by Lucy Cuthew

There’s only the sea,
the hot chips and me.
No boy on the beach.
No dog in the sea.

No kite in the wind.
The chips were for him
but he’s nowhere around
so I sit on the ground
and fend off the seagulls who dive at my lap
and the bin overflowing with cardboard and crap.

Forks and white paper spill onto the sand
and a gull flies so close that it touches my hand.
I scare it away then I pick up a chip
and it slips in the dip
and I wonder
if seagulls have cause to ponder
the slippery nature of trying to be
both tethered and free.

That is my shame.
I won’t put a name
to the truth that’s within
but now I’ve lost him.

The sea beside me
is glistening widely
with generous light that shines up with a glow,
though the fish down below
might take issue with me
for my limited view of the world I can see.

The wind picks up speed
and it ruffles my hair
and a stray strand or two gets stuck in my mouth
where the taste of shampoo
mingles with salt from the air and the food.

Then I see his dog running wild on the beach.
You beautiful beast!
His fur slinking down from his head to his tail.
He runs up to me and sniffs at my soul
and takes me in whole
and tells me so freely
that I can just be me.

And finally I see the boy on the beach,
he’s way up ahead and he’s facing away
but the spirit of dog
makes me take a light jog
and I call out loud ‘Hey’.

The dog’s running fast now
and I know that somehow
this is the key
to making me free
so I run to the boy
standing down by the sea.

Then over the din
of the roar of the wind
I put the right words to the feeling within
so that meaning is flowing from me into him.

‘You can be you
and I can be me,
and as long as we have that
we both can be free.’

He opens his bag and he takes out the kite
and the strings are all tangled,
but we both delight
in the plight
of the flight
of a tangled up kite.

We take one handle each and we wiggle and turn,
winding the string
into the wind.

Then two pairs of eyes
watch in surprise
as our brand new red kite
rises into the skies

tethered and free,
like him and me.

Lucy Cuthew | @lucycuthew

Lucy Cuthew is an editor and author of children’s books. She was shortlisted for the prestigious Booktrust Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for her acheivements as a young woman in publishing. Her picture books have been nominated for several awards. She is currently writing a young adult novel called Horrible Love Story. Her first short story, ‘The Waiting Room’, was published in January of last year. She works from a studio in Cardiff.

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