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Katie Dickerson, 26 Aug '12

“Water isn’t blue,” I heard my son Michael say.

“Isn’t it?” I said, and returned to my book. He crawled on the couch and pushed it out of the way.

“Hey,” I said. I picked it up and started flipping through the pages, trying to find my place.

“Look.” He shoved a glass of water in my face. “It’s clear, but everyone says that’s blue.”

“People say that because water looks blue in an ocean or lake,” I said.

“But why?” He frowned.

“I don’t know. It has something to do with the way the water absorbs and reflects light, I think.” I found my place in my book. “Look Michael, I’m trying to finish this.”

“You’re always reading,” he sighed.

I started to read again. He sat on the other end of the couch, glass of water in hand, staring at me sullenly. I pretended not to notice.

“When are you taking me to the beach?” he asked after a few minutes.

“We live three hours from the beach,” I reminded him.

“You’ve never taken me,” he said. “Mum hasn’t either.”

“It’s October,” I pointed out.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I want to see a beach. Too see if the water is really blue, like you say.”

“It is blue,” I said. “Everyone says it because it’s true. I can show you some pictures of the ocean later, if you want.”

“It’s not the same as seeing it for real,” he said, pouting.

I went back to my book. I heard him slide off the couch and walk into the sitting room. A few seconds later the TV turned on and I breathed a sigh of relief.

~

“I can’t pick up Michael,” Liz said. The line crackled and her voice kept cutting in and out.

“You have to pick him up,” I said.

“I can’t,” she said. “There’s flooding down here and all of the trains have been cancelled.”

“Damn,” I exhaled.

“It’s not like you have to work tomorrow.” Pause. “Or ever.”

I clenched my teeth. “I have things to do,” I said.

“Like what?”

I hesitated for too long. “That’s what I thought,” she said.

“Liz, please.”

“See you on Tuesday,” she said, and hung up.

I shoved the phone into my pocket and went into Michael’s room, where he was colouring a picture of a dinosaur. He clenched the crayon in his fist and pressed it down hard.

“Your mum can’t come pick you up tonight,” I said. “Her train was cancelled.”

He continued colouring and didn’t pick up his head. “Mum was going to take me to do something fun tomorrow since school is shut.”

“Staying here will be fun,” I offered.

“Can we go to the beach?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

He sighed and kept on colouring. The crayon broke through the paper but he didn’t stop.

“I’m sorry,” I said. He ignored me.

I left the room and closed the door.

~

The sun was shining bright the next morning. I stood in the kitchen and squinted out the window. It felt nice, standing in the sun.

I heard Michael shuffle in behind me in his slippers. “What are we doing today?” he asked.

I turned and smiled as best I could. “Going to the beach,” I said, brightly.

His eyes lit up but he wrung his hands nervously, as though he couldn’t quite believe it. “Why?” he asked.

Because I feel guilty. Because I want you to like me. Because I want to look like a better person than your mother.

“Because it’s a nice day,” I said.

He smiled. “I get to see the ocean,” he said.

“That’s right. Go get dressed.”

We got into the car and Michael rolled down his window.

“It’s going to be loud once we get on the motorway,” I said.

“That’s okay,” he said. “I just want to be able to see it all.”

We couldn’t hear each other over the rush of air and cars, so we didn’t talk. It was easier that way.

The car park at beach was deserted, as I knew it would be. I parked and we walked up the path, sand crunching under our trainers.

“Can I run ahead?” Michael asked impatiently. I nodded and he took off over the dune.

“I see it!” I heard him shout. “Blue!”

I caught up with him and we looked out onto the ocean, dark blue and glittering in the sun.

“It’s not the same blue as the sky,” he said. “I thought it might be, but it’s darker.”

“Which blue do you like better?” I asked.

“The ocean,” he said. “I see sky blue all the time.”

He wanted to touch it, so we walked to the shore where tiny waves lapped at our feet. He bent down and stuck his hand in quickly.

“It’s cold,” he said. “Like an ice cube but wetter. Touch it, Dad.”

I crouched next to him and let the cold water run over my hand.

“Too cold,” I said. “Let’s go play in the sand.”

The sand was wet and cold too, but we dug in with our hands and made a little mountain range to surround us. Michael decorated his mountains with pebbles and bits of sea glass.

“I should have brought a bucket,” I said. “Then we could have filled it up with sand and used it to make castles. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Michael said, smoothing out one of his mountains.

“I’ll bring a bucket next time,” I said.

“We’re coming back?” he said.

“If you’d like. We can come in the summer when it’s warmer, but there will be more people.”

“I like it right now, just the two of us,” Michael said. “It’s like we own the ocean.”

“No one can own the ocean,” I said. “It’s too big.”

“I bet you could,” he said.

I put my arm around him. I had forgotten how small he was.

“No,” I said. “But it’s nice that you think so.”

Comments · 5

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  • Katie Dickerson said...

    Untold Tales entry.

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • Mary Beth W. said...

    I like this ^^ I think that it's rather sweet

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • Drew Ewing said...

    Fantastic. Completely fantastic. I covered quickly to the characters and the dialogue was authentic. Great job. I connected to this story and I love the honesty of the ending.

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • Angela Watt said...

    I really loved this Katie. It was a heart warming piece and like Drew said the dialogue was well done. Lovely debut.

    • Posted 4 years ago
  • Metta H said...

    At first I thought the child threw the water into the woman's face. It wasn't until the second time you mentioned the glass of water, I realised what you meant. The second sentence was much clearer. Right from the start, I wanted to ring that boy's neck. It was a shock to me when the boy called the woman Dad. All the time, I thought it was the mother's sister minding the child. The characters were interesting. I wanted to read on and hope to find out what happens to these characters further in their lives if you choose to write more about them.

    • Posted 4 years ago