It didn't feel right. Driving south instead of north. Something deep inside Peter wanted to yank the steering wheel around and cross the medium strip. Every fibre of his body yearned for the tall timber of the high country, the cool rain forests of his youth. The shape of the ferns with their trunks scarred with amputated limbs has always given him a sense of home.
The decision to go to the beach came one night at dinner. Matilda was talking about her friend, who always goes to the beach each summer. And then Grace reminisced about her childhood summers at the beach. These were stories Peter had never heard before. Of sunburns and body surfing and lazy afternoons watching the sun set over the water.
And that was that. They decided on the beach for this year’s holiday. Grace cancelled, for this year only, the booking at the caravan park at the foot of the mountains and found a booking in the small town she was talking of. The last booking, she told him as they went to bed a few nights later. He didn't know what to say when she told him how lucky they were.
That night, and every night since, Peter has dreamt of the beach. Of the last time he went surfing. Nineteen and fearless. He had stood up on the board for a moment before falling off. A tumble of images, bubbles, a trickle of blood streaming from the wound on his head, sunlight coming from below. Every time, he'd crash through the surface of the dream, gulping for air.
Somehow, all those years ago, he had drowned. Someone pulled him to shore, gave him mouth to mouth and helped him back to life.
Peter had vowed never to step foot on a beach again, not wanting to tempt fate.