'The Pebble' by Maria Watson

Last year, Maria hosted a book club evening to discuss her choice of book, 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' by Edmund de Waal.

Maria invited book club members to bring along a small object, which was in some way special to them, and to write a piece or recount a story about the meaning or importance that each object held.

To discover more about The Hare with Amber Eyes click here: http://www.edmunddewaal.com/theharewithambereyes.html


The Pebble

Henry darted across the beach, as something sparkling in the tide line caught his eye.
  ‘Look, I've found an emerald!’ he cried, ‘Captain Jack Sparrow must have lost it from his treasure chest. Shall we be pirates and take it back to him?’
  Big Sister picked up the ‘emerald’ and explained that it was probably a shard of glass, blunted by the sea. And no, she didn't want to play pirates, she wanted to top up her tan. Undaunted, Henry surveyed the rest of the family lying prone on their towels, and selected the next person to draw into his game.
  ‘Let’s bury Dad in the sand,’ he said, handing me a spade. ‘The pirates might come and rescue him.’ I confiscated the spade, dropped the ‘emerald’ in his bucket and offered to help him hunt for more treasure.  Delighted to have won Mum’s undivided attention, Henry rifled through the seaweed as we ambled along. He pounced, then held out a crisp black mermaid’s purse by one of its tendrils.
  ‘That used to have dog fish eggs in it,’ I told him.
  ‘What’s a dog fish?’
  ‘It’s a little shark.’
  ‘Ooh, watch out for the sharks!’ he yelled, eagerly scanning the horizon for triangular fins. No luck today, but the mermaid’s purse was carefully placed in the bucket.
  Next, Henry spotted a stranded jellyfish, desiccating on the sand. He sprinted off to prod it, ignoring my shouted warnings about its sting. I gave chase, grabbed a shoulder and pivoted him around by the top of his head. His ginger hair felt coarse beneath my fingers, his pale face flushed with fury as he tried to face me down and I saw everything I dislike most about myself reflected back in him. I shoved him away from the creature but was appalled when he tripped backwards over a rock and started to scream. Picking him up and cuddling him, I told myself that I was the adult, I should behave better. We both calmed down and I checked him over for injuries. Brushing the sand from his legs, I was relieved to find not the welt of a jellyfish sting, but a scrape which could be wiped clean with a tissue. Real blood! Seizing his advantage, Henry asked for an ice-lolly to make it better. For once I agreed, disregarding my healthy eating principles, to mitigate my guilt.
  On the way back, he tracked a line of circular pebbles embedded in the sand.
  ‘They’re nice and smooth because they knock little pieces off each other as the waves tumble them together.’ I explained. Then I recalled Big Sister telling me that Henry and I always rub each other up the wrong way because we are so alike and that I should give him a break.
   He picked up a small grey pebble, banded with white marble, and pressed it into my hand.
  ‘Here’s the prettiest stone on the beach, Mum.’
  ‘Thank you, sweetheart. That’s too precious for the bucket,’ I replied and slipped the treasure into my pocket.



PHOTOGRAPH 'Pebble_netsuke' by Maria Watson © MARIA WATSON