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The Good Stuff
Short Story
by Rebekah Lyell
Length: 1,547 words

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Prepare to cry and laugh out loud and feel good all over with "Letters to Michael"

Letters to Michael
(A visionary novel)

What can heaven do?

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My Place of Tranquillity

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Making Decisions

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Future Choices

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Countless infinitesimal glittering diamonds sparkled from the sea like an iridescent paua, swirling in a multitude of colour. The soft breeze hugged the coastline, caressing the bright red flowers sprinkled amongst the pohutukawa's crop of shiny green hair. Skipping over the top of the bush, it climbed the incline seeking out the family that had just poured out of the car. It curled its fragile fingers around her hair, lifting and knotting the long strands with ease. She wrestled with its grip, struggling to tame her hair, ensnaring it into a dark baseball cap.

The warm globe, suspended in the effortlessly blue sky, hugged her long exposed legs and sent shards of light cascading from the dark black shades nestled upon her face. Turning her head from the flaking Department of Conservation sign towards the gentle curve of the bay she prepared to enter the realm of Tane Mahuta, in the desire to get to the sparkling jewels of the sea. 

Gravel crunched under her shoes, the path winding around roots of tall majestic kauri and bright yellow trumpeting kowhai. The air dripped with the sweet nectar of native bird song, pierced occasionally with the shrill sound of cicadas, basking on the limbs of the trees. Fantails flittered through the greenery, tuis’ cocked their embellished throats, white pearls snuggled under their chins. An eerie tranquility pervaded, the heavy breath of nature lingering in the air. Although she was in the shade the heat was almost unbearable, her shirt beginning to cling to her. Stumbling over truant roots, she kicked up small clouds of debris in her rush to reach the other end.

Her brother swept past her, trailing a blaze of colour behind him, his friend following with various cheerful bright plastic toys clanging with every step. Glancing up briefly, she saw the light at the end of the tunnel glowing brightly, and then saw it disappear as she fell to the ground. She hit the disturbed gravel heavily and was relieved to discover no one was near to see her. She crouched and pulled her laces tight, confusing them by retying them in large floppy bows. They strangled her feet, but she was desperate not to let them have the chance of holding her back from the treasure she sought. 

She kept on, leaning down to wipe the fragments of gravel and leaves embedded in her knees. Her brother’s excited voice floated back to her enticing her around the corner. The bush began to allow more light in, but still kept the jewel it was guarding a close secret. She sped up, hearing the sound of waves, desperate to reach the sparkling gem. 

Before her spread the vast golden sand, the sea slathered across the bones of the earth, breathing in and out in a hypnotic trance. She drank in the view greedily, jealous that anyone else should savour a taste of this concoction of paradise and heaven. The sneakers came off, lying discarded, tongues lolling in the basking sun. Her brother and friend stood by the shore, ballooning pants dwarfing their skinny legs. Their kingdom lay at their feet, surrounded by a salt water moat. The castles crumbled, the seashell windows barely clinging to the sand walls. Sticks in long straight lines showed the boundaries of the town, rudimentary fences that marked out farms populated by rock animals. 

Her hot feet sizzled as she stepped into the water, the salt stinging the cuts on the soles of her feet. She waded along the beach, rising to her tippy-toes as small waves washed up her legs. She reached the end of the beach, to the large rocks that stood as silent sentry, observing the action taking place along the gentle curve of sand.

Across the rocks she slipped, using both hands and feet to cling to the surface. She peered into the rock pools, seaweed swaying as the tide rushed in and out. Tiny shrimp darted between the shadows, anemones shying from the attention. A lone starfish relaxed on the bottom. Its rough skin sandpapering her hand as she lifted it out of the water, examining it closer. Water dripped from her hand, ripples scattering and causing mini tidal waves as they crashed into the rocks. Seagulls screamed as they soared on the breeze, gannets dive bombed, breaking the sea surface with an almighty crash to be rewarded with a slimy fish, enough to sedate their grumbling stomachs. She watched the fish through the crystal clear water. Their scales flashed like living moving Christmas lights with each turn of the compass. North and they looked pink, east brought a vivid jade green, south a blaze of red, west and they vanished, morphing into the colour of their surroundings in a last ditch attempt to evade their hunters..

She stood and gazed at white ghostly triangles far away, gliding across the horizon, carrying their crew to distant far away shores. Tiny islands dotted the seascape, a welcome resting stop for birds carried too far by the wind. Hearing shouts of glee from the beach, she looked up. Dolphins sliced the sparkling water with relative contentment. Kayakers passed her, bright orange lifejackets sending a garish glare onto the water following the soft wake of the graceful ballerinas that carved an invisible path through the bay. 

She continued on again, around the corner of the bay, away from ever watchful eyes. Her curiosity urged her around the corner, wanting to know what was there. The sight that awaited her was worth scrambling over the rocks and roasting under the suns hot eye. A tiny bay, with golden sands beckoned her. She ran with excitement, and felt her spirit soar as her first, maybe even the first, footprint was pressed into the sand. Steep cliffs encaged the bay, the dark orange clay groaning under the weight it was bearing on its shoulders. Long slender nikau palms stretched for the clouds, their red berries, like rubies, glistening at the décolletage.

She lay on the hot sand, worshipping the sun. White horses raced across the sky, spurred on by the wind. A jet ski powered into the cove, pestering her senses like a mosquito on a hot still summer’s night. The resulting waves crashed onto the sand, eroding the tiny fossils that had spent a lifetime amassing there in a matter of mere seconds. Eventually the peace overcame her again, and her mind drifted far away. The stresses of everyday life washed away, draining into the earth and sea, ebbing away into the depths of the deep blue ocean. 

A dog yelped, scrabbling over the rocks, the noise striking her with such intense force as she stumbled back into reality. The owner smiled and waved, yelling out apologies and something about the weather. She smiled back and realised with a startle that the tide had crept up on her, the shadows had lengthened. She stood, shaking the sand from her body, and straightening her clothes. Sweeping the hair off her face, she tucked it back into her baseball cap that had previously been employed as her pillow. Turning her back on the bay, she found a rudimentary track around the periphery of the native bush, balancing precariously on the cliff between land and earth. 

Coming around the corner and into the main cove, she observed her brother and his friend had abandoned their kingdom, now reigning over thick half circles of watermelon. Their chins stained red, fingers sticky, small pips spat onto the ground. Her Mum held out a large chunk for her, a welcome cocktail of food and drink. They sat in silence, each captured by different viewpoints and ideals of the same place. 

In serene silence they sat as the sun sunk lower, bruising the sky with a warm concoction of orange, red and pink. They packed up, the buckets and spades, watermelon skins, towels and wet togs bundled into a heap and placed in Dad’s arms. She replaced her sneakers and ran up the hill, ducking briefly off the track to let tourists past, nodding in acknowledgment. Puffing she sprinted the last metres of the track, bursting into the open breeze again. Hearing her brother sneaking up behind her she took off, slapping her hand against the hot metallic body of their car, beating him, just. After waiting impatiently they poured into the car, hot air joyfully escaping the confines and intermingling with the cool sea breeze. She winced as the hot leather seats seared her limbs, but did not move, the heat cocooning her.

The engine wheezed into action, she pulled her snakelike seat belt across her chest, letting the buckle devour it. She elbowed her brother as he encroached onto her side of the car, and moaned when he announced a new round of ‘corners’. While he and his friend slammed all their remaining energy into her side, she watched the beach disappear behind an ever thickening blanket of bush and houses with occasional holes punched into it, allowing her fleeting glances of the sea, knowing that soon it will completely vanish from her view. The tranquil beauty and pacifying effect would replay over and over in her mind, until next weekend anyway, when once again, she could surrender herself to the allure of the beach.

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 Murawai Beach, New Zealand
Murawai Beach, New Zealand
Torckler, Darryl
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