I smiled and took a deep breath, inhaling the salty air. I closed my eyes, and just for a moment I was one with the sea, sailing through the air on the white-tipped waves

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I walked up the sandy footpath through the dunes, scuffing the dry ground with my toes. The sun blazed down making the bronzed ground shimmer like a pool of gold. The salty tang from the sea lingered on my tongue. The dry grasses and scrub growing in clumps alongside the path rustled softly in a gentle breeze, whispering in secret tongue, and a small clod of sand skittered forward, tickling my bare ankles.

A few yards up, the sloping path levelled and then dropped, a steep bank of golden grains, and suddenly, like a magician waving his wand, the glittering expanse of the sea was spread out in front of me, an azure shimmering sheet. The wind whipped my loose hair around my face and my long light skirt billowed out. Yachts danced on the blue horizon, their bright sails like beacons on the waves. Below me, on the beach, deckchairs and umbrellas stood out boldly from the endless stretch of gold, and little matchstick people ran laughing and screaming through the sand with buckets and spades and inflatable dinghies. Others were stretched out on towels, hats balanced over their eyes, and suntan lotion to hand. Children splashed happily in the shallows, tossing handfuls of sun-warmed water over each other, and diving under the surface to search for treasure. Most people were simply sitting in their deckchairs, staring peacefully out at the limpid waters, still marvelling at its beauty. Something I marvelled at every second of my life.

I smiled and took a deep breath, inhaling the salty air. I closed my eyes, and just for a moment I was one with the sea, sailing through the air on the white-tipped waves, and crashing on the shore in a rush of breathing blue jewels.

I'd always loved the ocean, since the day I was born. I'd lived by its shores all of my life, and still I could wonder at its mystery and its beauty. Back when I was a child, I marvelled at its sheer size and how, on a clear day, you could barely tell where the waters ended and the sky began. When the thunder rolled and the lighting crashed I'd run out into the blinding rain, and run up the water-clogged footpath, splashing through the wild streams that cascaded and swept down the bank. Panting, I'd reach the summit and then stand, triumphantly, on the peak of the dunes, gazing out at the crashing waves and the roaring skies, the clouds so grey they were almost black and the waves so vast that when they crashed onto the beach their spray caught me, cold and sharp and stinging my face. I'd raise up my arms and spin around, laughing, the rain in a torrent around me, and the salty spray dashing the beach. As the lightening cut through the sky in bright, jagged streaks, the cliffs would be illuminated, huge rearing shapes, even blacker than the sky. And I would stand on the dunes, my drenched clothes sticking to my body, my chest heaving, watching the fury of the sea.
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I paused, remembering. Then I opened my eyes and looked out at the sea now, calm, warm and gentle, reflections from the yellow, lemon sun shimmering off its clear surface. I began to tiptoe down the slope, wriggling my toes as the sand flowed between them.

Then suddenly there wasn't sand beneath my feet. There was something much colder and much less stable and much darker, and as if in slow motion I fell right through the ground.

I watched the sea disappear.

My arms flailed desperately, but my hands grabbed only loose sand, ...

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