Day rushed into evening and then into the next morning’s light. Sandy closed the door so not to disturb Lila from her slumber and hurried along the hallway to the stairs and down to the foyer and out the front doors. He breathed deeply and observed Harwich’s early day ambience. The air was pregnant with the smell of salt. Edging the horizon, a crimson ribbon was tightly drawn across the cerulean waters. No sign of heaving waves in sight, the water lapping against the shore had a hypnotic effect. Stars dissipated during the peeling back of night’s curtain exposed the anticipated promise of the day. Straight out from shore, across the stretched water and in the tufty wizard-white clouds, gannets dived and scooped for food. While along the quay where he walked, herring gulls’ cacophonous repertoire—deafening to his ears—postured, threatened and harassed anything that came between them and the food they coveted. Piercing the brine-filled air, the demanding sweet fragrance of baking bread teased and tantalized his senses. He picked up his pace. After a short diversion to buy The Times at a nearby shop, his instincts gave way to his olfactory sense and, before he knew it, he stood in front of the bakery. He glanced at his wrist-watch before entering the shop. The boat carrying the Kindertransport children from the Hook of Holland would arrive in at least two hours.
The tea he had bought at the bakery took away the morning chill. He leaned against the rail at dockside. Staring out into the open water, he thought about his son. An errant gull or two attempted to steal his blueberry tart. “Bugger off!” he screamed when the gull lit on the rail further down. “I know what you’re at.” The bird edged forward. “Cheeky wee bastard!” Pre-emptively, he struck with an aggressive flick of his wrist. The startled bird pooped before it flew off, squawking.
He choked with laughter.
“I say. Well done!”
“I know that voice.” He regained his breath and turned to face her. “You’re about early, aren’t you, Sally?”
“I was going to say the same of you,” she replied, warmly. “You weren’t so cheery the last I saw you.”
“Lots on my mind.”
She glanced over his shoulder at the Channel. “At least I’ve got an excuse for being up so early. What’s yours?”
“Nothing exciting. Just couldn’t sleep. And you?”
“I’m off to work. There’s lots of hard labor that goes unseen to make a go of owning a pub. Something I’m sure you’ve not thought of.”
“Well, you’d be wrong. You appear surprised.”
“My dad owned a pub in Glasgow before the Great War.”
“There you are, I learn something new every day. I&rsqu...