A Flash Fiction story about a mother and her unfortunate seaside visits.
By Stephen A Abell – 2nd January 2021.
Number of Words – 498.
The woman stood on the beach and stared silently out across the North Sea. Fifteen years she had made the trip to this coastline. Always on the same day. There was more kinship between her and the boundless ocean than she had ever possessed with her family. Theirs was a melancholy connection.
Fifteen years ago, her son had strayed too far in the dinghy she and her husband had purchased. Even today, it astonished her at how fast one could lose sight of somebody in such a complete vastness. The sea had been tranquil that day. Nonetheless, he had still vanished. The coastguard recovered the little rubber boat, but not the body of their son. He remained missing.
They had called the police and coastguard twice a day for news. Within two weeks, this dwindled to once a day. Within two months, it had become once a week. Then once a month. Finally, they made the sullen trek to Whitby every year. Quickly they became known as The Couple, between the chattering locals.
Six years ago, her husband disappeared. She had gone to the local police station to enquire if there was any new information. The Couple had argued over this decision. Her husband had quarrelled, “It’s a waste of time. If they haven’t found him by now, they’re never goin' to find him.” Their son was gone. She left her husband on the parade watching the waves break on the abbeys cliffside. When she returned, remorseful over their disagreement, she could not see him anywhere. She had thought he would be sitting in the pagoda overlooking the harbour. Though, when asked, nobody remembered him. She then hurried down the street to their favourite café. The owner and waitresses had not seen him. An uneasy feeling began growing in the pit of her stomach. Without pause, she hastily rushed to the chippy on the beach. Once again, nobody recalled seeing him. As she cursed him under her breath, she pulled the phone from her handbag. Snapping a photo of the harbour lighthouse, she quickly zoomed into the image. Only a few people were walking on the pier, and none wore her husbands' clothes. She headed down to the beach. From here she could walk back to the car, parked in their traditional spot near the pavilion. In all likelihood, he would be there, sulking dejectedly.
The car was unoccupied and soulless. She had stayed overnight and reported his disappearance to the local coppers. They said he would probably return home in his own good time. All his clothes and beloved possessions still resided in the house, though, he had not returned.
Night had fallen, catching her by surprise. In the dark sky, one star shone radiantly. Its twin glittered exquisitely in the halcyon mirror of the water. The reflection shattered and calmness rioted as something emerged from the depths. An old familiar chill enshrouded her. Something was coming towards the beach. Towards her.
Nobody went home that night.