* * *
Stuart picked up a sharp pebble and attempted to skim it across the sea. "No," he said, frustrated, feeling his cheeks redden; burning against the cold winter air. Trying again and again, Stuart knew it was no use. He just couldn't do it like his father once taught him.
The sky was clouded over, white and grey the colour of the day; coldness biting the air while the sea was calm but a ferocious shade of blue accompanied its silent hum.
It was mid January and a few days before Stuart's thirteenth birthday. His mother and sister were in the toilets after Cassie dropped ice cream down her clothes. "That's what you get for eating ice cream in minus two degrees," his mother had said. She wasn't angry though. She didn't really get angry anymore.
With one last sorry hope, he positioned himself like he remembered and threw a pebble with all of his might. He felt a tear prick his eye and looked down at his hands. "Idiot."
"Son, you need a flat angle, remember?"
His voice sent a thrill of relief through Stuart's heart and he felt himself grin.
He didn't move. He daren't move.
Despite the excitement in his gut, Stuart reminded himself that he had to impress him.
Yes, it was all coming back to him now. The Sundays where his father had unwavering patience with him as he became more and more annoyed at himself. "I just can't do it," Stuart would complain, distressed. "Son," his father would reply. "You already are." Stuart would always be confused at this point and he cursed himself for never asking what he meant by that.
He wanted to run up and hug his dad but he couldn't ruin the moment. His eyes stayed focussed on the sea and its dance. No one else was on the beach and it saddened Stuart slightly. Whenever they could, it would be where he and his dad would spend their time. Two best friends and the seaside. If only he could muster the courage to turn and make his dad chuckle; share one of their silly jokes again.
No one ever felt like laughing anymore.
A heavy weight pierced through Stuart's arm but he lifted it, brows knitted together, and prepared his flat angle. It took him a few minutes, but this time, he knew it was perfect. He closed his eyes and breathed in the sea air. "That's it, son." With those simple three words that meant everything to him, Stuart threw the pebble and it skimmed the sea seven times, his heart accompanying the staccato jumps.
Turning with no trepidation, there was also no falter in his eager smile becoming a frown. Around him, the silence deafened him and he felt too numb to cry. Despite the clouds rolling in, the sky refused to rain. Before him stood the truth; the truth that left his heart burned with chill every day.
"I can't do it anymore," Stuart whispered, a raindrop of sadness in his eye but Stuart rubbed it, not allowing it to be seen by the day; he wouldn't give it the satisfaction. "Nothing's been the same since you died, dad. I just can't do it."
Light tried with all its might to remain, but it thinned and soon lost against the deep grey that persisted. Yet, in the quiet anger Stuart felt, the clouds shouted and tears stayed in the sky. The wind that braced the beach now, whispered, "It's all in the trying, son."
* * *
Have a fabulous day!
Seaside Air & Pebbles,
The Girl in the Moonlight.