I don’t believe in fate, but sometimes there’s places you’re meant to be. The names in this story have been changed to protect the anonymity of the subjects.
The Wild Beasts
One morning a few years ago in January, we were given tickets to a gig. It was a last minute offer because our friends couldn’t go – a bout of morning sickness left them housebound. After a bit of indecision, we hopped on a train to Brighton and with the tickets to see The Wild Beasts. It was the start of a fated night I can’t forget.
Later that night, I met a woman in the sea.
We left the Concorde 2 – a nightclub on the quieter end of Brighton seafront, just after midnight. It was a cold, blowy night. We could see the beach – the waves were big, lit up by the crispy white moon.
Take me home
My Converse pinched, and I wanted to head home. It was Baltic. If we left quickly we might catch the last train back to London.
The boy I was with was desperate to get a closer look at the waves. My face was full of snot and a romantic stroll was not on my to-do list. Nonetheless, my hand was taken; we hopped over a fence, around the crazy golf and were on the pebbles.
We were the only people on the beach, which doesn’t happen everyday in Brighton.
A figure in the distance
We bumbled along, the pier in the distance beaming neon lights over the seafront. I could make out people flying down the helter-skelter, just as I thought: what a bunch of…
‘Look’ he said, sounding alarmed.
‘There’s a seal!’
That seems unusual I thought. But there was something there. We sped up. The thing we could see being thrashed by the waves, was no seal.
We both went in
Someone, fully dressed was sitting neck deep in the water. It was getting close to 1am now, the waves were more frequent, every few seconds crashing over her head.
Thinking she was a teenage girl I shouted ‘Where are your friends?!’ As if it was some stupid stunt.
She didn’t respond.
‘Get out!’… ‘Come on’ we shouted. Nothing. She wasn’t going anywhere. She turned and caught my eye. She wasn’t a teenage girl, and she wasn’t pleased to see us.
We both went in. Holding under her arms we pulled the woman out of the sea as far as we could. She was awake, but a dead weight and obviously exhausted.
I sat with her
We were up to our waists in cold seawater. I took the woman’s hands and she started to talk to me. ‘What’s you’re name? What’s happened’ I asked. All she could say was ‘He’s left me, I can’t go on, my husband’s left me’
I held her hand tightly, and looked in her eyes, they were somewhere else entirely. I tried my best to comfort her, and tell her it’s ok, but felt in deep shock.
Minutes later (what felt like hours) two police officers came running behind us, I hardly realised the boy I was with had left to fetch them. They swooped the woman up and he pulled me away.
One of the Police officers took us to his patrol car, giving us blankets to warm up. The woman was taken away in an ambulance, and we were driven to a hotel.
The woman’s name was Freya
We were later told that the woman we’d pulled from the sea had been reported missing 36 hours prior. We were told we’d done a brave thing but we didn’t feel brave at all.
The woman’s name was Freya, her husband had left her but there were people who loved her, and missed her. Those people wanted her home.
I didn’t want to walk along the beach that night, and that experience was one of the saddest I’ve had, but it was a place we had to be. Joe and Sally had to get morning sickness, we had to go to that gig, and we had to miss the last train back to get Freya home.
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