Castles by Tom Mahony

December 24, 2012 Comments Off on Castles by Tom Mahony

Water, clean from the mountains, drains into the Pacific. The father watches the boy build a castle in the river-mouth sand. The boy is focused on his creation. The father offers stern guidance on structural integrity.

“It’s listing to the side,” he warns.

The boy says he doesn’t care if it’s “lisping.” It’s his castle and he’ll build it his way.

When he tips the next bucket of sand, the castle collapses. The boy glances up, wide-eyed, crushed. The father considers soothing or scolding or reiterating the engineering properties of sand. But he just studies the boy in silence.

Waves pound against the rocks. The river meanders into the sea, September low.

The boy frowns, grabs the bucket, and starts building again with the same stubborn technique, ignoring all previous advice.

The father nods and smiles. Excellent, he thinks.

© 2012 Tom Mahony, previously appeared in Bartleby-Snopes 2009

Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in California with an MS from Humboldt State University. He is the author of the novels Imperfect Solitude and Flooding Granite. His third novel, Pacific Offering, is forthcoming on November 1, 2012. Visit his website at”

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