The scarlet kite caught the wind and bounced high in the sky, straining at the string anchoring it to Ryan’s hand. The boy laughed as he ran back and forth on the sands, playing the cord to make the kite swoop and spin on the breeze.Rosie and Alan stood at the water’s edge, their arms round each other, relishing the moment. It had been a perfect day, filled with sun and laughter, and reminded them, as it was meant to, of the fun they’d had as a young family. It was too easy to get bogged down in life’s cares and worries. Sometimes you just had to stop and remind yourself of the things that were really important in life, and for Rosie and Alan it was each other and their kids.“They’ve had a great day, haven’t they?” Alan murmured.“Yes. Jodie might be sixteen and grown up in so many ways, but give her a funfair and a candyfloss machine, and it’s like she’s six again.”
They had happened upon the little funfair pitched on a village green as they drove through, and the kids had begged them to stop. While Ryan had headed straight for the coconut shy, Alan had tested his strength trying to make the hammer ring the bell, leaving Rosie and Jodie to sing along to the music as they rode the hobby horses round and round.Only Ryan had won a prize, a furry pink rabbit which Jodie had instantly fallen in love with, and, little-brother-like, he had traded it for the promise of a loan of her new MP3 player when they got home.Fish and chip suppers all round, eaten, of course, from the paper as they strolled along the beach, had brought the afternoon to a close, but Ryan had begged for one last flight of the kite before heading for home.Jodie caught up with Rosie and Alan and bundled in between them.“Thanks, you two. This was a great idea.”Rosie drew the girl’s arm through hers while Alan put his arm around their shoulders.“You’re not too old to spend time with your old mum and dad yet, then?” he asked.Jodie pulled a face.“Never. Some of the kids at school would say it’s not cool. But they don’t think anything’s cool doing homework, going to classes, working for exams. They think it’s all stupid. But they’re the real losers.”Rosie met Alan’s gaze over Jodie’s head and saw her pride in their girl reflected there. Alan squeezed Jodie’s shoulders.“Don’t ever change, Jodie, will you? Hey, look at your brother! What’s he doing now?” Ryan was knee-deep in the water, splashing and laughing as he gazed up at the soaring kite.He ran back to join them, winding the kite’s string back on to the reel.Rosie looked at him, almost speechless.“What were you thinking?”Ryan shrugged and looked down at his sodden jeans and trainers.“I was watching the kite. I didn’t notice.”Again Alan and Rosie’s gaze met, this time filled with amusement at their harum-scarum son.“He doesn’t get it from me,” she murmured, and saw pretend indignation flare in his expression. Both were remembering Alan doing something remarkably similar when they were teenage sweethearts.Alan ruffled the lad’s hair.“I’ve got some old towels in the boot of the car that I was taking to the recycling bin. We’ll get you dried off.”Reluctantly they turned to head back to the car. The light was fading. It was time for home.“Life doesn’t get any better than this, does it?” Rosie sighed contentedly, her head resting against Alan’s shoulder as the four of them strolled along the beach, arm in arm.
* * * *
Alice’s date with Rob had been an easy and natural extension of their meeting that afternoon, only without the accidental injuries! They seemed to have chatted from the first moment they met at the restaurant, and she felt that if someone had asked her to list all the attributes she would ever look for in a man, Rob would tick all the boxes. He was nice-looking, funny, had a fund of interesting stories from his global travels, and yet he didn’t talk about himself all the time. He had made a point of asking her about her life, her interests, and had been genuinely interested in what she had to say.