‘Do you think he can see us, Mum?’
‘I think so, sweetie.’
Jack gazed out at the ocean, mesmerised by the lapping waves. The sun sank low in the west, whitecaps flickering beneath a fiery orange sky. The dull hiss of the breeze through the dunes behind them. A seagull bobbed on the gentle swell.
What a difference a week made.
‘Just a short trip out, lass. Some good mackerel ’round that headland. Jack, stop blubbin’, I’ll only be a few hours. Save some stew for me…’
Emma swallowed past the lump in her throat, blinked back tears. Only six days since Eric had been cruelly snatched from them. A churning grey sky, wind howling against the shutters as waves lashed the shore.
The wreckage of his fishing boat found washed up in the next cove, smashed to splinters.
Saucy Sue had returned.
Dear Mrs Wilkins, it is with deepest regret that we inform you…
‘Can he see us, Mum? Is he out there?’
She scrubbed a hand across her eyes. Sniffled. Squeezed Jack’s shoulder.
‘Of course he is. He’ll always be with us. C’mon.’
She pressed a battered gold watch into Jack’s hand. Flashed him a watery smile. ‘Let’s give him a goodnight present, alright?…One…two…three!’
The watch arced through the air, glinting in the sunlight. A faint splash. The seagull erupted from the water, calling mournfully. It circled high above them, fixed them with a piercing eye before soaring away towards the horizon, the sea a shimmering blanket of gold beneath the setting sun.
Emma shivered. Jack huddled against his mother’s waist, raised a hand to the fading sunset.
‘Night, Dad,’ he murmured.