The only day she could recall that they lived without fear, was a trip to the beach when the children were small. It was late September and an Autumnal breeze whipped skirts and peeled their long blonde hair back from their heads without mercy. Nobody complained though. They spread blankets on the fine sand and despite the chill the sun warmed them briefly - just enough to get by. That was all she ever would ask for. They drank hot chocolate from the cafe and didn't eat the grainy sandwiches that she had lovingly packed that morning. Instead they bought fish and chips and shared a carton of mushy peas, warm and sweet. The children swam in waves that gently caressed the shore. Whilst she pretended to read but really kept two well trained eyes on the bobbing heads, they hunted sea glass and sand dollars. When they finally heeded her calls to the beach they were shivering and salty, their hair knotted and woven with the ocean. She enveloped them in bright blue towels and instantly the smell of the sea permeated the material. They drove home with the heater on full and Kid Rock on the radio.
A few weeks later, after the chaos of that September had unfolded and became something of a normality, if you could call it that she found the memories. They weren't in the smell of the fried fish as they walked home after school, past the roadside cafe. It wasn't in the soft sniffles of her youngest daughter at night whilst she recovered from the cold she developed from bathing in the sea. No it wasn't in any of the most obvious places. At night with the log fire burning and her feet tucked under her, when she reached for her book to snatch just thirty minutes of quiet, it was there. She turned the pages sometimes, just to see it. At each subtle movement, a couple of grains of sand fell from the creases of the paper. It was enough to instantly transport her back to that one day without fear. And the book? She never did get to the end of it.