A Beach At Midnight

“10, 9, 8...” the countdown began. “7,6,5...” I watched the huddle of tourists gathered on the sand in amongst blankets and unused party poppers. The chanting became louder and pulsed through the night air like the throb of a heart. Finally they reached “1” and the group erupted in a burst of cheering and laughter.
“Well that’s another year gone.” I muttered to the mutt next to me, rubbing his favourite spot just above his tail. He rolled over to reveal his belly that was now matted with sand. The crowd began to point and I could just hear them “oohing” and “aahing” in unison, the same way that all the travellers did each year when they congregated on my beach. They came to watch the renown fireworks, that were now exploding through the black veil of night above them.
This happened every year, they would come in their droves with their flip flops and fold-up camp chairs and tramp through the bushland that hid this place from the rest of the world. They would sit in anticipation waiting for the fireworks. Once that was over they would hang about for another half an hour getting as drunk as possible on the small supply of alcohol they brought with them. At last they would swagger off back through the partially destroyed bushland and the beach would belong to me and my mutt, Sandy, once more.
I tore myself from my reminiscing to continue observing. The group had settled down to their alcohol completely unaware that they were being watched. Tourists came and went but I could never quite figure out whether they were unable to see me through their drunken haze, or if they simply chose to ignore the strange little shadow that they passed each year.
Gradually the crowd dispersed and I was alone on my beach. I stood up and wandered over to the place where the tourists had been, where a few empty bottles and remnants of party poppers lay partly submerged in the sand. I collected up most of the litter and tossed it into the undergrowth at the edge of the bushland. This year’s group weren't as bad as usual, they seemed like hippies, you know, the tree hugger type. Maybe they had more respect for the land than others. I positioned myself on the ground and surveyed the beach for my companion. A long stretch of sand lay before me, at the far end of it a shadow cast by the moon bobbed along, gradually moving towards me. Attached to this shadow I saw the mutt camouflaged against the sand. He ran to me and nudged up against my leg. Laying back I listened to the calming sounds of the ocean and let the waves wash over my feet. Seagulls glided above the water like paper kites against the darkness, their doubles floating lazily on the mirror below them. I closed my eyes. With the tourists gone this part of the world was as it should be once more...until next year.


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