Wet sand splattered me right in the face, as I managed to watch, by cricking my neck from this prone position, unknown feet quickly run off, towards where I remember the direction of the sea. There was not much I could do as my family had buried me good and proper and now gone off for ice creams. I hoped they would remember to get me one.
Only my head and one hand were unburied. All I could see was the sky.
“You dead?” I heard a voice. Sounded like another child. Not one of my own children. I couldn’t crick my neck far enough to see who it was.
“I’m certainly not dead,” I said, spitting some of the wet sand in the process. “Do you know who just threw sand in my face?”
“You are dead,” the same voice said.
“I’m not dead. How can I be dead when I’m answering your questions? And why are you asking questions of a dead man, anyway?”
“He’s dead!” was now shouted as if calling to other people nearby.
I heard running footsteps, gradually getting further away. I heard a vague shouting in the distance, and this was a man’s, about calling the police. A woman answered by asking whether everyone was sure I was dead. Or at least I think that was what she said.
It was my turn to shout now. ‘I AM NOT DEAD!”
Silence. Then just the sound of the sea. Followed by the odd calls of distant excitement by those people who must have been playing in the sea.
I wondered how I was so firmly embedded in the sand. My kids could never have dug so deep with their cheap spades. And my wife would never have allowed it, even if they could.
With quiet desperation, I gritted my teeth. And I shouted again: this time with the simple word HELP. But it did not come out as clearly as I intended. It sounded muffled, clogged; it didn’t in fact sound like my voice at all.
“We got you an ice cream, Dad.”
That as the next thing I heard. A surge of relief. Except I suddenly realised I didn’t really recognise the voice. And then another splatter of wet sand stinging my face, and the sound of running feet again. Feet running in the sand, I suddenly thought would be too quiet to hear.
Then I heard them running back. Even more loudly. As someone inserted the end of an ice cream cone into my clenched fist. And all I could still see was the sky. I sighed with relief, as I waited for them to undig me. Cricking my neck in order to see what flavour they’d given me.