A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Still in a deep coma, Bernie continues to dream of his childhood...


Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality…

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality…

The words, stripped of meaning by his lonely shadowed world, throbbed in his head as he became aware of a slight lightening of the dark grey insubstantial fluff that was the entirety of his Universe,

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality…

But what’s a landslide? I’ve heard the words before. Land, slide, two words that make one, landslide ...but what does it mean? What does anything mean? And reality … what’s that? Which plane is reality and which plane isn’t? And what’s that sound finding its way through the gloom?


Water splashing … if I could remember what a sink was I’d say it was water splashing into a sink, but I can and I can’t.

Maybe it’s the sea lapping onto a shore at the edge of the land, lap, lap, lap...

The light. The point of light inside his head is shining on a world he might have known, or if not on that world, on a shadow of it. Reality or non-reality.

Come on Bernie, smiles mother, the woman who never stopped smiling unless she was frowning and slapping his legs, which once in a blue moon she didCome on Bernie, wrap this towel round you and we’ll slip your nice new swimming trunks on. Nobody will see you getting undressed, and then you’ll be able to paddle in the nice warm sea water, at the edges where it splashes onto the sand…

My feet sink into the sand as if it was quick sand, but I have no idea what quick sand might be, just that my head knows that feet can sink into it like it did yesterday…

The image changes, slips back a day… Yesterday, no blue trunks, just old grey school shorts.

Mummy, I’m sinking … mummy help…

And he was sinking! His bare feet were going deeper and deeper into the sand, he could feel it, cold and damp and gritty, rising up his shins as he sunk ever deeper into it. Quicksand … so this is quicksand, it sucks a body down, right down to the bowels of the Earth, and further.


That was him shouting, loud as he could with his young boy shrieking lungs, and a man came to help when he saw mummy was sinking too. He reached for Bernie with one hand, and he let him pull him out until he thought his arm would detach itself from the rest of his body, but after a titanic struggle he ended up standing next to the stranger, on firm sand again.

There are patches of this here and there, not many and you were plain unlucky wandering into one, he said to mummy after he’d pulled her out. And mummy, half in tears and half laughing, thanked him… you’re too kind, sir, Mr… er, too kind...

Barry never sunk in. But then, Barry wouldn’t, though it seemed to Bernie that he sneered at them for needing to be helped, as if walking on sand without sinking in was all they needed to do.

The man kissed mummy on the cheek! And her gratitude was so immense that she kissed him back, and Bernie had never seen mummy kiss a man before. It was … horrible, threatening the unity of family, of love, of togetherness, and he ran off, across the sand to where it was dry and safe, and flung himself down and cried.

They never saw that man again, though mummy was misty eyed when she mentioned him… such a nice man, so helpful...

And the image changes again, back to wear it was.

Nobody could see anything they shouldn’t as Bernie wrapped the towel round himself and pulled his school shorts off. Yes, he was on holiday, at the seaside, and wearing his grey school shorts, last year’s and not the new ones for a new term.

His scruffy grey school shorts.

Now, Bernie, slip into these, said mummy, holding out the trunks she had made specially for me, and he did as he was told. He pulled them up and grinned at her. They were comfortable and warm like trunks ought to be

They’re dead smart, mummy…

And they were. A nice navy blue, mummy always said he looked nice in shades of blue, He was her little boy blue, she often said that.… And she had knitted them. They were perfect, really, really perfect.

They’re better than your trunks Barry, he boasted.

And he ran to the edge of the sea and paddled. Mummy had said the water was nice and warm, but it wasn’t really. It was cold like ice and he shrieked about it being cold, leaping as high as he could with bent knees, and a naughty word in his head.

Don’t be a silly boy…

But he wasn’t going to let Barry know how he hated that cold water, especially as his younger brother was splashing next to him, wearing his swimming trunks from last year, the ones he’d liked back then, the ones that no longer fitted him.

So he sat down in the cold salt water, getting his body used to its chilly wetness and trying not to shiver..

And then he stood up.

I should never have stood up.

He could feel those brand new trunks sagging down his legs, wet and a little bit sandy and getting colder by the second, hanging down with all the water they’d soaked up, even threatening to slip off his waist. He wasn’t going to let that happen: no sir, not him!

So he held onto them at the waist, quite frantically, while the other end, the bit that went over his bottom, drooped further and further down as the weight of the water that had soaked into them stretched them.

Mummy! Mummy!

She looked at mhim and smiled. She actually smiled, as if what she was looking at was even the least bit funny, which you can take from Bernie it wasn’t.

Mummy, they’re falling off me!

I was desperate, and in my head, not the head wearing the trunks but the head looking on, I heard the refrain no escape from reality, no escape from reality in a powerful rock ‘n’ roll voice

Come here, Bernie, and we’ll put your grey shorts back on, and I’ll see what I can do to make your new ones fit better…

And then he was wrapped in the towel again and she was fidgeting with those horrible navy blue new trunks, trying to get them to fit properly, and they wouldn’t even though she managed to pinch his stomach as she tried to roll them up just in case that might make them fit.


And then, as the light in his head became a headache and faded to mush, he felt that pinch again.


And Bernie Walpole was being turned over by an over-enthusiastic nurse whose job it was to make sure he was both clean and had no bed sores worth worrying about, and in the sparkling world of reality she accidentally pinched him.

Ouch resonated throughout his mind and got quite close to forcing his eyes open.

Quite close, but not close enough.

© Peter Rogerson 28.04.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 28, 2018
Last Updated on April 28, 2018
Tags: Bohemian Rhapsody, seaside, swimming trunks, quick sand


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..