• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 03
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Moments You Regret Not Being There For

He hadn’t meant to call her but he couldn’t stop himself even though it was nearly midnight her time. Below the surface of her words, he was could detect false notes ringing like sonar in the deep.

- All by himself, without water wings? That’s great, really. It’s great you’re having such a good time together.

- Only took a few hours. He should have learnt years ago.

And, just to make sure it hurt.

- I’m sorry you couldn’t be here to see him.

He promised to send her a photo of the boy swimming but he didn’t. Lying on a sun lounger he kept half an eye on the boy paddling and watched a shoal of fish in the middle of the lake leaping like they were eager to feel the warmth on their backs.

For the next three days the boy practiced his new skill. He would hitch up his board shorts like a workman tackling a tough job, sit on the edge of the jetty, legs dangling, and then lower himself slowly into the water. For up to an hour at a time he did a careful breast stroke in circles round the wooden struts, under the boards, swim twenty metres to the shingle shoreline and then back out to the jetty again. When he got tired he would stretch up and grip the bleached planks with the tips of his fingers and bow his head, water droplets running from his shoulders, his chest rising and falling while he got his breath back.

The man checked his text messages. Hi, don’t forget to send a picture/Get Sam to phone me at bedtime but only if he wants to/ Would love to see a photo of Sam swimming.


Moments You Regret Not Being There For

He pressed delete. On the last day of the holiday they went to the jetty as usual.

- How about diving in this time. Give it a go.

The boy walked to the edge and wriggled his toes to probe the rough edge of the planks, feeling his way between solid earth and thin air.

- Just tip forward like I told you.

The boy grinned. He raised his arms above his head, bony shoulder blades forming rounded wing buds. With a cry he fell obediently towards the lake surface.

The man focussed and clicked. He checked the picture. He wrote a text: Hi! Sam also learnt to dive! He can’t wait to show you! He attached the photo to the text and pressed send. He waited to see if she would respond.

The splash of fish jumping made him look up. Shading his eyes against the setting sun he watched in vain for the first four small finger tips to appear and grasp the edge of the plank.