Emmanuel looked down across the beach to the distant water. There was more sand than he remembered, and certainly more people, but he knew this was where his father had brought him many years before.
He had been woken while it was still dark, had a jumper forced over his head and carried down to the shore. The spring full moon was disappearing into the horizon but gave off just enough light to see the tide was lower than ever before. His father put him down at the edge, his feet recoiling at the cold, clammy mud, and they started looking for tiny key-holes in the surface. They had practiced drawing them last night and his father had taught him the importance of walking calmly as the clams could feel their movements and would burrow out of reach if frightened.
Once they had found their first one, his father handed him a metal rod, with a bend at the bottom. It was the handle from the old umbrella Grandfather had given them for their trip to Houlgate last year. As he’d been shown, he plunged it fast and deep in line with the hole, twisted it half way round and steadily pulled it up. With it came the long, elegant shell of the clam.
The last moonlight shined the glossy coat of the oozing creature hanging from the bottom, desperately searching for a way back to land. The electricity of the hunt was warm across his body and the dull ache of his naked feet in the cool ocean stopped. He wanted more.
A tug at his jeans brought him back. He looked down at his boy, already older than he was that morning.
“Daddy, are we getting ice cream now?”
“Not here son. Not now.”