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The Summit

"Sometimes, you don't even get a break when you're on holiday."
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Summer holidays aren't what they used to be. Everyone's into my baby brother now, which is fine, but it means I've got to look after my little sister.

"Take Louise for a swim son."

She can't swim. She's only six. She just paddles and cries if too much water splashes her face.

There are some kids about my age climbing round the bottom of the big rock nearby, exploring its rock pools. They'd let me explore with them if I went over, I know it. I saw some kids climbing to the top last year. But I'm stuck with my little sister.

My grandma calls us in. I don't know how, but we hear her voice above the beach noise - breaking waves, wind, laughter, barking dogs.

My sister knows I love corned beef butties so she bagsies them first.

"Oh Andrew, let her have them."

She's too clever for a six year old. She knows she'll get her way. I have to eat the tuna ones. I hate tuna but I'm really hungry. And they've got sand in them.

I don't even look at the smokey bacon crisps because I know my sister will want them. I pretend to be distracted by a boy flying a kite. My sister goes for the smokey bacon anyway. I refuse to eat the prawn cocktail. They're disgusting.

I don't even think about ice-cream. In the old days my grandad would walk to the cafe with me, holding my hand and telling me stories about the war, to get 99s for everyone. He's too busy throwing my brother in the air and catching him now. I'd only have to take my sister to the cafe if we wanted ice-cream.

My mum and dad have been lying quietly on the sand for most of the morning. Now they get up to go for a swim. I'm about to go with them but my dad gets my mum over his shoulder and carries her off to the water. She's laughing louder than I've ever heard her laugh before. I'll leave them alone.

There's a gap under the windbreaker where the wind's blowing the sand all over the sandwiches. I grab my spade and walk round to the other side to plug the gap. I start building up a small embankment along the bottom of the whole length of our camp's perimeter. I'm going to do this straight away tomorrow. I'm tired of sand in my sandwiches. Ha, sand in my sandwiches! I never thought of that before.

"I'm taking Louise to spend a penny," my grandma shouted in that voice that gets through all noise. She takes my sister by the hand and heads for the sand dunes. My grandad's too busy coochy-cooing my little brother to answer.

I finish digging and realise I'm off duty. No sister to look after. No camp repairs to make. I'll go and see if those kids are still at the rock.

"Just off to the rock grandad."

He's singing to my brother now so he doesn't answer.

I climb all the way round the bottom of the big rock but I can't see those kids anywhere. I wonder if they've climbed up to the top.

The rock's pretty steep and pretty smooth but I can see holes I can get my hands and toes into. It only takes a few footholds and I'm nearly half way up. This is easy.

I look for our camp so my grandad can see how high I am. I can see the windbreaker but it's in the way of grandad and John. They'll see me better when I'm at the top.

The holes aren't as big near the top and it gets a bit harder to climb but after about ten minutes I'm at the summit. There are a few trees growing here - weird. I use them to pull myself up the last bit of rock.

There's a space about the same size as our front garden at the top of the rock. I wasn't expecting that. From the beach, it looks like it goes to a point.

I hear a screech above me, really close. A big white bird has just landed on a branch right above my head and it's shouting at me. It's a seagull I suppose. Its wings are wide open as though it's trying to hide something behind it. It's thrusting its open beak at me while it screams at me. It's pretty scary so I move further into the garden.

The bird stops shouting now but keeps one eye on me. Now I can see a nest and in it are three eggs. I'll leave it alone.

I look for our place on the beach. It's hard because there are hundreds of windbreakers and everything's a lot smaller from up here. Every camp looks the same. And these trees are in the way so I can't get a proper look.

I can see loads in the other directions though. I can see the beach cafe and I can make out people sitting at the white tables outside. There's those kids eating chips and drinking coke I think. And laughing.

I look along the sand dunes and I can see my grandma and my sister. Louise is rolling down the dunes and laughing her head off. It is pretty good on the dunes. I might have a go later.

The other way, I can see out to sea for miles. I love looking out to sea. One day I'm going on a massive sea voyage. I'll see whales and dolphins and everything. I can see a couple of small fishing boats bobbing about not far from the horizon. I'm glad I'm not on one of them. I went on one the other day with my dad. We didn't catch any fish and this fat Welsh man spent the whole day being sick into the sea. No wonder there were no fish around.

The edge of the garden - I like that, calling it my garden - looks like a good place to sit and watch the sea. I find a smoothish rock to sit on. I look back at the bird and it looks a bit more relaxed now. It's tidying up its nest.

Looking down I can see kids exploring the rock pools. Some of them are inspecting things in their fishing nets. I wish I had some kids to do stuff with.

Along the beach a bit, I can see my mum and dad in the water. My dad's carrying my mum in a kind of wrong-way-round piggy back. My mum's laughing. She looks really pretty when she laughs.

I stand up and wave my arms and shout to them. I'm too far away though and they can't hear me when they're in the sea.

Back on my seat I look out to sea and start making plans. Next year, I'm going to see if Mark can come with us. At home, me and Mark do everything together - making dens, climbing trees, climbing rocks, playing wally and kerby, everything. He'd love it up here. We'd make an ace den up here and I wouldn't have to spend the whole time looking after my sister. I think about all the things I could do if I was with someone my own age.

The sun's not as hot now and I notice the beach has gone quieter. My mum and dad aren't in the sea any more. From the other side of my garden I can't see anyone on the sand dunes. A couple of people are collecting table-cloths from the tables at the cafe and wiping the tables. There are hardly any windbreakers left on the beach and through the trees I can spot our camp easily even though everything's packed away and the windbreaker's been rolled up.

My mum and my grandma are with Louise and John and they're all looking out to sea. My dad's right at the other end of the beach, running and looking at the water. I can't see my grandad.

I can't see their faces properly but something about the way they're standing and moving tells me something's wrong. Have they lost grandad? He's not been taken out by the tide?

I go back to to the edge of the rock. I should be able to see him from here if he's been swept out to see. Then I see him, not in the water but running along the beach, like my dad but in the other direction. Oh no. They're looking for me.

"GRANDAD". He's the closest and there are no trees in the way. He's my best chance of getting seen. But the wind's strong up here and it blows the sound away from my mouth as soon as the words come out. I jump up and down waving my arms, still shouting but he's looking out to sea too hard. I'd better get off the rock quick. Where's the bit I climbed up?

I look in lots of places but the rock looks too smooth and steep from here. I can't see any of those footholds I used to climb up. I look on the other sides but they're sheer drops.

My dad and grandad have gone back to our camp. My grandma's shouting at my grandad and my mum's got her face in her hands. My dad's running really fast towards the cafe. They're really worried. They think I've been washed out to see. Even my sister's crying but she's probably just copying my mum.

"I'M UP HERE." I keep shouting and waving. It's really frustrating and I can feel myself starting to cry. I HATE crying. I'm really angry now. I'm stuck up here, my mum's crying, I'm crying, ...

"I'M UP HERE." I'm shaking the tree now, I don't know why. Maybe to move it so they can see me. Maybe they'll see the tree shaking. Anyway, the bird sees me doing it and starts attacking me again. Not now! The bird's swooping at me, screeching and clawing at my hair. I swipe at it and that makes it screech even more. It pecks at my hands and head and I have to move away. The birds goes back to it's nest but it's watching me closely.

On the beach, I can see my sister pulling my mum's skirt and pointing to the rock. Of course, she heard the bird and must have seen me. She's really excited and not crying anymore. She's ok really, my sister. Maybe I'm a bit mean to her. I go back to the edge and start waving and shouting again.

They all look up now. My mum falls to her knees and my grandad starts running towards the rock. I had no idea he could run that fast. I can hear a voice now. It's my grandma's voice that can be heard from anywhere.


The bird's attacking me again. Now I know they've seen me, I move back to the other side of my garden.

The bird attacks my grandad now. God, he got up there quick.

"Bloody thing," he says, batting the bird away. "So this is where you've been. We were worried sick son."

"Sorry. I told you I was coming to the rock."

"Did you? Oh I didn't hear you kid."

My grandad ruffled my hair looking around at the views.

"It's nice up here int it. Apart from that bloody bird! Come on kiddo. Let's get back."

The bird shouts at us again but that's all. It must know we're leaving now. My grandad climbs down ahead of me guiding my feet into the footholds. I don't feel a bit scared when I'm with him.

I get back to the camp and my mum and grandma are angry.

"Don't EVER do that again. Do you hear me? We thought you ... Just don't EVER, EVER go off on your own again."

Everyone starts grabbing bags and buckets and spades and moving towards the exit to the car park on the other side of the dunes.

"Come on, we'll be late for tea." My mum's still angry with me. I wish I was back up on the rock.

I feel my sister's sandy little hand slip into mine. She's looking up at me and I can see white salt trails on her cheeks where her tears have dried. I don't think she was just copying my mum.

"What's it like up there?"

"It's really nice. You can see everything. And there's a bird's nest up there with three eggs in it."

"Can I come with you tomorrow?"

I hold her hand a bit tighter and we follow the grown ups.

"We'll see."

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