Pebbles

By: ailsaandlisa

Jul 22 2011

Category: short story

1 Comment

Aperture:f/6.3
Focal Length:42mm
ISO:200
Shutter:1/100 sec
Camera:E-520

Dishwashers are a boon, she thought, one evening, stacking it with a plate and a bowl and a mug, one knife, fork, spoon. Though it’s difficult to fill it up now. Funny really, when you think of all those years I spent drowning in, no, suffocated by, no, crushed under piles of washing-up.

Suffocated, more like she’d been, by the washing. Always something to get clean. Dennis’s cricket whites, when they were younger, that had been his passion; then Harry’s rugby kit, like an archaeological find; Paul’s football stuff, not much better. The girls had cleaner hobbies, suppose that was to be expected, all Jane ever wanted to do was play the piano, and Louise, forever drawing and sticking things in scrapbooks. Still they’d all done well, made something of themselves. Jane was a teacher now, Louise a designer, the boys still played sport at weekends. She was proud to think she had happy children. She’d always encouraged them in their interests. Your passion is your soul, she’d always said.

She said it now to the little ones, Paul’s two and Jane’s one, she didn’t see much of Louise and the baby, too busy and far away. The others came to her some days their parents worked and she fretted about them and spoiled them like she’d done with her own. Jake and George liked Lego and trains, Ella liked collecting things – shells, gemstones, little dolphins. Many a gift shop she’d trawled through, finding bits and pieces for her girl. She loved getting away. Saga coach holidays. Some nice places she’d been – Tenby, Scarborough (with an excursion to Castle Howard), Chatsworth and the Peak District.

Last time, she’d brought her granddaughter back some pebbles from the Firth of Forth. She left them in an M & S bag in the hall, ready to give to her the next time she came over but then in the middle of the night she woke and worried they might be radioactive, you hear about such things, so she’d got up, walked through the dark to the kitchen and boiled them. They made a noise like the sea in Brighton, that weekend she’d told her mum and dad she was staying at Sheila’s then had gone down on the train to meet him instead. She watched the stones seethe and bubble and wondered if he was still alive. And she knew that each time she wondered, each day, each night, it was less likely.

When the pebbles had been in as long as hard-boiled eggs she thought they were probably done and fished them out onto kitchen roll with a slatted spoon. Then she unlocked the back door and carried the pan into the garden. She stood next to the cool grey lavender and undressed in one movement, like a slip of a girl. Then she poured the water into her grandchildren’s half-full paddling pool and by the loving light of a tired old moon she climbed in and bathed in it.

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