'Beneath the Surface' by Adam Trodd

We stopped at the estuary to get out of the car and stretch our legs. It was the August bank holiday weekend and it was a source of despondency for us both that soon we would have to head for home to slip on the shackles of our nine-to-five routines again. I was relieved to be out of the car and feeling the estuary air on my face with its briny tang while the bladderwrack squeaked and ticked.
The tide was beginning to recede, leaving behind craggy tar-black stumps that were anchored in the packed sand like giant crow’s feet. I told her that it looked to me like there was once a prehistoric forest where we were standing. The rocks too were full of tubular shapes that signified various forms of ancient life once poked through the substrate there, blunted and blind.
In an effort to banish the cloud that had settled on us both I set about looking for treasure; lifting up clumps of rotted seaweed amid showers of panicked sand hoppers. Bright orange twine, sand-polished pieces of glass, miniscule sea shells, a tiny olive-green crab that traced a sideways path across her palm; I brought them all to her, retrieving them like a fawning bowery bird that seeks the approval of a reticent mate. 


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