P:O.V. No.3

The Beach

by Frances Edmond

February 1994
First Draft
Registered: New Zealand Writers' Guild

Watching from the sea, which is an intense blue/green in the hot afternoon summer sun, an underwater view of children's energetic legs, dancing, leaping, splashing in the water, on the sand. Legs everywhere; small round pudgy 2 year old ones, sturdy solid 5 year old ones, firm lean 9 year old ones. A pair of hairy male legs running with the children. A ball landing in the water hands and bodies reaching, falling, clutching at the ball. Shrieks and cries of delight, thuds of feet, splashes of water, slap and bump of the ball.

An elderly couple, in sunhats and bare feet walk into the background of this scene, observing the game indulgently but from a safe distance. They continue their wandering progress along the beach. The camera follows them. It becomes a roving eye that sees but does not evaluate. As it follows the elderly couple the light gradually changes from the vividness at the water's edge. Away from the water the intensity of the afternoon heat shimmers and the brightness of the sun bleaches the sand and everything on it to whiteness. There is a feeling of timelessness as if nothing has ever moved or changed or ever will. The camera is distracted from the elderly couple by the sight of a young couple lying entwined in the sand, kissing with the single-minded intensity and obliviousness of youth. Behind the young couple the camera catches a pair of black/brown scantily clad sun worshipping middle-aged men.

Beyond the men the camera catches a distant view of two women. They are as if removed from the rest of the world, an island in space. There is a white beach umbrella that castes bleached shade over them. As the camera moves towards them we see that they are wearing bathing suits and sarongs. ANNE is sitting up apparently reading but her eyes are closed and MARGIE is lying down with her hat over her face and a book beside her on the sand. They are so still they could be asleep or perhaps statues. Time has stretched out to a standstill.

Without any sign of movement, MARGIE's voice comes from under her hat:

Are they alright? Can you see them?


They laugh weakly. ANNE opens her eyes and looks down the beach towards the water. She raises her hand to shade her eyes.

Yeah. DAVID's with them down at the water. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (she counts) Sh! Close your eyes. Enjoy.

You know I think it feels better now than it used to; before we had the kids. The times of peace and quiet are pretty rare now.

She reaches out her hand towards ANNE. They squeeze hands.

Oh fuck. This is fabulous.

MARGIE rolls over towards ANNE and stretches. Her hat falls off her face. She is dazed by the heat and the brightness. But as she rises onto her elbow, ANNE's 2 year old daughter BECKA who is down by the water is in her line of vision. MARGIE yawns and chuckles.

Oh! Look at that little girl. I could just eat her up!

ANNE follows MARGIE's eyeline and sees her daughter. She smiles.

She is definitely my baby that one!

She is just so scrumptious!

It's the legs.

It's the cheeks!

Oh, she is my little one, that is for sure.

MARGIE looks at ANNE.

You look as hot as I feel.

She sees a drop of sweat running down ANNE's back from her armpit. MARGIE reaches over to wipe the drip and as she does so she catches the strap of ANNE's togs and it gets pulled aside to reveal a large blue/back (recent) bruise. MARGIE stares uncomprehendingly at it for a few seconds, wondering what it is and how it got there. Finally comprehension begins to sink in. She sits up and looking intently at ANNE says to her quite gently:

What's that?

From the moment MARGIE touches ANNE, she is aware that MARGIE has seen the bruise. She doesn't try to hide it or pretend that it isn't there. She waits for MARGIE to respond. Then ANNE speaks matter-of-factly.

DAVID hit me. (pause) He's been doing it for years.

ANNE doesn't look at MARGIE who is staring at her friend. MARGIE's hand is still on ANNE's back.

(to herself almost) Oh my God.

At this moment DAVID comes running up from the water's edge. The children are chasing him. It's a game.

MARGIE is suddenly a coiled spring that unwinds at DAVID. MARGIE leaps up, yelling at DAVID.

You bastard!

MARGIE gives DAVID a hard and well aimed kick in the balls. It connects and DAVID collapses in a groaning agonised heap on the sand.

ANNE watches - sort of detached, sort of horrified, but motionless, unable to respond.

MARGIE briefly takes in DAVID lying on he sand then turns her back on him to face the children who have observed this little drama with varying degrees of comprehension.

Come on kids! I'm going to take you all for a swim!

MARGIE picks up BECKA and stalls the questions from her own children by saying

Not now kids. I'll talk to you about it later, but right now we have to leave DAVID and ANNE alone. Okay?

But Mummy.....

(firmly) Not now, I said. Come on we are going for a swim!

MARGIE gathers up all the children and heads down to the water. Except for SIMON.

SIMON lingers behind, looking at his parents. He is torn, confused. He feels helpless and responsible. He sees his father, a groaning heap in the sand. He looks at his Mother as tears begin to spill from her eyes and down her cheeks. She is not looking at him, or at anything. She is in her own head.

MARGIE's arm comes around SIMON. She comforts him and leads him away down to the sea for a swim.

ANNE is desolate and still crying. She is a bit afraid too. She looks at DAVID lying in the sand, then she looks out to sea.

DAVID recovering gets up on his hands and knees. There is sand on his face and around his mouth. He looks at ANNE. He is pale and tight and hurt and angry and sorry.

ANNE returns his look, then they both look away. Neither of them can be that defiant. They can't hold each other's gaze.

MARGIE is in the water with the 5 children. She is dangling BECKA in the water then lighting her up high. BECKA is shrieking with delight. MARGIE's two younger children are playing with the ball, chasing it in the water. JAMES is further out playing chicken with the waves. SIMON is going out to where the water is quite deep. MARGIE is watching him closely, while playing with BECKA.

SIMON (she calls)

SIMON hears her but he doesn't look back. MARGIE calls again.


This time SIMON turns around an looks at MARGIE.

Don't go out too far!

SIMON acknowledges MARGIE. He doesn't come back in but he doesn't go out any further either.

MARGIE looks at BECKA.

He will never ever do it to her again. Not if I can help it!

MARGIE hugs BECKA tight.