As we rounded the long, arching cliffs of Glanfahan, Coumeenole beach appeared before us. Its pale white sand was covered in the blotched shadows and highlights of the clouds and sun floating overhead. The vibrant white seemed so out of place, in a bay which by all reasoning should have consisted only of seaweed and hard stones.
The road to the beach was downhill, twisting around the side of the cliffs. A small wall, barely reaching our pedals, was the only thing between us - Me, Imogen, Matthew, William - and the crashing Atlantic below. We were gliding down to the corner of Ireland. The peninsula reached out from the coast like a bent metal needle. Upon reaching the beach we would either have to turn back around the other side of the peninsula, or start swimming off into the Atlantic until we died or reached America.
Imogen, the smoker of the group, was tired of the cycling. She suggested a short break, and visit to the beach. which we all heartily agreed with. We rode down the sharp concrete slope to the beach and rested our bikes against the rock walls at the back, a slight overhang casting a shadow on their frames.
Matthew and William almost immediately stripped down and ran off crashing into the sea.
I was feeling more nervous of the cold. Imogen sat and chatted with me for a while. She talked about Jacob from back home, how they'd gone drinking after they'd given blood together, and how drunk they'd been as a result. I didn't know Jacob very well. I listened on longingly and stayed fairly quiet, until eventually the conversation dried up. I lay back and closed my eyes, focusing on the feeling of the sunshine. Soon Imogen too wanted to swim. She quietly began changing into her swimming gear. I saw the scars on her legs and arms from cutting. They were old. She knew I would see. She must have been prepared for this moment and, according to her face, she cared little.
I also began to change into my swimming gear and we walked to the sea.
Contentedness overflowed in us. The sun had heated the shallow water. Surrounding us was the open ocean and the spotted green Irish islands. Nothing was better than this. Imogen floated over toward me. She turned around and settled her back into my chest, letting my arms wrap around her. We floated there pressed against each other, weightless and salty, as if asleep on the dead sea.
After several long minutes Matthew and William came crashing past, dashing up the beach. We separated, and joined them to play. The tide was coming in fast now. We had already lost a lot of ground for the time spent in the water, and every few minutes another meter of white sand would be gone under the foam. It an attempt to stop our inevitable fate, Matthew, William and Me began the construction of a sandy ring around our position. A dam to prevent the water from taking any more. Imogen looked on and laughed.
But eventually the water overflowed the dam, and began to lap at the wheels of our bikes. Splashing through shallow water we carried them nearer the ramp, and began to get dressed. By the time we were ready to depart the beach had been completely subsumed by the water. Driven by the tide, the Atlantic coast line once again consisted of sharp rocks and seaweed. We mounted our bikes and began the cycle back again. A small life had been lived on that beach by all of us, which was now gone. I struggled to hide my disappointment at this fact. I looked on as Imogen cycled ahead.