Atonement

On Saturday afternoon we went to Margate. Marnie is obsessed with crabbing so we went to the harbour shore to fill her bucket with water. It was windy but sunny, the beach was packed. Kevvy pointed out a pile of various lost toys and balls stolen by the wind bashing against the concrete wall. He wanted a brightly coloured beachball, I told him he’d be mad to go out and get it, the mud is deadly. We stood checking on Marnie as she got her water – there was a body lying less than a hundred metres from us but somehow we didn’t notice it. I guess you just don’t see these things if you’re not expecting to. The person was making no noise, there was no struggle, they must have already been unconscious. We went up on the harbour wall, (now directly above the body). We attempted to cast our net out in the wind, still not noticing the person in trouble below us.

Then a man ran into the water, I thought he was drunk, playing around – then I saw the body, he was panicking, crying for help. A jet ski pulled up, they started performing CPR. We tried to get Marnie off the pier without her seeing anything. I was in shock, we retreated as the crowds ran gorily towards the unfolding scene. I cried – as much for the lack of humanity being shown by the public as they lapped up the drama eagerly, as I did for the person in trouble. I met a lady, she comforted me and we talked about how insensitive people were being. By this point I was really upset by everything going on around me. The emergency services turned up on masse. My mum made me sit down and rubbed my back as I sobbed. Eventually they managed to get the body on a stretcher, the ambulance was right down on the mud, sirens on and they were away.

We carried on with our day, the person was still alive, they were going to be ok, they were on their way to hospital, best place for them I was told. We went to the shops, had a pint, went to a concert. I met the nice lady from the beach in the toilet at Dreamland, we were happy that the person had seemed ok.

The next day we woke up to find out she had died. She was 6.


I know it isn’t my fault I didn’t see her lying there but I will feel eternal guilt. I will always wonder if she still be here if we’d noticed her. I apologise to her parents, family and friends for not seeing her body in front of me. I am deeply sorry for your loss.