive he would burst out in tears. Slowly, they parted.
All the way there, on the ferry she thought of him. She felt sympathy and empathy for him. Her mind was filled with new thoughts. Mixed with the old thoughts Bella was light headed and needed to get up to the peak to clear her head.
The boat sailed into the dock. Soon the passengers were all on the pier huddled like cows at a cattle market. One by one the passengers went off on their separate ways and Bella was left on the pier watching the seagulls in the sky. They were heading towards the point, as was she now.
Only about a twenty-minute walk from the dock and the piers and Bella took her time making the journey last about forty-five minutes. Bella was tired of walking and sat down on the grass when she reached the top of the hill. Out of breath Bella began to relax.
Bella’s eyes spun the whole distance around her picking up every last detail. The birds were singing above her in the trees. More boats docking into the bay chugged and spurted out petrol fumes. The smell in the air was fresh and the wind had died down. She looked down at the sea and to her surprise saw three dolphins. This was the first time she had seen dolphins since she had moved back up to Scotland to live with her elderly father. They amazed her. Her gaze wandered further towards the horizon and made out a lonely figure on the piers on the coast of Scotland. The elderly gentleman.
Bella couldn’t allow herself to look at him and quickly filled up with tears of sympathy. She turned her head abruptly. Something caught her eye. Low down on the floor, just under some bramble. Inquisitively, Bella rose and moved towards the rock-like object that was about ten meters away from her.
Once she reached it she uncovered what looked like a gravestone with a little angel on top. She uncovered it and read the epitaph:
ANNIE McLaughan 1961- 1969
Sleep tight now little angel. Carry on your journey up to the kingdom of heaven. The sea might have taken your life but your soul lives on with your loving family.
Bella was shocked. ANNIE. The old man’s child. She must have drowned in the sea and died. Bella broke down into tears. Her tears pierced her face. She could have killed herself because she was so selfish. Images filled her head of the elderly gentleman constantly searching the sea for his Annie, never to find her again until it was his time to ascend to the heavens.
Bella’s imaginings were then interrupted, as the man’s face became the face of her own father. He was calling her name- Bella! She wished when she left the house that something would calm her and bring her down to reason again. The solution to her problems came to her in that instance as well as masses of tears. Bella still cried on the point. She knew that to kill her self would be foolish. She should get on with her life, enjoy her self, and make up with her father.
One word came across her lips, ” Daddy”
The sun set in the western sky. The tears highlighted on Bella’s face were now tears of hope and happiness. Her wish had come true.
Be Careful what you wish for- it may just come true…
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