Michael Atherton stood on a lonely stretch of beach looking out to sea.
It was a cold March day on the Isle of Skye and so not many people were prepared to brave the chilly winds, despite the clear skies.
The beach was a relatively unknown beauty spot. The sand was composed of creamy white pieces of shell and coral. It was like a beach you could find on a Caribbean island, although without the tourists enjoying the sun and drinking rum cocktails. In this lonely part of the world, it was only what you could call busy on an August Bank Holiday weekend, and only then if it didn’t decide to rain.
He had chosen this spot because of its remoteness. He had come here on his honeymoon with Sandra. They had been so happy then. They had stayed in Portree, the capital of the island. They had explored the island, mainly on foot, during the day and each other at night.
Now seven years later he was back; the spot looked exactly the same, but his life was now totally different. Sandra was now living with Sean and they were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce which included a custody battle for their two boys, just six and three years old. How had it all come to this, when it had started out so well?
As he contemplated his life he watched the sea rolling up onto the beach, bringing with it some froth, like the top of a cappuccino. He stood there staring for some time wondering whether, now he was faced with it, he would have the courage after all.
He’d left the note in his flat in Edinburgh, not far from the home he’d been thrown out of. The lovely Victorian terrace in Morningside, near the hospital where both Sandra and he worked. Or had until he’d lost his job.
The plan had seemed so good last night. It would guarantee something for his sons when they were old enough. He’d left them a video recording and a letter explaining everything.
There wasn’t anything left to do now.
His clothes were piled neatly folded under a gorse bush.
He thought how life and happiness was so much like that froth the sea brought in. Here one minute, then gone the next.
Then he heard the sound of a car pulling up by the road. The car doors slamming as people got out and the sound of the bushes as people pushed through them.
Then someone calling his name. Unbelievably it was Sandra.
“Michael, Michael! Thank God you’re still here. I was so frightened we’d be too late. I knew you’d come here, as soon as I read the note. I had gone to see you to tell you I don’t want to fight anymore, that I’ll agree joint custody. The Landlady said I’d just missed you.”
Michael collapsed into tears. Laying naked on the beach, he cried at the thought of what he had planned to do. He cried at the thought that he had been stopped and the pain of life will continue.
“I’ve brought help with me Michael, you will need help to get better again. I promise I won’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be in future. It will be easier from now on.”
A large man in a police uniform came forward and covered him in a foil blanket.
A lady with a soft voice spoke to him. “Mr Atherton, my names Lucy, I’m from the Samaritans, we’ll look after you. Come with us.”
As Michael was led away he looked out to sea once more. Strange how one location could be the site of so much happiness and also so much sorrow, he thought to himself.
The tide was ever flowing onto the shore and just like life, it goes on.
Copyright Kristian Fogarty 11/April/2018