“Listen,” my father said. “Tell me three things you hear.”
“I hear the wind,” I said.
“And I hear the sea.”
“I can’t hear anything else,” I said
We sat at the end of the old seawall in the place where the ocean splashed against its wooden railway-sleeper slope. My father’s feet were close to the surface of the rippling water and his gaze was fixed on the distant horizon. I imagined that his ears could hear everything, even people talking on the other side of the world.
I strained to hear what he heard. The gentle breeze played its sibilant song around my head. The ocean rolled over and over, scrapped across the seabed and then leapt and lapped against the seawall.
“The sea is lots of sounds,” I told my father.
He smiled at me.
“Yes,” he said.
But that was not the answer he was looking for. “What else?” he asked.
The sea was so bright: a million mirrors in the mid-day sun. I closed my eyes to shield them from the glare and turned my face towards the sky. Red light, warm and rich, shone upon me.
My eyes flashed open. I jumped up and pointed along the beach, beyond the seawall, to the place where a small group of children were building sandcastles at the ocean’s edge. How had I not heard them earlier?
My father laughed and bundled me up in his arms.
“Well done,” he said. And he carried me on his shoulders as he walked back to the car.