Two summers ago, we spent a glorious fortnight in Marina di Venezia, a campsite near Venice that’s situated right on the beach. About five days into our holiday, I was lying awake in bed, cranky after a bad night’s sleep, and irrationally irritated that everyone else was still snoring (including the four-year old source of my wakeful night).
I decided to go for a walk on the beach to clear the cobwebs, so I stuck on runners and shorts, and went out into the bright morning sunshine. Something clicked then – something about how quiet it was in the not-yet-blistering heat – and I realised I wanted to go for a run. This was out of character – usually holidays are about doing as little as possible, and at home I sometimes pray for rain just to avoid my weekly run. But there was something about that morning.
I ran through the shady campsite trails, zig-zagging over and back to build up distance, then I ran to the beach, and continued along the water’s edge until heat and tiredness stopped me. I slowed to a walk, then a stand, and stood staring out to sea as the babble of accents washed over me.
Instinctively, I pulled out my phone to take a photo of the sea, and one of me – proof, in case I needed it, that I’d done a first ever morning run on holidays.
Then a woman caught my attention. She was in a low deckchair in the shallow waves, her face tilted to the sun, a book dangling from her hand. She looked so content and relaxed, utterly at ease as paddlers and swimmers splashed around her. Again, instinctively, my fingers reached to take a photo. I could already see her picture on Instagram, captioned “how I wish I spent my twenties”.
But I hesitated. What if I took her photo and put it online, and somebody saw it – what if she was on the run from the police, or hiding from an ex, or just somewhere she shouldn’t be? What if someone saw the picture and became obsessed? What if my photo was her undoing? Farfetched though the what-ifs were, I decided not to take the photo. But the idea took hold – what if someone put a photo of a stranger online, and it had unforeseen consequences? I didn’t take the photo of the woman that day – I put her in a story instead.
The running bug took hold though, and I went out most mornings for the rest of the holiday – mostly for a short run and a longer walk. It gave me the headspace I needed to deal with the inevitable squabbles that arise when five people spend a fortnight in very close quarters. And now that beach is special to me – a place that reminds me of peace and calm and sunshine and stories and a woman in a deckchair who’s now in a book.
If you’d like to be in with a chance to win a signed copy of One Click, along with a copy of The Other Side of the Wall, just comment below to enter the draw. You can also enter by commenting on the post on my Facebook page when it goes up later this evening, or RT’ing on Twitter. Good luck!