Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 14

It was Alice who had told her about the Singing Sands and how to reach them. Nicola found the small pathway down from the single track road and pushed through the heavily scented broom bushes.

She walked down through tussock-laden heath and wildflowers to the sands. Above her, the summer sun shone down and seabirds wheeled and called.

Before her and to the west was a wide bay of white sand, blue sea with gently breaking waves, then the rounded blue mountains of Rum.

Not another human in sight, as Alice had promised. Nicola had the whole bay to herself. She paused, and then reached down to slip off her trainers.

The white sand was cool to her feet, inviting; not scorching as she had expected. Bare-footed, she walked over the dry sand and began to trail the soles of her feet and her heels through it.

Instantly, there came a strange high-pitched sound. “Singing” was how Alice had described it. The high quartz content of the sand rubbing grain against grain, Annie had explained, but magical nevertheless.

She scuffed her feet again and the beach sang back to her.

Nicola had done her share of travelling, of being struck with wonder at what she found. But this small island, with its flowers and sunlight, the clear crisp air and these magical singing sands, took her breath away.

She dropped her waterproof and trainers on to the sand. Then, no doubt reflecting her sense of euphoria, she found herself at first jogging, then running on the firmer sand, and finally racing the white bubbles of the waves as they curled up across the beach. It was years since she had run freely like this, like a child again.

At the far end of the bay, she slowed and then collapsed on to the dry sand, panting. She ran her fingers through its grains and they whispered back to her.

She smiled and scrubbed the heel of her hand across to hear the beach sing.

This was a day above all other days. In her entire adult life, she could not remember such a moment.

It was full of delight, of being both open and sensitive to the island world around her.

For the first time, she fully appreciated why Annie had come here, and then stayed a willing prisoner on the island for the rest of her life.

Nicola stared out at Rum and its rounded mountains. Already, tendrils of cloud wisped around them. Within the hour, it would probably be raining, the sea turning green.

Never mind four seasons in a single day – this small island could offer four seasons in the course of a few hours!

She loved everything about it. No wonder Alice had told her that the island itself had been the main part of her cure.

As the fresh colour in her cheeks faded, Nicola’s frown returned.

Drat Donald Macleod – he knew exactly what he was doing, like the psychologist he was. She had done as he’d asked and had talked to the women and Annie. And now today, she had let the island itself and its singing sands talk to her.

She was now lost in a mist of uncertainty, trapped between two cultures, each demanding its own solution.

In the culture which was her own, where she knew every twist and turn, there was no alternative – no business could survive, without earning enough to cover its costs.

Therefore, the only option was to close this failing business and negotiate an escape route which would keep her aunt clear of any legal penalties.

But now she had learned that there was another culture – where small was beautiful and people counted for more than profit.

Annie’s respite centre was helping people, turning around lives which were drowning in black despair. It was rebuilding the broken. Like mending a seagull’s wing, then keeping it until it was fit to fly on its own again.

In terms of that first culture, Annie came across as stupid and unworldly.

In the second, she was seen almost as a saint.

“She’s like Mother Theresa,” one of the crofter women had actually declared. “She has given her life to others, never asking for anything in return. Now it’s time for the rest of us – including you, my dear – to find a way to help her when she needs it most.”

Yes, Nicola thought. I dearly want to help Annie. But how?


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!