Her sister’s children were playing in the shallow surf, running up the long streak of wet sand as each wave licked the shore. They became braver each time, letting the foam wash their toes, their feet, their ankles. Soon they would be knee deep.
‘It’s not too late, you know,’ Amelia said. Her sunglasses clutched at her face like a beetle. ‘You’re young enough.’
Anna sighed and turned to her sister. It was a conversation that crept on them always; Amelia nudged and Anna pressed back on the invisible wall.
‘I know,’ Anna said, ‘but Richard…’ She stopped talking, there was nothing more to say about Richard.
She plunged her fingers into the soft sand, and it pillowed away from her. Her finger caught on a shell. She brushed the sand away. It was faded pink, like an old scar.
‘Besides,’ Anna said, turning to face her sister, ‘I’m still not sure I want to.’
‘You want to,’ Amelia replied, wiping the last smear of sunblock from the baby’s nose. ‘Here,’ she passed the baby to Anna.
Anna held him close. He was ripe with sunblock grease, salt, milk. She breathed him in—he was like a bone warmed by the sun.
Emmeline, yelled at her from the waves to come swim with them.
‘Of course,’ she shouted back, ‘I’m coming.’
She stood, clutching the baby tight, and passed Amelia her hat and sunglasses. A knowing smile pulled across Amelia’s lips. Anna shook her head and turned to the children.
‘All together,’ she said, and ran laughing to meet them.
The water grasped at her ankles, cool like the underbelly of a stone. The baby was fat in her arms. She swung him around the swarming children, shrieking with delight.