Forgiveness Rewards Chapter 1

Rachel the Beach Thief

Glennis Abbot watched from a vantage point above the beach on a brilliant sunshine weekend day. It was a familiar sight she loved, the ocean blue and beautiful with gentle waves caressed the shore.  

She had just finished an assignment chosen for her college history project looking into the foundation of this city and its suburbs. Pioneers had named the river Excelsior and the bay took that rivers name. Gold had been the original reason to follow the river upstream until it was not possible to take big boats further and much alluvial gold had been found upstream and in creeks acting as tributary to the Excelsior. A small settlement on the river ten miles from where Glennis was sitting had followed to supply miners and farmers upstream, and this had spread over time to enclose small fishing villages into the city she lived in today. It was now the hub of a thriving hinterland where agriculture thrived after the gold ran out.

Yesterday had been quite different there’d been strong winds and she’d watched from the same vantage point as she saw windsurfers struggling to keep their craft from falling over. She laughed as she recalled scenes where her brother Bernard had been out as one of those wind surfers and he’d taken a fall several times but had persevered.

She remembered the happy past when she’d been able to take her board and enjoy the ocean on favourable winds skimming parallel to the shore.  But now things were different she was sitting in a wheelchair and for a person who loved sports this was the worst predicament to be in.

This year had been stressful as the doctor had recently told her it would take many more months before she was able to risk putting weight on her leg again. She recalled that fateful day when she’d been out bike riding with her friends. An out-of-control car had struck her and a friend in the bike lane as it sped around the corner trying to escape a pursuing police car. It was no comfort for her to know the teen driver had been jailed for drink driving in a stolen car.

 She remembered her father reporting on the court case he’d attended as a spectator to view justice being done for his precious daughter. The judge had pronounced sentence on this foolish teenager but there was no use continuing to be angry with him as she realized anger was causing her additional health problems when she needed all her mental strength to recover from this serious accident. Broken ribs had healed up now but damage to her leg had been much more serious and the scar though healed covered a pin that would prevent her from taking part in active sports in future. Her doctor was hopeful she’d soon be able to leave the wheelchair and discard crutches, but she’d have to carry on with mild walking and upper body exercises. She’d never again be able to participate in action sports she so loved.

Watching everyone enjoying activities out on the ocean was hard but she was still grateful doctors had been able to restore her to her present health condition. One of the things she missed most was interaction with all the friends she used to spend time with enjoying active sports together particularly volleyball sessions on the beach and of course her surfboard. A fall in future could do her serious damage and seriously limit mobility further so she would be careful to follow doctor’s orders.

She thought she heard her name called and turned in the direction of the sound. She hadn’t noticed her brother was heading in her direction as she scanned activities on the beach until she heard his familiar voice. She couldn’t catch all the words he spoke as a gentle breeze was moving against him as he approached but she saw sunbathers look up as he passed them and knew it was him speaking. He was soon beside her and repeating his question.

 “Are you ready for lunch Glenny I’m feeling hungry!”

Glennis laughed. She loved her brother and knew he had a powerful appetite. They’d always been close and we’re inseparable in sports up to the time of her accident. but he continued to take an interest in her needs and had driven her down to the beach to survey all these activities he knew she loved whenever he could.  He’d helped her into the wheelchair on arrival and placed her in this good vantage point so she could observe while she waited for him. Glennis missed going to college with him each day, but special arrangements had been made so she could complete most of her college work online and when it was necessary for her to attend school on required occasions her mother took time off to see she was well cared for. She was glad she belonged to such a supportive and loving family as she’d needed their strength as she recovered through painful months of treatment.

Bernard inquired what kind of food he should order and bring back to her. They’d transferred to a bench, and he helped her sit where both could be together as they ate. Fifteen minutes later he was back with the food, and they sat and watched busy beach activities while they munched their food occasionally fighting off seagulls cheekily trying to steal food from their laps.

Bernard tapped his sister on the shoulder. “Look at that girl on your right sis.” Glennis turned slowly to see what her brother was indicating she should look at.

The girl had her eyes glued to Bernard’s giant burger.

“I think she’s hungry sis let’s find out.” He beckoned to the girl who was so intent on his lunch she failed to notice him beckoning to her, so he called out and she shook her head as if coming out of a trance. She smiled and looked embarrassed turning to look to the side. She was in her early teens and quite attractive wearing typical beach attire but there was something about her that caught Bernard and Glennis’ attention.

“Bernard, go and tell her I want to speak to her.”

Bernard strode over to the girl and spoke to her, but she shook her head and got up to move to another place. Bernard spoke again and this time she jumped up and accompanied him back to the wheelchair. On arrival he spoke to Glennis.

“I’m going to get Rachel some food so you two can talk while I’m away. Be back as soon as I can but there is quite a line up outside the fast-food place. Oh, incidentally she prefers to be called Shell as everyone calls her that here on the beach.”

Glennis insisted Shell sit with her at the bench. The girl eyed the wheelchair curiously.

“What’s that thing for?”

Glennis laughed. “That thing is how I must move around after my accident Shell. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk at some point in future when the doctors clear it. But I’ll never be able to windsurf or play other sports again which makes me sad as I love sports.”

“What happened to make you use a wheelchair?”

“A drunk driver hit me and a friend when we were out cycling one day. My friend also had to be hospitalized but has since recovered and will probably be able to play sports again. I was not so lucky. Fortunately, I have a brother and parents who look after me very well. Why are you so hungry you must eat a lot at home.”

“Don’t have a home. I live at the beach. I’ve been watching your brother for a while now. He’s nice to people. I don’t trust men at the beach who approach me because they’ve tried to force themselves onto me at night, but I think I can trust your brother.”

Glennis recoiled in shock. “Then its unsafe for you to be here at night. Why did you leave home?”

My ma and pa live in the beach caravan park nearby and are always on drugs. My father tried his luck with me. and my brother protected me from him on several occasions, so we left home together to live on the beach.”

“Where is your brother now and why doesn’t he protect you at night Shell?”

At that moment Bernard returned with two large burgers and some fruit and drink trying to juggle everything in his arms.

“This should keep you busy while you’re at the beach today. I’m sure you must have a healthy appetite at home.”

The girl spied a discarded carry bag protruding from a trash can and ran over to retrieve it placing the food quickly inside on her return to the bench.

“Thanks, I’ll have something to eat tonight now. I suppose I should go and leave you to enjoy each other’s company. You’re a good man to take care of your sister.” She turned to leave.

Bernard looked inquiringly at his sister who took hold of Shell’s arm.

“Please stay a while Shell I’m enjoying talking with you and you really don’t have any reason to leave.”

Rachel looked at Glennis in surprise. “Aren’t you scared I might steal some of your stuff when you’re not looking?”

“Why would you want to steal from me when I don’t mind giving you whatever I have to give? You didn’t have to steal food from my brother because he gave it to you.” Glennis laughed, then looked at Shell carefully after realizing she hadn’t been bluffing.

“Do you steal Shell?”

“Yes, how would I survive otherwise now my brother is in jail? I need to eat and get clothes and stuff to sleep on.”

“You could be arrested for that Shell surely there’s another way to support yourself. The government has places for teenagers who don’t have a home.”

“I’ve heard about those places. It’s less safe there than on the beach. The cops have arrested me a few times but I’m underage and they have so much of it to deal with they give a warning and release me.”

“Would you want to steal if you had a home to live in, food to eat and nice clothes. Wouldn’t you want to have a good education so you could find a job to support yourself?”

“I don’t like stealing and I’d love to have a nice job like people in the shops, but they don’t trust me, and I only have clothes I pick up on the beach from people while they are swimming which shop people don’t wear. I really envy those kids who go to school during the week.”

Bernard and Glennis looked at this young girl with compassion. They compared her plight with the loving and supportive home they had with all conveniences and educational opportunities that came with their middle-class upbringing.

Glennis spoke. “I’ll be back tomorrow Shell. Would you come and sit with me while my brother is enjoying his surfing? I’d really appreciate your company.”

Shell looked at brother and sister with suspicion. “Why do you want to talk with me after I’ve told you what I do to survive?”

“Well, I understand why you do what you do Shell and think you are really a good person who is trying to survive the best way you know how. Please consider my request to come back and talk with me tomorrow. You don’t do drugs, do you?”

“Not after seeing what it did to my parents. OK, I’ll see you tomorrow then but if you bring the cops, I’ll be watching from a distance before meeting with you. It won’t work anyway because they always release me with a warning.” Shell laughed bitterly as she took her rescued carry bag and headed into the crowd.

Bernard watched her go anxiously.

“Poor kid, I really feel sorry for her. Wish there was something we could do to help her.”

That evening over supper the events of the day were shared around the table as usual, and the Abbot family parents Malcolm and Carole with their children Barnard and Glennis felt sad knowing there were people like Shell who circumstances had not treated well in life. They finished their meal in a sober mood. News media every evening reported this underbelly of the city but for Bernard and Glennis to be so directly exposed to the reality made it personal.

To be continued

Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2023 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

12 thoughts on “Forgiveness Rewards Chapter 1

  1. I’m very interested to see what is going to happen to Shell. I have expectations, but knowing you Ian and the way you write, I’m going to have to wait and see what comes next. Thanks for a great read

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed the story so far and look forward to reading more. Sometimes we don’t realise how bad it is for people until we witness it ourselves and see the world through their eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reinforcing that point Poojaji. When a person lives as an affluent among people living in poverty they have to steel their heart against just accepting that as the norm and do what is possible to help those in need.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked the introduction Cindy, All the best to you as you look forward to summer on the beautiful east coast of he US. Quite different to where you lived before isn’t it but there was grandeur there too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Birds! They sing to us every day. Si many varieties. What an alarm clock. In AZ it was quiet. In Phoenix, though, they had the squawking variety like parakeets. Not so melodic as our song birds here. We are very happy.

        Liked by 1 person

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