Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free Drinks Free Food and the Ocean

There was no use struggling. The rip had caught me. If this was my last hour then it was a good one. She was on the beach, tired from her struggle. She had somehow found an edge to it and she stood naked on the shore. She would perhaps be cold now, caught by the storm, the adrenalin subsiding. She might be shivering or numb. Either way she would be beautiful with her salt slicked hair and her pale skin turning a bluish tinge.

The ocean was taking me away from her. I was glad of this. I had been gliding along in her wake for far too long. I had become pruned by my moist desire for her. I had lost pieces of myself to the nip of fish. I let the water take me gently out into the thud of heavy rain. The sky lit up, a sudden realisation catching the edge of clouds. Below me there would be sharks. All of this, and me relaxing into it.

Eventually she would return to the tent, and the man with his muscles. The man who put up the tent. We barely knew him, but he was here, sleeping beside us, carrying our bags. He was here for the tent. She needed someone to put up the tent. I bobbed into the dark and the memory of me trying to take one of the bags.

"No." she told me, "that's what he's here for." To carry our bags. To put up our tent, to buy us drinks at the marina. I look at men differently through her eyes, but I am uncomfortable in this new incarnation of myself.

Let me tell you about the time she went to the supermarket. I have remembered this story so often I wonder if I might be repeating myself. No money for food. We have both whittled away our savings. There is nothing left. There is a packet of lentils in the cupboard that my grandmother has sent to us. She lies on the couch listening to The Cocteaux Twins. She rolls her eyes at my concern.

"I will get us some food. Write me a list."

She writes the list for me because I imagine that she will prowl the supermarket in a big coat, slipping cans and packets into the various pockets. I have seen her take things before, not often, but I have seen it. I suppose there will be some leniency if we are only stealing a loaf of bread. Okay. Bread then, but she writes Camembert and polenta and marinated olives. She makes a note for coffee and for milk and for cream. Cake, she writes. She has a sweet tooth, chocolate, and because she knows that it is my favourite she writes LINDT in capital letters beside this. She creates a feast of eggplant and haloumi cheese and extra virgin olive oil.

I slump onto the couch just as she bounces out of it.

She changes, a short silk skirt, her best bra with white flowers embroidered onto it, a low cut shirt that shows off the bouquet in the places where it rests on the delicate curve of her breast. She wears lipstick and she smells like an ornamental garden in spring. Beautiful.

She returns. She returns with a man driving a red sports car - are you sure I haven't told you this already? The scene is tattooed onto the tip of my tongue. He is attractive, dressed in a casual but expensive suit. He is rich. I can smell it on him. He is holding four shopping bags in each hand. I suppose he is not used to lifting such a weight. I notice his fingers trembling, but it is probably because she is standing in front of him in that short skirt and an obvious lack of underwear.

Groceries. Brie, olives, a nice white box for a desert, proper cake from a proper baker.

Her lipstick is perfect. She hasn't even kissed him. She doesn't kiss him goodbye. She giggles. She allows him to leave the bags on the front step and she waves as if he were already a long way away. I suppose he was.

I remember this as I drift out into the wild night. Storm, rain, her standing exhausted on the beach. If this is my last hour then I am fine with it. I see her raise her fingers a little, a tiny anemone wave, but I am already quite far away.

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