Stunning photo from this wonderful and talented man,
whose blog is worth an entire coffee-sip-filled morning
I’m going to find three pebbles, that will do it. The gate to the beach is as ancient as I feel and needs a smart nudge with my knee to open; the paint, licked off each summer by a tongue of salty breeze, has worn to a soft sage green. The wood shows underneath, the pale ash colour of Astrid’s hair. She is everywhere. I have heard her laugh in the swish of the pine trees as I climbed down through the forest, feet sliding on the loamy, sandy path. The emerald manes of the needles, swaying in clumps on the trees beside the path, are the exact shade of a pinafore I sewed for her when she was a tiny sprite of a child.
I make my careful way across the little bridge and out onto the ochre sand. At last, I feel my ankles begin to relax; they are petrified by arthritis these days and I struggle to walk where once I raced. There, by the lacy spume of the water’s edge, are the glossy black winks of the pebbles I have gathered here for decades. I pick up three immediately; there is no luxury of choice today. I have no time to hoist their heft in my mottled hand, no need to appraise their form, the lines and curves that make the shapes I looked for.
No, today I need three. Talismanic number. The magic number of fairy tales; three wishes will be granted my pretty; three princes came riding; three nights for Cinderella to dance in an insubstantial blur of frangible shoe and gossamer. The way that everything feels today, so unreal and delicate today; so fragile and insubstantial.
I will throw the pebbles one by one. I have my mark. There is a fire-ravaged trunk, a leftover from some teenage bacchanalia, standing stark and charcoal-black against the dirty yellow of the sand. If I hit it once, she will be well. If I hit it twice, she will come home and I will see for myself that she is well. If I hit it thrice, I may ask for a miracle; that she will come home and bring a talc-scented woollen cocoon, whose heft on my shoulder will put my heart back together.
There must be no option of missing all three shots. I lift my arm.