I jumped from one foot to the other onto the soft warm sand from the top of a grassy mound and ran onto the beach, my little brother sprinted past me to the ocean line and I followed him over. We stand there together with the luke warm water lapping at our feet. My little brother is 3, he fidgets with his toes in the water for a second and he runs off in the other direction while I stand and look out to the ocean. To the right sits a little island, it sat there beckoning me to its adventure, sandy, inviting with forest of dense bushland in the center. Thats where we are going.
The idea excites me beyond belief, this place, a tiny island perfect for a curious almost 5 year old girl. The things I imagined that could fill that island, crocodiles, ponies, fairies, my heart just about leapt from my little chest.
“Nika!” called my mum, she was walking up the beach and I’m lagging behind, I push my blonde scraggly hair from my face and dart up the beach to her and my little brother. I walk alongside her as she occasionally calls out to my little brother when he runs too far.
He would come back and then dart back off up the beach within seconds of returning to us with his white blonde hair bouncing as he ran.
Minutes later a little bit up from where we walked my brother had stopped suddenly, he was watching something that looked to us from where we were to be discoloured sand.
We came up beside him and watched in fascination at the sand, where across it ran hundreds of tiny little blue crabs. It was almost pretty, the way they all scattered across the beach, blocking us from the part of the beach we needed to go.
“We will just have to run across, they won’t get you.” Mum says to us.
I hesitate and watch her face to make sure she’s kidding. She’s not.
I don’t run, I stand there and watch her as she takes off and runs across the field of teeny blue legs and bodies who scatter and sway like a flock of birds in migration in the sky.
I am still. I’m standing on the other side, just dying to get to the busy little island filled with everything I could ever imagine. But first I knew, I would have to run, run as fast as I could across this sea of pincers. My little brother stood by my side waiting for me to take lead.Mum stands on the other side a mere 200 meters away shouting at us, “go, go, go!”
I rub my face with my palm because I don’t know if I can. My brother looks at me, as if hes waiting for something , his cheeks are red and sweaty from the heat of the late Queensland summer.
I take off. And I run. I run screaming like I never had before across the beach. The crabs part making way for me to place my tiny tip toed feet, I am bounding through as my brother runs up past me, squealing and giggling, giddy with his own 3 year old excitement.
We make it across completely unscathed.
And I’m a little bit proud.
The Island sits a short 100 metre wade across the river from us, and we watch on while mum searches for the most shallow part for us to cross. The water has become deeper since the tide has come in; in the mere 20 minutes we’ve been here.
I can tell mum isn’t sure if we should cross. She tells us we can’t cross, so we stand on the water edge. We watch the water rise and become rougher and rougher, seeming to become even more and more murkier and brown as it rises.
I am standing on the edge of the water when the sand beneath my feet falls away as the tide creates mini cliff faces in front of us. The sun is setting and I look out to the sky, its a calming and glowing soft red, casting the warmth across our bodies, mum stands watching it alongside me. When I look past her up the river I can see something floating down the river towards us, at walking pace.
It’s a woman, floating on her back, she doesn’t move, her head is lying back with her brown hair sprawled out around her head. As she glides past I realise she is floating on something.
She is peaceful, calm and floating on a flat bed of red bricks.
Up until a few years ago I thought this happened. I always had thought that this was real. It wasn’t. It’s one dream that I had as a child before my abuse began that really stuck with me. A few years ago I asked mum about it, she told me we did go there once, the crabs are real, the island was real and we ate oysters and crossed the river and even the woman was real but the woman was never floating on the bricks. That part was the dream I had.
I think of the dream all the time. It visits me in times when I am struggling and when I try to think of a time that I was truly happy as a child.
It came to me again today.
Maybe even though things are hard for me right now (and they could be hard for you right now) I think this dream means that we will float above the heavy things eventually, you and I will stay above them ever so slightly. Eventually.
Just like the woman floating on the red bricks.