It was supposed to be a romantic getaway. Golden beach, tent, stunning sunsets, lazy hours frolicking and making love to your special someone… what could go wrong, right?
My boyfriend and I, let’s say for this story his name is Bob, had arrived at this gorgeous beach and set up our tent. It was late in the afternoon so, cool beer in hand we wandered down the wooden steps to the beach. Stepping over the numerous bits of driftwood on the sand, we walked hand in hand down the shoreline, sand slipping between our toes and waves lapping at our feet.
There were several other campers set up for the night around the raised grassy area up the bank. We built a little campfire on the beach. Trying to be sociable, Bob invited a young couple over to our campfire. We talked, laughed and seemed to get along swimmingly.
Seemed, being the operative word here.
It grew dark and rather cold so the couple said goodnight and went off to find their own tent. Bob was a little quiet as we made our way to ours.
‘They were nice weren’t they?’ I said cheerfully.
‘You like him don’t you?’ Bob accused.
‘You two got along really well.’
‘Wait a minute. You were the one who asked them to come over to our fire.’
Bob sulked and brooded eventually storming out of the tent in a huff. Annoyed and disappointed, I climbed into my sleeping bag and tossed and turned trying to get to sleep.
A good while later, I felt the empty spot next to me and was a bit concerned to discover he still wasn’t back. I crawled forward in the dark and shoved aside the half open tent flap and my brain came to the belated conclusion I’d been breathing wood smoke.
All up and down the beach fires were lit, too many to count. Piles of driftwood which someone had deliberately set alight. That someone was now asleep on the beach and oblivious to how merrily his little temper-tantrum-spawned display was growing. I realized this sleeping space could grow more than a bit cosy very soon so, tempting as it was to just go back to sleep and let him roast, I went down to the beach and begrudgingly shoved the big oaf until he woke up. He was totally disoriented but saw the circle of fire surrounding us and stumbled his huge form back up the wooden steps to the tent.
‘Will those be alright?’ I asked.
‘Yeah,’ he said without an ounce of sincerity. He fell on top of his sleeping bag and passed out again.
With a feeling of intense unease I crawled into the sleeping bag and tried to go back to sleep. While in this semi-dormant state I was awoken by someone knocking, if it can be called that, on the tent.
‘Get up, the beach is on fire!’ A man’s voice said.
‘Can you help us,’ a woman’s voice called urgently.
I stuck my head out and peered toward the beach in horror as my eyes took in the towering wall of flames. The previous scattering of small fires had all merged into a mega blaze, the flames of which were now licking their way up the wooden steps to our campsite.
‘Help,’ the woman had asked. My mind raced and already felt defeated. Even a fully equipped fire utility would have had a mission putting this out.
All we had in our possession capable of being a vessel for water was a sad-assed little chilly bin. But to sit and wait for it to gather more momentum and consume our tent was unthinkable. Down to the surf we ran and load after pitiful load of sea water was tossed into the blaze. It was as hopeless as pissing on a volcanic eruption but with the other distressed campers on we battled until someone with sense had called the Fire Department and the cavalry arrived.
The sky began to grow pink with the rising of the sun.
To say we beat it down would be inaccurate. In truth it starved itself of fuel, burning up not only all the driftwood on the beach but the wooden steps as well.
As we sat on the grass bank outside our tent covered in soot, wet, cold with sand in every nook and cranny, exhausted from the pointless night spent fighting an undefeatable foe, I turned to Bob and said, ‘next time you’re feeling romantic, do me a favour. Just give me some flowers instead.’