by Jo Roscius
The tide lapped lazily upon the white sands of the shoreline. The slow rhythm unbroken only by the mild breeze carrying the sounds of distant gulls. The skies reflected a brilliant glory of a cloudless day, most unusual for the fog banked climate of this coast.
It was a day full of promise and wonder.
A small child stood on the shore staring into the horizon. The sun created a halo of light in his golden hair as his sea blue eyes gauged the distance. Like a trebuchet, he pulled back his olive arm, a small stone in his hand.
With a grunt, he threw it, pouring his infantile strength into sending the stone to the very edge of the horizon.
The boy watched breathlessly as it flew in a magnificent arc high into the sky. His hopes were soaring.
And then it dropped with a loud splash, punctuating the futility of the boy’s goal.
A small cry of frustration escaped his lips as tears began forming in the corners of his eyes. “I’m never going to make it,” he said despondently.
He stood there for a moment. Tears hitting the sand as they left a salty taste in his mouth. The boy was so focused on his failure, he almost did not notice the gentle hand that had been placed on his shoulder where only the sun’s rays had been moments before. He heard a gravelly voice, like that of his grandfather’s, “Never stop trying, my lad.”
Turning, the boy looked into the face of a white haired man whose wrinkles were without count. The sunlight caught a playful glint in the old man’s eyes as he smiled at the boy.
The boy, lifted the back of his hand to wipe away the tears as the man handed him a handkerchief. “But sir, I’ll never make it.”
The man stood, keeping one hand on the boy’s shoulder as he gently shifted his weight from a kneeling to a standing position. The boy had never seen a man as old as this one move so gracefully.
The man spoke to the boy while staring at the coastline “My son was a lot like you when he was your age.”
When the man mentioned his son, his eyes suddenly turned distant as if his mind was no longer on the boy in front of him. “There was once a battle fought on these shores. Did you know that lad? The men here thought they were dying to stop all wars.”
“Did they win?” The boy felt himself pulled toward the words, completely forgetting his own failure.
The man shook his head, “No.”
There was a pause as the man drew a breath and looked at the boy.
The man smiled again, “But lad, look toward the seas. Look at those birds. Even the sunlight. They all are telling us to keep trying.”
Gesturing with his hands he spread them wide at the ocean, “‘All creatures of our God and King. Lift up your voice and with us sing.’ Isn’t that how the old song goes?”
“I’ve never heard it sir.” The boy’s eyes were squinted as he tried to remember.
“No matter, when you get to be my age your memory will be foggy too.”
“How old are you sir?”
“Too old to remember. But not so old as to never stop trying.” The man grinned to emphasize his repeated lesson.
“It’s only a small splash when I do try, sir. I can never make the stone meet the sky.”
The man gave him a quick pat, “But even a drop causes ripples. And maybe one day those ripples will reach the sky.”
The man picked up a stone himself and with a speed the boy did not expect, he skipped the stone over the surface of the water. It seemed to the boy the stone must have made at least seven jumps.
The boy bashfully looked from the sea to his feet wondering how he could attempt such a feat. A small, perfectly round stone was there beside him. It was odd, the boy did not remember it being there before. On an innocent impulse he picked it up and threw the stone as hard and as fast as he could muster.
This one flew in a stunning arc as it sailed further into the distance than any throw he had made before.
He jumped up and down with excitement as he turned back to the man, “It went further that time!”
But the old man was gone.
The boy looked far and wide along the coastline but no one else was there. The only sound were those of the gulls and the tide.
Thinking the old man had returned to the village, the boy headed back up the trail to find him.
He passed an ancient wall of ivy, where his eyes were drawn to a slab of granite hidden beneath the vines. He must have passed by it a thousand times but this time he was suddenly drawn to it.
He pulled the ivy back and brushed the surface, finding old weathered writing.
The boy was not a proficient reader but even he understood the significance. It was a marker dedicated to the soldiers lost in the long forgotten battle.
Underneath the clutching grasp of the ivy, fresh white lilies surrounded the slab, and the boy thought he heard the whisper of a promise on the wind, “Never stop trying.”
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Jo Roscius is a new writer with a background in philosophy. Her favorite authors include JRR Tolkien, Brent Weeks, Ted Dekker, and Robert Jordan. When not focused on her writing projects she enjoys hiking and watching movies with friends. Her website is jroscius.wordpress.com.