The old man sat watching us,saying nothing, but occasionally smiling at the antics of our two small children playing in the sand.
The old man seemed somehow familiar, but I couldn’t for the life of me put a name to the face.
He had a very long white beard that was divided into two streams, each knotted and tied with a dark twine. His hair was long and flowing and it tossed in the wind as he turned to watch the children’s every movement.
He seemed more than a little strange, and yet he exuded no hostility or danger.
OK, maybe he was a little eccentric, but nothing more. I was certain there were far worse people walking the sea-front.
The wind dropped and the sun came streaming through the cloud-laden sky. It was turning into a beautiful day.
The inevitable ice-cream van appeared, sounding its musical chimes for all to hear.
A queue quickly formed and my wife dashed across and secured her place.
When she eventually get to the front of the queue
she placed her order, then she suddenly turned to me and shouted that her purse was in her handbag that was on the bench next to me. I took the handbag and walked across the green to deliver it to her.
We both collected the ices, and as we turned back to the beach I was alarmed to see our two children walking toward the sea, both holding the hands of the old man. They walked with a purpose and I suddenly had an apparition of impending doom. I dropped the ices and started to run toward them calling out both of their names. They appeared not to have heard me and by this time they were at the waters edge. Surely they would now stop, but no, they walked straight into the cold water, still holding his hands. He was obviously talking to them because they kept looking up into his face.
On they walked, deeper and deeper as I frantically screamed their names.
By this time I had reached the waters edge and water stunned me with its coldness. I had to stop. I was transfixed.
The children and the old man just walked into the water and disappeared.
This couldn’t be happening! I couldn’t move!
The sea started to lash against my legs and I was slowly driven back away from the waters edge.
Whatever could I do?