When she was a grand total of eight years old, her grandmother took her on holiday to the seaside.


It was a wet summer, and they spent most of the week in their shabby little hotel room playing backgammon on an old, wooden board that was cracked about the edges.

The central heating was broken and the room smelled distinctly of damp, but they could see the sea from the window (beyond those dusty, yellow lace trimmed curtains), and they could hear the gulls whenever the wind died, and the way the waves turned white at the tip just before they crashed onto the smooth, shifting sands was peacefully hypnotic.

The storm calmed on their last day for an hour or two. They collected shells on the beach. She liked the ones that looked like butterflies. Her granny put a handful in an old cockles jar for her to take home. Like her grandmother, the jar would be broken within the year.

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