19. Skimming Stones

19. Skimming Stones

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



I’ve only ever seen the sea once before,” confessed Darren as they walked along the sea-damp sand and leapt aside occasionally to avoid the last foaming dribbles of a dying breaker.

Is that all? We go somewhere every year, abroad once or twice recently, but beautiful Cornwall other times,” said Jennifer, not really aware that her words might be looked on as boasting.

I’m not saying we didn’t go on holiday,” said Darren, “just that we didn’t have seaside holidays! My dad was from a farming family, and we spent the odd week on his brother’s farm. That’s all. But I did go to the seaside once, on a school trip.”

Jennifer bent down and picked up a flattish stone, smooth as seaside stones often are.

To think,” she said, “this will have started off as a rough and jagged lump of rock and it’s been tossed about by the waves for longer than there have been people on the Earth, which has worn away all the rough edges and left it smooth as a baby’s bum!”

Time and water do all sorts of things,” agreed Darren.

Then Jennifer threw the flattened stone underarm towards a wave as it rolled gently towards them. “See how many bounces it does,” she said as the stone spun off the water at least half a dozen times.

I can do that,” said Darren, “it’s easier when the water’s a duck pond at the farm, but I’m sure I can skim a stone over the sea…” and to prove that he could, he did.

That went further than mine!” exclaimed Jennifer, and at that began a light-hearted battle of the sexes with skimming stones as the weaponry.

But there’s only so much fun that can be had from such activities before it crosses a teenage mind that hours have passed since their fish and chips in the town, and that anyway the light is fading and they might think of getting a bite to eat from the provisions that have brought with them.

So hand in hand they wandered back towards the Dunes Camping Site.

Nothing had changed. There were still two caravans and two tents, one of them their own. Both Ada and Davy were sitting outside their office in deck chairs, he smoking a pipe that filled the air with an unpleasant bitter stench as he puffed on it whilst Ada was reading a magazine and scowling at pictures of pretty young models that seemed to be all legs and bosoms.

Halfway across the field they couldn’t help noticing the two from the other tent, and this time they were crawling out of it together and, once out and having zipped up their entrance, fell into each other’s arms in the most romantic gesture of desire imaginable.

That’s a change from earlier,” whispered Darren.

Ah! They’re in love,” breathed Jennifer, “it’s how I feel when I’m with you,” she added, “come here, my darling,” and without giving a clue what she was about to do she put her arms firmly around him and pressed her mouth against his. Needing no more incentive, he responded in kind, and for a few moments anyone flying in from outer space would have been forced to conclude that the human race consisted of pairs of individuals joined together at the mouth.

So intense were their feelings that neither Darren nor Jennifer heard the sound of a caravan door slamming shut until a voice imposed itself on their joint consciousness.

Do you mind!” it shouted, “such disgusting displays of filth! Please, not in public!”

The speaker was a man, a little over middle-aged though it was hard to tell even though the distance wasn’t great, overdressed, bearing in mind the weather, in what looked like several layers of clothing. His face was red to the point of threatening to explode and he was looking directly at Jennifer and Darren.

Darren had to say something. He knew that he did, in order to defend the character of the girl he knew that he loved, so he whispered “half a mo” and strode towards the speaker.

Don’t cause a fuss,” hissed Jennifer.

I won’t. If there is a fuss it won’t be me causing it,” he replied.

Then Darren paused when he was closer to the caravanner. “What filth?” he asked.

The man took half a step backwards and turned to glance towards his caravan as if looking for support. Then: “Are you threatening me?” he asked.

Darren didn’t understand the question. Of course he wasn’t threatening the fellow! For a start, he was still far from being close to him. So he merely repeated “You called it filth. But what filth?” he asked.

The caravan door opened and a second man looked out, middle-aged, overweight, balding.

Don’t you cause any trouble, Jasper,” he said in a more reasoning tone, “the youngsters are only being like you were when your good lady was alive, and it’s not their fault that you can’t any more.”

But in public! Ann would never have tolerated such filth in public!”

She did, and so did you. Remember the Algarve? A couple of years back?”

But that wasn’t public! They were all foreigners!”

Now you’re being silly. Come back in!”

The second man from the caravan, dressed much more reasonably for the weather than was his companion, approached his companion and gently led him back towards their van, turning to Darren and shaking his head sadly. “The poor fellow lost his lovely Ann only a few months ago. He’s finding it hard to adjust.”

Okay,” replied Darren, “just tell him my Jennifer wouldn’t stand for filth…”

Take no notice. Be a good fellow. We’re just two old widowers trying to make sense of life without our ladies, that’s all.”

I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” said Darren.

How could you have. Now if you’ll forgive us…” And the two men disappeared into their van, its door closing behind them with barely a click.

Poor fellow,” whispered Jennifer when Darren rejoined her, “we must try to remember that whenever people look at us they see what we’re doing against the backdrop of their own lives…”

Darren nodded. “Of course,” he murmured.

Come on then! I’m starving, and I’ll bet you are too,” she urged, “we’ve still got some sandwiches.”

Excuse me,” called Darby, the young man who was still intimately close to Jenny, his wife, from the other tent.

Yes?” asked Darren. The other looked to be around his own age or not much older, had a pale complexion and a broad smile.

I heard you on about being hungry. There’s a pub about a hundred yards down the road, and they do the best steak pie I’ve ever tasted. Home made, they say it is, and I reckon it must be home made by a wizard. We’re going there… would you care to make it a foursome?”

Jennifer could see that Darren was hesitating, and she didn’t fancy sandwiches which may be getting stale. “Give us a couple of minutes,” she said before he could say anything, “we’ll catch you up.”

Okay!” called Darby, “see you in a while, then.”

I need to change out of these jeans,” Jennifer told Darren. “You’re okay in shorts, but I’m roasting!”


Steak pie! Did you hear the man? And we’re both hungry enough to eat a horse each. Come on! I’ll not be a second, and we’ll go and see what those two are really like.”

Darren nodded. “Of course,” he sighed.

© Peter Rogerson 17.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 17, 2021
Last Updated on May 17, 2021
Tags: beach, seaside, stones, quarrel, widower


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..