In the public shower room of the beach, the Failure stared into the mirror and saw misery glaring back. The morning’s humiliation still ran hot through his arteries. Unwanted reminders bubbled up: failing the test, the bullying instructor, the derision of his fellow candidates. The lifeguard certificate that still sat, unsigned, in someone’s drawer. Months of building himself up, slaughtered by a few mistakes and grossly unfair assessment. He zipped up his dark grey wetsuit, picked up his bag and headed to the beach.
Ignoring the sun baking his scalp, he walked along the sand. He weaved through crowds of obnoxious ball players, screaming spoilt brats, harassed bickerers and slumbering lumps of fat scorched too red. Beyond, at the edge of the beach, the sand petered out. Instead slabs of wet rock greeted the incoming surf. He clambered over them, away from the courting couples giggling annoyingly and the odd loners keeping their own company. He climbed further from the crowds, around ever-larger boulders, until only the seagulls could see him.
There he set the bag down. Still seething with intrusive thoughts, he pulled the wetsuit cap upon his head and clipped on the tools of his petty revenge. Flippers, snorkel. To his back he tied a large plastic shark fin.
Leaving his bag and grating conscience on the rocks, he waded into the sea. The slimy embrace accepted his cantankerous advance, and with snorkel between seething jaws he swam back towards the oblivious throng.