"Footprints" by Sal Page

Imogen jumps off the bottom step, making zig-zag footprints with her wellies. The other footprints are snow-filled. She’s never seen the two together. Sand was summer and snow was winter before they came here and moved into the little room.
    ‘Don’t go too far.’
    Dad always said that. Lots of ‘Be careful’s too.
    The sea’s edge is a long way off but there are silver stripes of water running across the sand. Dad‘s on the prom and on his phone. ‘Trying to sort things’ probably. There’s snow on the hills the other side. Imogen thinks she’d like to go there. She wonders how long it would take.
    This is a special day. Imogen’s crisps this morning had three extra-brown ones and not a single green piece. That meant something. And now they were having what Dad called a ‘bracing walk.’ Her iced ears tell her bracing means freezing. Running on dimpled sand is difficult but the sea air makes up for it. She spreads her arms out and thinks she could fly. Faster. Faster. 
    Great to get out of the little room where they’re crushed in with all the stuff from home. Her bedside cabinet’s on top of the dining table and she trips over the hoover whenever she goes to the toilet. Her clothes are folded in rubbish bags, all their coats on one hook and most of her toys hidden. Her bike was forgotten in the rush. The place smells odd. The upstairs people smoke and cook strange things. ‘They’re gently warming spam again,’ Dad keeps saying, with a funny laugh.
    Dad’s a tiny figure in the distance, on the sand by the steps. Waving and waving. Imogen stares at the bird-prints on the softening sand. She shivers and her foot pulls free of one of her wellies. Perhaps she should go back now. Hot chocolate in the café before they return to the little room? Or should she just keep on walking, making footprints in the sand?

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