Once neatly packaged in twos and threes with a bucket and spade in a string bag, the Mouldies were free.
Their lives had been diverse. Loved one minute, rejected the next, chewed by the dog, washed away with the tide, returned to another place.
Bea Pool, an obsessive collector of beach treasures, rescued Mouldies. She had a knack of spotting colourful shapes hiding under clumps of seaweed, or half-buried in soft, silvery sand. Her ever-growing assortment lived in a bucket in the garden shed. Bea would do something with them one day. Maybe make a mobile, hang them in the lilac tree, glitter-spray them as Christmas tree decorations.
Today, there was an inkling of spring in the air. Daffodils and tulips bobbed their heads in the breeze. Excited blue tits were ecstatic to find the nest box on the garden wall still available. Bees buzzed in glee at the weak warmth of the first sunny day in ages.
Pottering in the garden shed Bea looked down at the bucketful of Mouldies. She felt sorry for them, and had an urge to return them to the beach. Once liberated, they might have a new life. Little people playing in the sand, with their families close by, might adopt the Mouldies to make intricate sand patterns (even though Mouldies were pretty useless at moulding sand, according to Bea’s disappointing efforts).
It was worth the gamble. Bea pedalled down to the beach with the Mouldies shuffling around in her rucksack. She released them.
The Mouldies were overjoyed. They had the freedom of the beach. In the distance the King and Queen of Spades and their courtiers were waiting to welcome them.
The March of the Mouldies set forth. The happy gathering posed for Bea.
Bea took pics of her plastic friends so she’d remember. The time had come to leave them to their fate. But she couldn’t. She scooped them up, shoved them into her rucksack and took them back to the garden shed.
Back in the bucket, that’s where they’d stay … … … until the next instalment.