(As with a number of my short stories this was inspired by the weekly word at the writing group I attend (although the original ‘word’ was waves). This really is a short story at 530 words, but I think it’s complete.)
Greg trailed behind his three children, across the dunes and onto the beach. They were all grown up now of course, hardly children. But then, they would always be his children, wouldn’t they? After all, he had been there when they’d first screwed up their little faces, balled their fists and cried hello to the world. Naked and wrinkled, but perfect in every way.
The eldest, David, put his arm round Johanna’s shoulders, pulling her in, whilst she linked arms with Michael. All three of them so close. It was good to see. It hadn’t always been like that, especially when they were little. It had worried Janet. He’d told her it was all normal sibling rivalry and they’d grow out of it. But, being an only child, she had this naive fantasy about having brothers and sisters. That somehow they’d always be best of friends. Well, at least they were for this moment. With all three together, he wanted to tell them how proud he was of them. How privileged he felt that they were his children. But expressing his feeling towards them had always been difficult. It had been the same with his father. But then knowing what he did of his father’s childhood it was understandable. It was more difficult for him to empathise with his own reluctance. Janet had said they understood, that they knew. Seeing them now he guessed that was true.
They were bundled up, in coats and scarves, against the chill January day. The weak winter sunshine doing little to warm the body against the wind whipping in from the North East. From behind he could almost see them as children again. Those similar days, now many years in the past, when he’d dragged them out of the car to walk along this deserted stretch of sand. It had always been his favourite time of year to come to the beach. Sharing the place with perhaps just the odd distant person and maybe a dog. It seemed such luxury. He couldn’t imagine why more didn’t appreciate it. The smell of ozone clearing the mind. Head high breakers casting mists of spray, catching in hair and eyelashes. Watching the rainbows against the low winter sun. It was the best antidote to the modern, centrally heated world, he could imagine.
Greg hung back as David, Johanna and Michael walked towards the water, braving the chill and the damp. David and Johanna stopped, huddling together, at the furthest reach of the waves. The tide was going out, that was good. Michael continued, the water swirling round his wellingtons, the sand running over his feet. Waiting for a lull in the breeze, he opened the jar, spreading the ashes on the surface of the foaming water. His gaze followed them as they were swept down the beach to be swallowed up in the next on rushing wave. Michael stood, as if in contemplation, for a few waves longer before trudging back to join his brother and sister. Arms around each other they headed back towards the car. Greg watched them go. He would linger for a while. After all this was his favourite time of year in his favourite place.