Their Beach by Steve Campbell
© 2016 Steve Campbell
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published and designed by Steve Campbell.
Cover photography by Daisy Campbell.
Thank you to everyone who helped with putting this little book together; the endless proof readers (too many to mention here), the friends and family who read and re-read the many drafts, and of course to Barry and Jean for letting us share their beach.
It’s the first time his son has been on the beach, so he takes him by the hand and guides him towards the water’s edge. The sun has almost fallen behind the horizon, leaving a sliver of light that warms their faces and highlights ripples on the surface. As they reach the water, the cool sand underfoot dissolves into gently lapping waves, that make his son step backwards and look up for reassurance.
‘It’s ok, it’s like bath time.’ He releases his son’s hand, so that he can discover the water for himself, and watches as a small palm slaps the surface, sending droplets into the air. There are home movies of himself doing the same thing, thirty years ago.
Squatting down, he rests a hand on the back of his son’s head and brushes the blonde hair with his fingers.
‘Can you see that hill?’ he asks as he turns and points. ‘There’s a path up there that my grandparents walked along. I’ve been up there, and so have my mum and dad.’ He watches as his son dips fingers into the water. ‘You can go up there when you’re a little older, but for now I’m here to carry you.’
His son looks up, holding out five shiny fingers; wet from prodding pebbles below the surface.
‘You’ll be skimming those better than my brother soon. Alfie’s a champion skimmer,’ he says as he fishes out a small stone, and tosses it casually into the sea.
Along the beach where his grandparents first met, a dog bounces around a mother paddling with her children. Seeing the dog, his son makes a ‘wuhh’ noise and totters off towards it. He follows close enough behind to be there when he’s needed, while giving his son the space to explore.
In the years after they married his grandparents continued to visit the beach. They spent endless summers here, first as a couple and then later as parents. When their children grew to become adults, they came back too. His aunt and uncle had crossed the world to watch this sun setting; the same light that faded as his parents vowed to marry.
His first holiday had been on this beach, and he’d returned throughout his life. His son will do the same, and later as a man, he’ll stand here with his own children.
His grandparents’ life together had started on this beach, and without that single moment none of them would be here now. All the memories they’d made, and those they were yet to make, were all for them. They were here on their behalf, this is their beach.
Scooping up his son, he joins his wife and older children paddling in the sea, on the spot where his grandparents first met.