Hi everyone! This post is a little different. Inspired by my friend’s new travel blog (which you should take a look at, it’s great!) I decided to write about my first childhood holiday. I hope you enjoy it!
I was fourteen years old when I saw my first body. It was a hot summer’s day in a town called Feodosia, in Russia. I was walking along the beach by myself, angry at my parents. They had dragged me to this little seaside town in another country for two whole months. I missed my friends and comforts. I missed the Czech Republic. I wanted to be home in my own room.
I could see something in the distance. I had been walking along the beach for what felt like hours. My feet hurt, and I was about to turn back. I squinted into the sun and realised it was two shapes, one crouched over the other. I walked closer. It was a boy, and he was poking the other shape with a stick.
A few more steps. That’s all it took, and my world changed forever. I could see what it was now, and it brought all kinds of horrible sensations. First was a bubbling nausea, then a shaking in my legs and a prickly feeling. I wanted to run, but I was too scared to move.
The boy had seen me. He dropped the stick. Then he waved.
“It’s okay,” he shouted in Russian. “I called the police already. It’s okay.”
I don’t know why I walked over there. I don’t know what compelled me to go and look, to get close to this dead person. The smell mixed with the brine of the sea, sweet decay with salt. I held my hand over my mouth.
The boy was standing in orange shorts, and nothing else. He was a year or two older than me, I guessed. He had laughing eyes and a smile that made me nervous, but in a good way. I realised I was fixing my eyes on him and ignoring the corpse.
I made myself look.
It was a man wearing overalls, but this close up he didn’t look human. His face was so swollen it looked like it was made from modelling clay. His skin wasn’t any kind of normal colour. His eyes weren’t there anymore. That was the worst part.
“Sometimes they just fall off their boats,” the boy was saying. “The fishermen. I guess it’s ironic really. They spend their whole lives trying to catch the fish, eat the fish, and the fish end up eating them.”
I could hear sirens now, and the boy took my hand suddenly.
“You don’t want to be here when they come. They know me, but they will just ask you lots of questions. They don’t like foreigners.”
I didn’t ask him how he knew I wasn’t Russian. I followed him instead as he walked back the way I’d come. As we left, I turned around for one last look at the fisherman. Seagulls were circling. He lay there, still as the sand, corroding into time. At peace.