Character Blog

Tara’s Blog

The sun was shining, a lovely hot morning after days of rain, and we were off to Dorset to the beach. Even Mum had come along, and Lucy, Niamh’s friend. She was always with us. Niamh had insisted of course. I didn’t care, we could go swimming in the sea and that’s what mattered, as long as I didn’t have to babysit Lucy. But Mum would keep an eye on her.

It certainly made up for our not being able to find the gateway. We’d searched for it many times. It must be somewhere in the burial mound, but so far we had found no clue to where it could be. Then yesterday we remembered that in the story Uncle Fergus told us about the changeling baby,  the strange creature took the human baby through the gateway at Halloween. Halloween was a spooky night when strange things happen, we even saw lights at the mound every year. Yes that must be it. It might not work, but we thought it was worth a try.

But it’s a long way off…weeks away. Then it could be that we still don’t find it. Even if we did, we might discover we need some sort of key to get through. What a disappointment that would be — after all our waiting too!

Oh well, at least there’s the swimming.

Uncle Fergus drove us to a quiet cove. A place with no shops, no ice cream, but there would be more space to sit than at the bigger beaches.

We parked and unpacked our things from the car, carrying them down the path and onto the beach. A few families were already settled. Two small boys played in the sea on a rubber dinghy. It was just as I hoped…quiet.

It was a bit pebbly but there were a few patches of sand closer to the water, and Niamh and Lucy grabbed their spades and set about building a sandcastle. Mum put on a straw hat, unfolded her chair and took out her book.

‘Swim?’ asked Uncle Fergus.

I nodded and smiled. I had my swimming costume on under my clothes. We quickly undressed and ran down the beach. Uncle Fergus was ahead of me, and did a funny dance on the pebbles and then another as he waded deeper into the sea. After the first few feet it was a bit cold,  making me catch my breath, but I didn’t stop. It became a race and we laughed as we pushed through the gentle  waves. At last it was deep enough and I launched myself into a swim.

Then I was lost as I ducked and dived, gliding under the water. We took turns jumping out on one another, leaping out of the water like a couple of dolphins.

I swam further out. Aware of the strong currents, I was always careful not to go too far. Then I heard it…the shout. It was the two small boys. They’d drifted out to sea in their dinghy.

I looked towards the beach, no lifeguards. I saw two people jump up from where they’d been sunbathing. One of them rushed towards the water’s edge.

I looked at Uncle Fergus. He nodded. I was closest. I took off out to sea, swimming like a fish as fast as I could. My hands, legs and feet began to tingle with the effort. I wasn’t afraid as I knew Uncle Fergus wasn’t far behind me.

At last I reached the dinghy and saw the frightened faces of the two boys. One was crying.

I grabbed the rope and began to haul the dinghy towards the shore. Uncle Fergus soon reached me and helped. I could see Mum on the beach looking frantic, and Niamh and Lucy were waving their arms about. By now all the families had gathered in a group to watch what was happening.

A man waded into to the sea and grabbed the two boys as we reached the shallow water. He began to shout at them, but hugged them, one in each arm. A woman joined in, she was crying. The man kept thanking us.

My hands, legs and arms still tingled, they felt really funny. It must have been the shock. We made our way back to were our things lay, and sat down. Mum gave me some hot, sweet tea from a flask. Strange thing was, I didn’t feel shocked, I was excited, exhilarated even. I decided when I was older I would train to be a lifeguard, and work at it in the summer months.

‘Don’t do that again, Tara,’ said Mum. ‘You have to leave it to the coastguard. I was about to phone them when I saw you both. You frightened me. Anything could have happened…’

I looked at Uncle Fergus and grimaced…he smiled and winked. Nothing would have happened and somehow we both knew it.

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