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The Memorial Bench

Peter Whitfield, South Tynside, UK
July 2002

It all started when I was little more than six years old. My family and I were celebrating the 40th birthday of my Uncle Charlie. He had also just suffered from a stroke and was lucky to be alive. We had traveled a long way and we had reached a place called Arnside. This small town was beside the coast and my Uncle had moved there with his wife a few years ago. As we reached the party of people we received a warm welcome from everyone.

My parents had soon indulged in a boring conversation so I decided to go outside but before I went a man offered me a balloon. I accepted gratefully and proceeded to go outside. Soon I was out and beside the dangerous gurgling waters of the bay. By my side was a large sign. It read:

Danger: Quick changing tides Quicksand Strong currents

of course as I was only six years old, I did not realise what any of this meant. I was curious and wanted to find out what quicksand was.

As I tried to climb over the railings that separated me from the dark water beneath me I felt a strange force holding me back and a voice whispering in my ear : "The sands are cold. Do not choose the same fate that has befallen me. Go back!" The force that was holding me back suddenly grew stronger and I was forced back on to the grass. As I did this I dropped my balloon. It floated a little way up into the air and then hovered over a memorial bench nearby. Then I ran.

Five years later when I came back to the same spot, I saw the plaque on the memorial bench. It read :

Samuel Baul
1903 - 1915
This delicate boy suffocated in the Arnside quicksand.

As I walked away to return to my caravan I heard a faint voice call for me from in the distance : "Thank you for remembering."

Peter Whitfield, South Tynside, UK
00:00 / 01:04
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