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21st February
posted by amber

Man on the Beach II

My son would not leave his computer and go outside from the time he was six years old. By age 10, he was pasty white and overweight, with top marks in all his subjects at school except phys ed, and no friends at all.

He liked to buy things online, especially second hand things: old electronics, vintage board games, collectable toys. When he told us he’d found a used metal detector that he wanted, his mother and I were happy to foot the bill. I don’t think he realized that he’d have to go outside to use it.

Now, metal detecting is not exactly aerobic, but Jeff at least got some fresh air and sunshine. He met other boys – odd boys like himself, it’s true, but they were friends and they introduced him to different pursuits. Marc got him into paint ball. Haj taught him about competitive kite building and flying. Jeremy got him swimming.

My wife has a phobia about airplanes and for the first 20 years of our marriage, our holidays were always by car and never far from home. But I regretted the loss of the family trips I’d enjoyed as a boy, winter vacations to tropical spots where I could dive in the reefs. I love diving.

When my wife began to take spa weekends with her girlfriends, booking into a downtown hotel for two days of pricy pampering several times a year, I asked her if she’d mind if I took Jeff on a trip to the Turks and Caicos.

Jeff enjoyed diving but you can only dive a couple hours each day, and I could see that he found the rest of the time boring. We were on a remote key with no internet service and he didn’t like the beach – it was either too hot for him or too windy. He wasn’t a big fan of the food, since he doesn’t like fish. I felt certain it was our first and last island holiday together, but he surprised me by asking if I wanted to go again the next year.

I saw why when we unpacked our suitcases at the hotel. Out came his old metal detector.

We’ve had six trips since then and it’s always the same. We dive in the morning. After lunch I set up on a beach chair with a cooler of beer, tunes on the head phones and a good true crime paperback; Jeff covers himself with sun screen and heads on down the beach with his metal detector, a shovel and a little strainer to see what he can find.

It’s perfect.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

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