MidReal Story

Whispers of the Forgotten Coast

Scenario: A dazzlingly clear morning and I am standing on a rock-strewn, deserted beach in Dorset.
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A dazzlingly clear morning and I am standing on a rock-strewn, deserted beach in Dorset.
I’m not sure why I came here.
Well, that’s a lie.
I do know why I came here, but I can’t seem to make my mind and body work in conjunction with one another.
The early morning sun is just beginning to creep its way into the sky, casting a warm pinkish glow over the sea.
It’s beautiful, but that’s not why I’m here.
I’m a photographer.
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I’m always looking for something new to photograph, something that can inspire me.
This beach is beautiful in its own right, but there’s nothing particularly special about it.
It’s just a beach—albeit a rather empty one.
I suppose that’s what attracted me to it in the first place.
There isn’t a soul in sight and, as far as I know, I’m the only person on this entire stretch of sand.
My feet sink into the cool sand as my eyes roam over the rocks and seaweed that are scattered around me.
It’s a bit of a minefield, but it’s worth it for the view that I have in front of me.
There are so many different colors in front of me, shades of blue and green all blending together into one beautiful painting that even the most talented artist would struggle to replicate.
The sun’s reflection on the water bounces off the rocks, casting shadows and creating shapes on the wet sand around them.
I raise my camera to my face and click away, desperate to capture this moment before the sun gets too high in the sky and ruins everything with its harsh light.
I’m so focused on my task that I don’t realize how far I’ve actually walked until I turn around to go back home.
My eyes widen when I see just how far away my car is.
I have no idea how long I’ve been walking for, but it must have been a lot longer than I thought.
I can still see the car park from where I am, so at least there’s that.
The gentle lapping of the waves against the shore and the sound of seagulls overhead are all that break up the otherwise silent morning.
It’s eerily quiet here at this time of day, but it doesn’t bother me.
If anything, I find it peaceful.
The seagulls squawk as they fly over my head, diving down toward the water and then back up to their nests high above me.
Every now and then they fight over a fish or crab that they’ve caught, and the sound of their wings flapping fills my ears as they try to steal it away from one another.
I tip toe over a particularly large stretch of seaweed and carry on walking down the beach.
It seems to go on forever, stretching out in front of me as far as I can see.
It’s not until you get up close and personal with all of these rocks and seaweed that you realize just how big this place really is.
It’s not a typical sandy beach like you see on those travel brochures—this place is real.
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I suppose they’re all real, but this one is different.
I walk until I can’t walk any more, my feet aching from all of the walking and my arms sore from carrying my heavy camera around with me.
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I don’t even know why I brought it with me.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it just seems like a burden.
I take a deep breath in and exhale slowly, trying to will my body to keep moving.
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I’m still not sure what I’m doing out here, but I might as well make the most of it while I’m here.
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The sun is getting higher in the sky now, casting a warm orange glow over everything in its path.
The stars are beginning to disappear, one by one, as they’re slowly swallowed up by the bright early morning light.
I watch as they twinkle down at me, sending me off on my way as I make my way back home.
I snap a few pictures just for luck before turning around and setting off toward my car.
The sun is rising now, its blinding light growing stronger and brighter as it moves higher and higher into the sky.
It’s almost impossible to look at but, for some reason, I can’t tear my eyes away from it.
The sky is changing right before my eyes, transforming from a dark black color into a lighter shade of blue.
It looks like someone has taken a paintbrush and splattered watercolors all over it—light blues and pinks all blending together into one masterpiece.
I raise my camera up to my face and snap away furiously, trying to capture this rare moment in time before it disappears forever.
This is not something you get to see every day, after all.
I watch as the colors change, growing deeper and more vibrant than they were just seconds ago.
It’s amazing how quickly it happens, how quickly everything changes when you’re not looking.
I take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth.
The cold air fills my lungs, refreshing me as I breathe it in.
I stand there for a few seconds, just enjoying this moment of peace that I’ve found.
This is what I was looking for when I came out here this morning.
I don’t know why I feel so desperate to escape everything or why I feel like I need to be alone all of the time.
It’s not like that’s how I’ve always been.
There was a time when I was happy enough around other people, when I craved their company.
But that was then and this is now.
I’m different now.
I don’t want people around me all of the time.
I’m happy enough being by myself.
A seagull squawks loudly behind me and I turn around to watch as it flies away up into the sky.
I watch as it glides around in circles, its wings spread out wide as it catches some air under them.
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I slip off my shoes and tuck them under my arm before walking down closer to the water.
The sand is nice and cool beneath my feet and I enjoy the feeling of it between my toes.
It’s not uncomfortable but not quite comfortable either.
I like walking along the sand without shoes on sometimes but there always comes a point where I start to wish that I had worn them after all.
The water is beautiful too—crystal clear and glistening in the early morning sunlight.
It looks so inviting even though I know that if I go anywhere near it then all I’m going to do is freeze my poor feet off.
The water around Dorset is always cold no matter what time of year you’re swimming in it.
That’s why there aren’t really any beaches that are super popular with tourists here.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy looking at it or walking along its shores.
The water is so clear today that I can see all of the rocks at the bottom of it quite clearly—even from where I am standing on the shore.
There are tide pools and rock formations everywhere that the sea has left behind as it has pulled back in.
That’s one of the things I love most about being here: being able to see the ocean like this.
Dorset has a lot of beautiful beaches but there’s something about this one that I love the most.
I think it has something to do with the way that the tide goes out so far—far enough that you can see all of these little tide pools and formations that the sea has left behind.
They’re so interesting and there are so many things to see in them.
I walk down the beach a little more, getting closer to the water with each step.
I’m not exactly sure where I’m going but I’m not really in any rush to get anywhere either.
The beach goes on for what seems like forever and it’s rare that you ever run into anyone here.
That’s why I love it so much.
At the end of the beach there is a large rock that sticks up out of the water like a giant middle finger.
It’s huge but not gigantic and it’s shaped in a way that makes it look almost like a sculpture—like someone came and carved it out themselves.
The rock has these intricate patterns all over its surface that was made by the sea over years and years of hitting against it.
The ocean is a powerful thing and this rock is proof enough of that.
The waves hit against its surface repeatedly, crashing into it with each new wave before sliding back down into the water again and letting another one take their place.
It sounds so beautiful when they crash against the rocks like this—like a song that was written just for Dorset.
I could listen to it forever if I had my choice but I know that there are other things that I need to do today besides sit on this beach and listen to the waves crash against the rocks.
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That’s why I pull my camera out of my bag and start taking pictures of the beautiful rock.
The morning has been so beautiful so far and I want to be able to remember it forever.
This is the perfect way for me to do that—I can just take a picture and save the memory forever.
I take a few more steps down the beach and turn my camera around so that I’m looking at the sunrise instead of the rock.
The sky is so beautiful right now with the sun coming up over the sea and I want to be able to capture that beauty with my camera too.
The sun is still kind of low right now and it’s not too bright yet which is perfect because I’m not sure that I’d be able to get a good shot if it was.
But like this it’s perfect—just what I was hoping for.
I take a few pictures and then look at them on my camera screen.
They’re really pretty but I don’t think that they quite capture how beautiful the morning has been.
That’s one of the reasons why I love taking pictures so much: you can take a picture and have it look one way on your camera screen but then you get it home and upload it and it looks completely different.
Sometimes it’s even better than you could have imagined.
I take a few more pictures of the sunrise before looking at my watch and seeing that it’s getting late.
I should probably get back home soon so that I can get ready for work.
But I’m not ready to leave yet—I’m not ready to say goodbye to this beautiful morning.
So I take a few more pictures instead, hoping that one of them will be good enough for me to hang on my wall at home so that I can look at it and remember how beautiful this morning has been.
The sun is starting to come up higher now and I can feel its warmth on my skin as I stand here taking pictures of it.
It feels nice and I want it to stay but I know that it won’t last forever.
So I take a few more pictures while I still can, trying to capture as much of its beauty as possible before it goes away.
The sound of an engine in the distance makes me look up from my camera and stare out at the water.
There isn’t supposed to be anyone out here right now—or at least, not that I know of.
Most people in Dorset don’t get up until much later than this.
So why am I hearing a boat engine?
I don’t see anything when I look out at the water but then again, I don’t really know what I’d be looking for either.
I pull my camera away from my face and look out at the sea again.
The engine is still going but I don’t see anything yet.
I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s just my imagination when I finally spot something a few yards off shore.
It’s coming closer too—nearer and nearer with each passing second.
I smile when I realize what it is.
There’s a boat coming towards the shore—a small motorboat with an outboard motor on the back of it—speeding across the water as fast as it can go.
The boat isn’t very big—it only has room for two people—but it looks like it would be fun to ride on anyway.
I wish that I were on it right now instead of sitting here on the shore where I am.
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The sound of the engine gets louder as the boat gets closer and closer to shore and I think that it’s about time for me to take a few more pictures so that I can remember this moment forever.
The boat is almost close enough for me to reach out and touch it but then it disappears from view and I can’t see it anymore.
I frown, wondering where it went.
Maybe it turned a corner and I lost sight of it because of that?
But I thought that it was coming straight towards me so I don’t understand how that could have happened.
Did something happen to it?
Is it sinking or something like that?
But then I remember that it was a motorboat and they don’t sink very easily so that can’t be what happened either.
It should still be there, somewhere, but I can’t see it anymore.
And that doesn’t make any sense.
He appears from out of nowhere, as though he were born from the sea itself, and takes his first steps on the shore like he has never done so before.
Though I am not close enough to see him clearly, there is no mistaking his shape against the brightening sky as he moves across the empty beach towards me.
Instinctively, I raise my camera and start taking pictures, using my lens as a shield between myself and this strange man who has come out of nowhere and invaded my morning in such an unexpected way.
He moves slowly but steadily across the sand, his eyes fixed on some point far off in the distance as though he were following an invisible path to some unknown destination.
He doesn’t look like he belongs here, on this empty stretch of beach that is still untouched by human feet, but rather like he has come from somewhere else entirely, a world of his own where no one else can follow him.
He is tall, with broad shoulders and a square jaw—a rugged man with a scar on his cheek who looks like he has fought more than his fair share of battles during his lifetime.
His hair is dark and wet from the sea, and he pushes it back from his face as he moves, revealing a pair of bright blue eyes that stand out against the dark color of his skin and the redness of his beard.
He is a handsome man but in a rugged sort of way that makes him look a little bit dangerous too, at least to the people who don’t know him well enough to see past the surface of his appearance to the man who lies underneath it all.
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He is getting closer to me now, but I don’t lower my camera or stop taking pictures because I am afraid that if I do, he will see me watching him and realize that he isn’t alone out here on this deserted beach that he seems to have all to himself for some reason I can’t even begin to understand.
I feel a shiver of fear go through my body as he comes closer and closer to where I am standing on top of the cliff, looking down on him with my camera in my hands, but I don’t move because I don’t know what else to do or how to get away from him when he is standing between me and the way back home with nothing more than empty space stretching out in every direction around us.
I keep taking pictures of him even though it makes no sense for me to do so because he is moving away from me now instead of closer, and it feels almost as though I am trying to hold on to something that I know will slip through my fingers no matter how tightly I try to hold on to it with my hands.
I keep watching him until he is so far away that I can’t see him anymore even though I don’t know why I am doing it or what I am hoping to find by staring after him for so long.
There is nothing there but open space between us now, the sand stretched out in an endless expanse of emptiness that is only broken by the water of the sea rushing up against the shore.
The man is gone, and there is no reason for me to stay here any longer or to keep watching for him regardless of how much I may want to.
He will never come back this way or cross paths with me again because we are strangers who met by chance on this deserted beach where neither of us has any right to be in the first place.
He is a strong swimmer.
I turn around at the sound of his voice, but there is no one there behind me.
The man has disappeared entirely as though he were never there at all except in my imagination even though I know that it can’t be true and that he must still be down there somewhere on the beach below me, watching me while I watch him.
My heart is racing in my chest, but there is no one here to see it beating this way or to care about how quickly it is going except for me.
There are only the waves crashing up against the shore below me and the sound of the seagulls crying out overhead as they circle in the sky waiting for their breakfasts to come ashore so they can pick through them at their leisure.
There is no one here but me, but it feels not at all as though it is true.
Someone saw you watching him.
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I glance over at the woman sitting a few feet away from me on the beach, but she doesn’t return my gaze.
The sun has finally cleared the horizon, and the sky has burst into flames in every color of the rainbow as the light streams outwards over the water, illuminating everything it touches and setting the beach aglow so that everything on it seems to be on fire.
It is beautiful, and I am almost finished capturing it now, but I still haven’t found the perfect shot, and I know that I won’t be able to put my camera away until I do.
I am going to keep taking pictures until I get it right, and nothing anyone can say or do will be able to stop me from doing exactly what I want to do when I want to do it.
I am an artist, and this is what I do.
You’ve been watching for hours, Lily tells me, shaking her head as she does when she doesn’t understand something or doesn’t approve of it, which happens more often than not when she talks to me.
Most people would have stopped by now and contented themselves with whatever they were able to get, but not you.
You’re like a tourist, always more interested in taking pictures of things than you are in seeing them for yourself.
You’ll never be satisfied by anything, will you?
I don’t answer her, but she isn’t expecting me to, and she doesn’t need me to either because it is a rhetorical question anyway, and she already knows what the answer is without me having to say anything at all, as she usually does.
You should get up now, Emily.
The sun has already risen, and it is a beautiful day.
You shouldn’t spend it sitting here on the beach by yourself trying to take pictures of things when you could be going out and actually seeing them instead.
Didn’t you come all this way so you would be able to see things you’ve never seen before?
I did, I tell her as I glance back down at the camera in my hands to check the settings one last time before I take another picture of the waves as they come crashing up against the shore below me.
But I came here so I could take pictures of them too.
I don’t see why I should have to choose one or the other when I can have both if I want them.
The sand slips out from underneath me as I step back so that my foot hits the tripod lying on the ground behind me, and I lose my balance so that I fall backwards onto the beach with a thud as my camera falls out of my hands and bounces off my chest before coming to rest in the sand next to me where the waves are already washing over it.
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I don’t know how you manage to make even walking look so complicated, Lily says as she reaches a hand down to help me to my feet.
I don’t think it should be possible for anyone to fall down as much as you do, but somehow you always manage to find a way to do it anyway.
I reach a hand out to push her away from me as she tries to pull me up from the ground, but she is stronger than she looks, and she is already pulling me up so that my feet are no longer on the ground by the time my hand reaches her shoulder.
I’m a photographer, I tell her, trying to sound as if falling down is a necessary part of my job rather than something that just happens to me all the time because I am clumsy, which, in fairness, it is.
It’s important to get pictures of things from all angles, you know.
You wouldn’t understand that because you aren’t a photographer like me, but you would if you were.
I’m not sure that’s true, Lily says, shaking her head at me.
But you’d better go check your phone.
It’s been buzzing like crazy ever since you started taking pictures of the sunrise, and it sounds like it’s about ready to walk down here and beat you over the head if you don’t answer it.
I’m taking a time lapse, I say in my defense even as I reach into the pocket of my jeans to check it all the same, and I set it up to run for half an hour, which means that it won’t be done until long after my phone has stopped buzzing, so I won’t be able to answer it even if I want to.
Lily is right though, and as soon as I pull it out of my pocket, it starts buzzing in my hand again, just like she said it would, as a dozen or more notifications flash up on its screen to show me what she has been doing on social media while we have been sitting here on the beach together, even though she isn’t supposed to be on her phone right now because she is supposed to be looking at things and experiencing them with her own eyes instead.
She doesn’t seem to care about that though, and as soon as she sees me looking at it, she says, Don’t worry about your phone, Emily.
You’re probably right, Lily says.
But it seems like your camera is always your first priority these days, and I’m not sure how much longer you’ll be able to call yourself a close second before you have to settle for being a very distant third or fourth or fifth instead.
Maybe you should go change your relationship status on Facebook so that all of your friends will know that you’re not a single woman anymore and that you’re actually in a committed relationship with your camera instead.
I’m not in a committed relationship with my camera either, but at least it isn’t going to object when all of my friends start to stalk me online and leave nasty comments about me if they don’t like something they see.
I’m not sure about that myself, Lily says.
But if you’re sure that’s true and you don’t want to change your status after all, maybe you should just go back to your camera instead so that we can both enjoy our day while it lasts.
You did promise me that you would get up early so that we could go out and do things together this morning, and it’s already almost ten o’clock now anyway.
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Maybe you should just go take some pictures of the sunrise by yourself instead so that you can get it over with before it’s too late, and all of the other tourists arrive and ruin it for you.
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There’s no need for that, Lily, because it’s already too late, I say, even as I pull the camera away from my face and turn it off so that I can see her better instead, and discover that the sun has already risen above the horizon while we were talking about it, and that all of the best colors have gone now, and that there is nothing left except for a yellow glow on the water, and a few streaks of pink and orange on the clouds overhead, which are starting to fade away even as we speak, and will be gone again before we know it.
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It was a beautiful sunrise though, and even though it’s too late for us to take any pictures of it now, we still had a good time sitting here on the beach together and watching it happen anyway, even if you did fall asleep at one point and miss the best part while you were waiting for it to start, and then tell me off when it did.
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I didn’t tell you off about anything, Emily, and you know that, Lily says as soon as she’s stopped laughing again, and has managed to catch her breath after all of the gymnastics stunts she was doing while she was talking, and has finally gotten herself under control again so that we can have a proper conversation instead, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a very serious one at first when she sees what kind of expression is on my face right now.
And you did promise me that you would get up early so that we could go out together this morning, and take some pictures while all of the other tourists were still asleep in bed or eating their breakfasts or getting ready for the day ahead instead, so you really shouldn’t be angry with me for wanting you to keep your word and not change your plans while you were waiting for them to arrive after all.
I’m not angry with you, Lily, but I am a little bit worried about you instead, because I still don’t know why you’re here in the first place, even though you told me that you were coming to Dorset to go exploring with me, even though I can see that you’re not wearing the right clothes for it now, despite what you were saying earlier, and that you don’t really want to be doing anything else except for lying around in the sun instead, even though you keep telling me that you do.
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I still don’t get why you came on vacation when you have so much work to do back home in the city, especially when all of your friends are there right now, and all of your family too, even though they don’t live there anymore, so you won’t even be able to see them while you’re away, and that it will probably be really difficult for you to do anything else except for spending your time checking your phone instead.
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