The estate rattled into the car park passing the few cars near the entrance. It slumped to a reluctant stop by the dunes. Absently, Mouse gazed at the foot-well. Sand, sweet papers, a grubby bar of wax and an apple core made up the unwholesome conglomeration obscuring the carpet.

”I really must clean this car” she thought to herself tapping the steering wheel affectionately.

Focussing on the conditions outside she could see small clouds lazily tracking across the sky in the  direction of the coast. The late evening sunshine imbued every surface with a luxuriant golden tint that only September brings. The lengthening shadows from the nearby wind chiselled trees reminded her that there was only little more than an hours light left.

”Shall I check the the surf or suit up?”

She made the internal calculation. whilst scrunching her hair into an untidy bun and then flung open the creaky car door. The lengthening shadows had won out. She opened the boot and peered in at her wetsuit, in damp repose. She pulled her board out of the car and set it down on the grass. As she rose she scanned the car park for signs of life. The few cars at the other end were empty.There was no one around. As quickly as she could she removed her shorts , tee shirt and underwear and flung them into the boot. In one action she pulled on her one piece swimsuit and then more slowly pulled on the clammy wetsuit. A quick look around the area again revealed only a seagull pecking at some detritus on the edge of a large puddle.

Mouse retrieved the wax from the foot-well and thoroughly applied it to the deck of her board. She was up for a good surf this evening. She stowed the car keys under a nearby rock.Tucking the board under her arm she padded down the familiar sandy path to the beach. As the surf came into view a knot of excitement grew in her stomach. The conditions were ideal. A gentle off shore wind , with an overhead swell running but best of all there were banks! The beach is exposed to swell but is infamous for the lack of sand build up.

An hour and twenty minutes later she padded back up the same path relaxed and happy after a wonderful session. The evening sunlight had quite gone and had been replaced by silvery moonlight under a cool clear sky. Mouse wondered if Rob had done the predictable thing and given the kids beans on toast or had plumbed his culinary skills for more exotic fare. She reminded herself that Sara had to take a cheque to school tomorrow for the French trip.

Her mind was drawn back to the surf. The swell had been hefty. A mini-mal rider had his board snapped under one of the unforgiving peaks.

”Silly man ” she thought. ”If he had n’t ditched his board and taken a ducking he would still have his precious board in one piece.”

She was caught up in the warm glow of reflection on her own performance. A short tube and a powerful roundhouse cutback on one of the evenings larger waves constituted a triumph in Mouse’s book.

By now she had reached the car park and was walking towards the trees. Slowly she became aware that she could not see the silhouette of the estate. She stopped, perplexed and wondered where she had left it. There were two cars parked along the beach side of the car park. The dunes cast a heavy shadow over the cars. Censoring herself for being so dopey she walked over to the cars. As she drew close her lack of acuity was replaced by consternation, nether one of these cars were her faithful jalopy.

Puzzled and worried she circumnavigated the car park twice.By the time Mouse was on her second circuit the truth had dawned on her. Some toerag had nicked her car! Involuntarily she shivered, it was fifteen minutes since she had proned in from her last wave and her suit no longer felt warm. Her breath formed tiny momentary clouds in the chill evening air. Suddenly the full seriousness of the situation dawned on her. She was ten miles from home, with no means of communication, no one to ask for help and wearing a wet wetsuit in a dark and cold autumnal night! Someone had seen her when she changed earlier, they must have had an eyeful whilst hunkering below their car’s steering wheel waiting for their prey.

”How low, thoughtless and cowardly…toerags.”

Board under her arm, she stealed herself. She had been in tighter situations.

Mouse started the long walk to the nearest village.

”This will be another good story for the kids” she told herself.