A beautiful, autumn morning was just starting to appear. The wind had dropped out during the night and the cool air was heavy with salt.
I headed off down a narrow track through some Peppermint trees to check out the beach. The sea was grey and calm, shining. Small waves were breaking well out and running gently in to shore in long white lines. I went for a walk up the deserted bay, sticking to the firm sand near the water’s edge, enjoying the combined smell of sea and coastal scrub that always seemed stronger in still, moist air. I thought some more about our business idea; getting to do this every day definitely sounded better than working in a bank.
I rushed back out of the tent and paced around trying to calm myself. Part of me wanted to race off through the bush and find help but I had no idea how far away that would be and I wasn’t sure that it would do any good anyway.
I didn’t want to, but I went back inside the tent and checked Rob’s neck for a pulse. Nothing. And the cold flesh clearly didn’t belong to a living person.
It turned out Rob had had a massive brain bleed during the night. They said he wouldn’t have known anything about it and just didn't wake up. I grieved pretty bad for Rob; he was my brother and my best friend.
I was a lost soul for a while after that and drifted - until about eighteen months later I got called up for military service and was sent to Vietnam. During the worst moments of that bloody war I couldn’t help but think that maybe Rob was better off out of it.
OK, time to 'fess up: I got called away to something three quarters of the way through this one and came back and finished it a few hours later, so not strictly one sitting. Must plan time better to make sure I'm not interrupted….