Opening her eyes, Jessiesmiled. This was perfect—a little nap on the beach. She could feel the sand through the thin fabric of her skirt and top, warmed by the evening sun. Closing her eyes again, she listened to the shouting and laughter from further along the beach, muffled by the sound of the waves lapping up the sand.
Every now and then, she felt the cool of water surrounding her feet. She really should move higher up the beach—the tide must be coming in.
Her sandals! She’d kicked them off before lying down. They had been lying near her feet. Sitting up, she looked around. Where were they?
There. She could see the yellow of the straps in the water, dipping and rising on the gentle waves. Shaking her head, she rolled her eyes. She must have been asleep for longer than she’d thought. Standing up, she began wading into the shallow waters. They’d only been a pair she’d picked up from the charity shop, but they were the comfiest she’d ever owned.
What was that, bobbing up and down next to them? It looked like her... No, she’d dropped her suitcase further up the beach. She was sure she had. Glancing back at the sand where she’d been lying, she swallowed. It was. The brilliant purple thing floating ahead of her was the familiar purple plastic casing of her suitcase.
Pausing, she glanced from her sandals to her suitcase and back again—the yellow strap of one of her sandals sank beneath the surface, shortly followed by the other one. She was knee deep in the water now. It was a wonder they’d bobbed up and down for this length of time.
Shaking her head, she focused on her suitcase. She couldn’t lose that. She could cope without her comfy yellow sandals, but if she lost the clothes she’d packed, everything else...
Ducking down, she began swimming towards her case. She needed to catch up to it. She needed it.
Where had it gone? Treading water, she glanced around. There it was. It was heading towards the causeway she’d noticed earlier. The one leading to a lighthouse. If the waves battered it against the rocks, it would likely damage the outer casing, let water in and sink to the bottom. She’d never see it again. She’d be stranded here with no clothes and no train ticket home.
She reached down with her feet. If she could just kick off from the ground, she’d be able to get to it before it reached the rocks. Where was the floor of the ocean? The sand? She couldn’t be that far out. It couldn’t be that deep.
No, she was. She must be. Dipping her head below the surface, she forced her eyes open despite the sting from the salty water. It was deep. The floor of the ocean must have been about half a metre from her feet. She could probably sink enough to kick off from it, though. For the first time in her life, she was grateful for the forced early Saturday mornings of her childhood. Maybe the swimming lessons her parents had made her attend wouldn’t be for nothing after all.
Holding her head above the water again, Jessie took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the warm air. She’d just have to reach for her suitcase without a quick start. Just as she began propelling her arms forward, something caught her attention. There were two people on the causeway. They were waving and shouting something at her.
She tried shaking the water from her ears, but it was no good. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she noticed they were holding her suitcase and pointing towards the beach. Perfect. They’d rescued it.
Spinning in the water, she began swimming back towards the sand. It was probably a good thing they’d managed to retrieve it. She hadn’t swum for years and even though she wasn’t too far from land; she was certainly feeling it in her arm muscles.
Jessie breathed a sigh of relief as her feet made contact with the sand and she hurried out of the sea and towards the couple who had rescued her suitcase. ‘You rescued it! Thank you! Thank you so much!’ Pausing, she wrung out her long skirt before running the last couple of metres towards them.
‘No worries. Is everything okay?’ Seawater dripped from Jessie’s suitcase before being quickly absorbed into the sand at the woman’s feet.
‘Yes, yes. Well, it was until I woke up and saw my suitcase floating away from me.’ Jessie reached out and took it from the woman. ‘It serves me right, really. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep so close to the sea.’
The woman glanced at the suitcase. ‘Whereabouts are you staying? Do you need any help?’
‘Oh, I’m staying at some bakery. The only problem is, I got the dates muddled up and I only realised on my way down here. I’m supposed to be arriving next week, not today.’ She scrunched her hair, drops of water falling onto the sand beneath her. She’d been so desperate to get away from her parents’ house where she’d been living for the past eight months and even more desperate to get away from her sister and all the baby talk, that she hadn’t even checked her email until the train ride down to Cornwall. She really needed to start being more organised—she’d always prided herself on her organisation skills, but lately... She shook her head. Hopefully, this break away would help.
‘The Cornish Bay Bakery, by any chance?’
‘Yes, that’s the one. Do you know it?’
‘Yes, I do. I work there.’
‘Oh, lovely to meet you. I’m Jessie.’ Jessie held out her hand.
‘Pleased to meet you, Jessie. I’m Brooke and this is Max.’
‘Sorry.’ Jessie nodded towards Brooke’s hand before she turned to Max. ‘I won’t shake yours until I’ve dried.’
Holding his hand up in a wave, Max grinned. ‘Good to meet you.’
Jessie waved too. Was that a plastic dinosaur he was holding? A T-Rex, by the looks of it. ‘Likewise. Do either of you know where I can find a Bed and Breakfast for the week, please?’
Brooke looked at Max before turning back to Jessie. ‘Look, we’re just having dinner at the lighthouse with some family. Why don’t you come in and dry off, then I’m sure we can sort something out? Elsie’s there. She owns the bakery.’
‘Oh really? Are you sure no one will mind me turning up like this?’ She hitched up her wet skirt. ‘I really don’t want to put anyone out.’