Charles spends the holiday learning knots. There’s a book in their rented cottage alongside leaflets for Blackgang Chine (coupons expired the previous year) and slightly frayed postcards from the waxworks museum in Brading. She tries Charles with these, might be nice places to go, and he glares at her and returns to the book’s coloured illustrations. Tumbling thief knot, he reads. Alpine butterfly bend. Clinging Clara. He laughs and it feels like the first time in years. Clara like you, Mummy!
She gives in as she knows she must. Goes to find a shop selling rope – just thin, just light. There are places in Cowes catering for the many yachtsmen, luckily, and Charles seems to regard the outing there as more of a treat than the Dinosaur Museum or Robin Hill adventure park. A holiday should be a time to do exactly what you want and this holiday is the best chance they’ve had to do that for too long. Clara drinks camomile tea and reads novels and Charles knots, from time to time demanding props – a small anchor, a hook.
Not that one, she says when he takes too much interest in the Strangle knot. Surely not that. He gives her a look as if he understands, but continues anyway. His father’s son. Then he asks for more rope. In the shop, the chandler smiles sympathetically. And by the end of the week Charles has mastered the Good Luck knot and makes her a gift of it as a keychain.
ANNE SUMMERFIELD’s recent publications include stories in Sleep is a Beautiful Colour (NFFD Anthology 2017), and in the 2017 Flash Fiction Festival anthology. Her story ‘Lamb’ was nominated by Ad Hoc Fiction for Best Small Fictions 2018. She is based in Hampshire, England and tweets infrequently as @summerwriter