Clare sat in the cleft between the rocks, stretching out her feet, thinking of the treats snug and secure in her bag. A cheese and onion batch, a large slice of chocolate cake, a huge family sized bag of crisps. This secret place was her favourite for eating. No one would see a crumb. She liked to sit in this little dim nook and imagine tasting everything before her fingers ever touched it.
She saw a flash of red between the dune grass at the front of her hidey-hole and frowned, shifting forwards for a closer look. It was him. He walked arm in arm with a young girl across the deserted beach. Oh no, she thought, ice in her stomach. He’s doing it again. She clamped a hand to her mouth. The couple stopped, they laughed, they threw their arms about each other in a move that looked half protective, half not. Clare cringed and gathered up her bag, almost crushing its precious cargo.
Leave them alone, a voice inside her yelled. He wouldn’t dare be with her if he were guilty. Someone might see him, even here out in the dunes where only the dog walkers ventured. What the gossips were saying were lies. Either that or they were out of their tiny minds. Just like Doug. Just like half the bay. Don’t go near the man. Don’t get his attention. She watched him take a grip on the girl’s frail arm, locking her in place as he studied her for a long drawn out second. What was he thinking? What was he imagining?
Clare wriggled free of her hiding place, snagging her T shirt as she hurried to watch. They were heading away from town. Out where the dunes crowded. She stooped low and ran after them, wishing she were thinner, faster, less of a lump of lard. She dated behind the grasses as she followed them. Straining to hear their words the breeze carried to her. Was he quoting poetry? If he was the girl was doomed.
Then she saw another figure on the beach striding towards them with more purpose than she had ever seen. Doug. Marching like a solider. Carrying something dark and shiny in his hand.
Clare held her breath.
Big Fat Lion (a real life lion.)