A child finds lost earrings in the sand and puts them in her mouth. A seagull picks the corpse of a small-mouth gruntfish and crystal jellies and egg-yolk jellies lie holding in their inner folds the balance of life and decay. Seaweed pops on the rocks. Dry stubbly grass pokes from broken shells and reeds stand up ecstatic in the wind. Sand candies it all. The waves come in lashing their glass nerves at the slope before pulling back across the bay and I run to the water, take a blind fall in the wash. The blessed cold cleans me. She comes carrying my son. The baby smiles watching his parents kiss. Chip vinegar stings my lips. Toes curl down in the sand. Nature forgets itself. She feeds him as it goes dark and together we watch him roll and gurgle on the rug. Up she leaps to find something to drink and my son turns his head to her shortening silhouette. And then I see something unfamiliar in him. Someone I don’t recognise. There she comes, waving her arms so the light of a cigarette traces neon nests in the night. A large wave rolls in. We grab everything and retreat behind the line of seaweed but a bag of clothes is left to the water and I run to retrieve it, and when I return I see them together and my heart knows that it is all a lie – that he is not my child. I put my arm around her waist and she holds the bottle away from my mouth and pours. I gag as the red wine runs down my chin and she kisses me again. The baby smiles.

by Joe Evans


Joe Evans is a TV Producer who lives and works in London, UK. He writes short short fiction and novels. His flash ‘Simple’ appears in the April edition of ‘Flash: The International Short Short Story Magazine’.

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