Maria slipped off her boots and socks, shivering as she plunged her toes into the ice-cold sand. Staring out at the wild sea she realised her neighbour had been right after all. She’d mocked the suggestion at first, but now she could see it with her own eyes. A long ridge of wave was caught solid in its tumble to the shore, frozen, as if time stood still.
It reminded her of the time her mother had told her the story about the frozen sea. A true story. Sometime during the war – she and Aunt Jenny – they’d called it the ‘white hard snow’. A frozen wave just like this one.
Oh, the stories they would tell of having to make do with what they had, no meat, no butter, no coal, but still they seemed to look back on that time fondly – especially the way they talked about the frozen sea. She remembered the way their faces had lit up in the telling and wished she’d paid more attention; the memories were fading now.
Maria walked to the water’s edge. Slivers of ice floated and rocked in the foam, and she bent and dipped her hand to lift a few shards, crushing them between her fingers before flinging them out towards the frozen wave. The tension she’d felt since leaving the house was melting, though she grew colder by the minute.
‘Mum, Mum…’ she turned and saw her daughter racing towards her.
‘Mum, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break it… I… I didn’t do it on purpose.’
Maria recalled the fragments of glass inlaid with intricate white lace patterns. Swallowing back the remains of her anger, she took a deep breath.
‘I know you didn’t do it on purpose, Annie’, Maria caught a strand of her daughter’s hair as it whipped about her face and tucked it behind her ear. ‘Let’s sit over there on the rocks for a moment…’
‘I only have a few things that belonged to Grandma and that plate was very special to me… some things just aren’t… replaceable.’ Annie nodded solemnly.
‘You miss Grandma, Mum?’ she said, absentmindedly drawing stars in the sand with her finger.
‘Yes, I miss her a lot Annie.’
‘Well, at least you have me and Aiden.’ She looked up with a cheeky smile.
Maria squeezed her daughter’s shoulder.
‘Look, can you see over there?’ She pointed her finger, directing Annie’s gaze to the water’s edge.
‘What is it, Mum?’
‘The sea is frozen, shall we go and see..?’ but Annie was already on her feet and running towards the shoreline.