The app notification took the edge off the vista, but it was nothing really. Tim shifted the vibration in his pocket to the back of his mind. It was important to stay in the moment, and what a moment it had been.
Tim had felt the seawater slapping against the wooden pier underneath his feet. He had smelled drying seaweed and salt and gritty sunscreen. The low-throttled thrum of a water-ski in the distance had mingled with the babble of his children playing in the sand, arguing softly about who was in charge of building the sandcastle. A wisp of cloud trailed across the sky, its presence only serving to illustrate the expanse of blue above it.
The buzzing in Tim’s pocket had brought him out of his reverie. Dazzle from the dappled water forced him to shade his eyes as he looked at the screen of his mobile phone. It was a notification from an app called ‘Zenith’. One of those downloads that is installed and then instantly forgotten, Zenith claimed to be able to predict the highpoint of a person’s life. Tim had scrolled through the pseudoscience that claimed to cross-reference life expectancy, horoscope, heartrate, family medical history, economic forecasts, and frequency of ablution in order to predict when a person will be happiest in their life. Nonsense, of course, but a bit of fun. At least it had been fun until the little icon had popped up on his screen to inform Tim that that moment, the most blissful in his life, was right now at this pier on this beach on this day. If true, that would mean that life never got better than this; it was all downhill from here. And who knew how far downhill? Chronic pain? Drug addiction? Murder? Incarceration? What about the kids? Was it really such a thing to know your best moments? To have everything to scale?
Bickering proper had broken out amongst the children. A wind was picking up over the bay. Tim turned and looked at his kids, freshly quietened by their other and with downturned, studious faces fixed upon their granular ramparts and dirty-brown moats.
He deleted the notification. If this was the best it got, then it really wasn’t so bad.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, Cafelit, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order.