'Rockpooling' by Sharon Telfer

“Look, Daddy, look!” She strains upwards, on tiptoes, arm, fingers, whole body outstretched, willing him to see. The black pebble gleams in her starfish hand. “I found some jet.” She plants it in his palm. “That’s not jet!” Her brother pulls at his sleeve, trying to get a better look. “It’s not, is it, Dad?” “Well, it does look like jet.” Unlikely, he thinks, and too heavy. “Let’s see what else we can find.” They lean their long shadows over the pool. He takes his daughter’s hand. Her sea-wrinkled fingers curl round his like suckers. Last summer, he had held onto her brother as tightly. Now the boy crouches at the edge, old enough to balance on his own. The green weed sways softly. A crab scuttles under the overhang. He names mussels for them. Barnacles. Sea squirts. They giggle at the words. Twice a day, he says, the waves come in and wash the pool clean. No one but them will ever see it just like this again. He glances up. The tide has turned, sooner than he’d expected. “I know what we should try to find now.” They look up, their faces like sea anemones, opening for what he will say next. “Mummy! And what was Mummy going to get?” “Icecream!” The boy is already away. Hoisting his daughter onto his shoulders, he strides after, calling warnings of seaweed and slippery rocks. The pebble, drying now to grey, lies forgotten, as the tide creeps in behind them. (First published on Faber Academy blog, Runner-up in weekly QuickFic competition, April 2016)

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