A Seaside Break

Shutterstock © A row of colourful beach huts

In this uplifting short story, Polly’s carefully laid out life plans had come crashing down, but would things turn out all right in the end?

Polly jogged to a stop, pausing to catch her breath and the view.

A row of beach huts painted ice cream colours licked one side of the promenade, a squall of hungry seagulls echoed through a crisp blue sky, and frothy waves lapped across the glittering sands.

It was the first time in months she’d felt her heart glow like the sun.

Unlike everything else in Polly’s life, the move to Sea Bay was unplanned. The company she worked for as a Project Manager had begun restructuring the business, and as a result, Polly had found herself in a tearful conversation with her boss, Liz.

“We can offer you three months pay as a redundancy package,” explained Liz. “Or you could interview for another role within the company, but it would be at a more junior level.”

Polly bit her lip; neither option had been in her life plan. Her next steps were supposed to be Senior Project Manager, and then Department Head.

She felt her stomach sink, nausea rolling in waves.

“My parents have a holiday cottage in Devon that’s standing empty. Why don’t you take an early summer break?”

Polly stared at her best friend, Tanya. Polly didn’t particularly like taking her entitled Annual Leave in case it slowed her career progress, let alone when she should be searching for a new job.

Tanya laughed. “You said you didn’t have enough money to cover your city rent for long. Anyway, a slower pace of life would do you good.”

Polly didn’t want to seem ungrateful but now wasn’t the time for a holiday.

Her plan had always been climbing the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, but the mounting job rejection emails in her inbox weren’t helping her plan.

“Thanks,” said Polly, “But the longer I’m out, the harder it will be to find a senior position.”

Tanya’s eyes crinkled, not unkindly.

“Polly, do you even like your job?”

The question took Polly by surprise.

“I can’t remember the last time I heard you laugh, or even look happy.”

“Well, I…” Polly thought about it for a moment – long hours, pressure she put on herself to get ahead, office politics… Was it really what she wanted?

Or, in her rush to get ahead, had she lost her way?

Tanya interrupted. “Please. Just think about the holiday cottage. Sea air and long beach walks might help you figure out what you really want in life.”

The sun cast a warm glow on Polly’s face. She breathed in the salty air and exhaled her worries.

Maybe Tanya had been right, she was definitely less stressed than when she’d arrived at the seaside a few days ago.

“Better than the gym, isn’t it?”

Polly turned, just as a woman appeared beside her in running tights, vest, and trainers.

“Three miles, in forty-two minutes; a new record for me,” said the woman, glancing at her sports watch.

Polly grinned, having felt the same uplift in her mood just a few minutes earlier. She’d forgotten how much she loved to exercise before work had taken over her life.

“That’s great. Do you run often?”

“I try. But it’s hard to motivate myself alone. The miles stretch when there’s no one to talk to. I’m Sarah, by the way.”

Polly had never found the time to make new friends – always too busy in the office. She wouldn’t mind a running buddy while she was here.

“We could run together sometime? I’m Polly. I’m staying at my friend’s holiday cottage.” She grinned, “While I sort my life out.”

Sarah smiled. “I’m Sarah. And now you’ve got me intrigued. I love interfering in people’s problems, and maybe you can help improve my running time.”

“Tell me everything,” said Tanya when she called Polly.

“Time flies when you’re having fun. You know how it is.”

Polly relaxed back in her chair, smiling. After helping her new friend Sarah improve her fitness, word had got round.

Suddenly Sarah’s friends were asking if Polly could train with them too. Sarah had excitedly suggested it could be her new job.

“So I’ve signed up to re-train as a fitness coach.”

Tanya beamed. “You always loved sports at school.”

“It wasn’t in my life plan,” said Polly, “But a change of scenery has given me a new perspective.”

“See – sometimes the unexpected isn’t so bad,” smiled Tanya.

Polly grinned. “Sometimes it’s so much better.”

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