My pensive mood matched the gentle sound of the waves rippling the shore.
Seagulls swooped overhead, and the refreshing breeze whipped around my face.
I felt sad, because my boyfriend of three months, Greg, an art graduate, had just announced his decision to go backpacking abroad.
“I don't know if it's the artist in me, but I feel so stifled here, Kate,” he explained. “Anyway, what about your estate agent's job? You can't give that up. You're doing really well there.”
I was, but I felt hurt that he hadn't asked me to accompany him - not even for a long holiday.
Even if Greg had invited me, as a 20-year-old only child who still lived at home, my parents wouldn't be happy to see me leave. They'd fret and worry, and the last thing I wanted was to unsettle my folks.
I grasped his hand. “I love you so much, Greg.”
His gaze fell upon my tear-stained face... instead of whispering a similar sentiment, he simply nodded.
“I'll wait for you,” I said.
He looked ill at ease. “Don't put your life on hold for me.”
We bid an emotional farewell, with promises to keep in touch via email, as long-distance calls would be expensive.
Later, needing time alone, I wandered down to the beach.
In the sand at my feet, something sparkly caught my eye. When I investigated, I was surprised to stumble across a beautiful heart-shaped silver locket.
I decided to try and find the owner. I lived in the small coastal town of Farlington, so it should be an easy task.
I took a photo of the locket and uploaded this, together with my appeals to local social media groups.
That evening, I discovered a tiny note tucked away in the inside edge of the locket.
It said: 'Mrs Lambert. 7, Ocean View, Farlington.'
Oh, she must be the owner! I thought. The address wouldn't be hard to find.
Yet strangely, it was. When I Googled it, I discovered that the road didn't actually exist!
Meanwhile, there were no takers from my online appeals.
“Let's face it, if it was so important to the owner, they'd have kept it close and made sure it couldn't be lost,” Mum said.
“You've wasted enough time on it, love. Keep it and stick it in a drawer,” Dad advised.
Reluctantly, I did as he suggested.
Greg didn't email me. I kept busy at work and with several big property sales under my belt, I was promoted.
Eventually, he returned, yet he didn't rush around to re-start our romance. I was disappointed.
“It's sad, but you've got to accept it and move on, Kate,” Mum said.
“You're too young for anything serious,” Dad told me.
He was right.
Time passed and I moved away from Farlington and began a new life in the city, where I bought a nice flat. I found a good group of friends and I enjoyed an active social life.
As for boyfriends - they came and went, yet I never forgot Greg. It seemed, however, that he forgot me.
I recalled Mum's words about the locket: 'If it was that important to the owner, they'd have kept it close and made sure it couldn't be lost.' It echoed the situation with Greg.
As for the locket – I still had it, yet I never wore it.
It didn't seem right somehow, to wear someone else's jewellery.
As the years passed, that little note ate away at me, and I tried to trace the owner of the locket again.
I typed the address into a search engine and hit the enter key. There were thousands of married women with the surname Lambert - but none in Farlington.
On a visit home, I heard that Greg was getting married.
Yet Farlington never changed... or did it? A building works noise alerted me. I looked up and across the bay on the cliff, I noticed new modern apartments were being built.
“That area's been wasteland for years,” Dad remarked when I mentioned it.
“I'm glad it's finally being put to use,” Mum said.
On the day of Greg's wedding, I headed back to the city.
Then on a night out with friends, I met Mark, a vet around my own age.
We quickly fell in love, and when I introduced him to my folks, I was glad they liked him. We stayed in a hotel, and I took Mark for a walk on the beach.
“It's lovely here. This is my idea of heaven,” he enthused.
I smiled. “I'm glad you like Farlington.”
He turned to me. “Let's get married and move here.”
I stopped. “Are you serious?”
“Yes. I love you and I'm fed up with city life. I can apply for jobs at local vets. If I'm not successful – well, maybe I could set up my own practice.”
My heart sang. “I love you, too. I'm sure I could find a job here.” Like Mark, I was tired of city life.
My parents were over the moon when we announced our plans!
We were lucky. We both managed to find jobs in Farlington.
We needed somewhere to live, so we put our furniture into storage and temporarily squeezed into my parents’ place while we searched.
“Why not consider one of those sleek new apartments overlooking the bay?” Dad suggested that evening.
“That's not a bad idea,” I mused.
As an estate agent, I'd heard about the project, but the apartments hadn't reached the completion stage, so weren't up for sale yet.
“Can we arrange a viewing?” Mark asked.
I nodded. I knew the top dog at the property developer company.
As soon as we stepped through the door, Mark and I knew this spacious two-bedder would become our home.
One morning on my way to work, I had a surprise when I spotted local artist Greg and his wife in a beachside cafe.
I knew that when I returned, I'd probably see him around.
He looked the same, yet different. There were grey flecks in his hair, and he now wore glasses. His wife was slim and glamorous. They looked happy together.
Seeing Greg had made no difference to how I felt about Mark.
Our wedding was such a happy, wonderful day!
There was no honeymoon, but I'd booked a day off to have a clear out at my parents. I'd collected so much junk over the years... raking through a bag of costume jewellery, I stumbled across the locket.
I'd never traced the owner, had I? Suddenly, something in my mind clicked, and I gasped.
Of course! I was the owner!
I was 'Mrs Lambert' and I lived at 7 Ocean View, Farlington.
I carefully opened the locket to discover that the note had disappeared.
Perhaps it had simply rotted away over the years.
But now I could finally wear it.
As I fixed the clasp around my neck, I wondered who had pushed the note into the locket in the first place. Was it a future version of me?
Only time will tell...