The pebble skipped across the water, hit an incoming wave, flipped and sunk into the grey shallows.
“Five bounces Dad.”
“Best one yet Billy. We call them skips, when the stone bounces like that.”
The boy picked up a stone of his own and launched it. It went more sideways than forwards and landed with a plop.
“You’ll get there Bill.”
“I’m too small Dad. I will when I get bigger though, won’t I?”
“You will son, you will.” He ruffled his son’s tangle of blond hair that shone even in this miserable, murky light. It looked like rain. They turned and walked along the water’s edge, enjoying the sound of the waves breaking on the pebbles and the rattle and sigh as the water withdrew, rolling the pebbles with it.
“I’d like to live here Dad. Would you?”
“I’d like to Bill. Your mum wouldn’t though, she can’t stand the water.”
“If we lived here she wouldn’t have to come with us to look at the sea though Dad, she could go shopping.”
The man smiled. He envied the innocence of the child’s mind and the questions it generated.
“It’d still be too close for her bill. Your mum doesn’t just dislike the water; she can’t bear the sight of it.”
“Why’s that Dad?”
They continued walking along the shore, their feet sinking between the pebbles that rattled under their feet.
“Let’s make a move now son. We said we’d meet Mum at 2 o’ clock. She’s probably loaded down with bags and needs our help. Feeling strong Bill?”
The boy picked up a last pebble, crouched down and threw it, his arm straight, in a sweeping motion. This time it didn’t go sideways.
“Well done Billy boy.”
The boy ignored the compliment.
“Why’s that Dad? Is it because she likes shopping?”
“You and me like walking by the sea. Your mum feels good walking in the town centre.”
The boy wasn’t looking as a grin stretched across his father’s face.
“Sometimes Bill, sometimes.”
“Sometimes always Dad.”