The Girl By The Sea

It was a day when the grey oblongs stack up and in to the silvery sky. Sniffs of clouds liked the nose with rain, and the sea crashed like a breaking stainless steel knife being twisted between finger and thumb.

Against the gum metal grey shopfront leaned a vision. It was only later I believed her to be a vision. At the time I was as scared as I was intrigued by the girl. Beneath to heavy eyebrows her kohl lined eyes were like night skies, so thick and heavy that no stars could be seen. I imagine that she was looking straight past me. Her lips were stung red, like her wind beaten cheeks, and wisps if hair that looked as though they had been artistically arranged were now breaking free. In a more bohemian setting they may have been described as infused with the spirit of the age. In reality they were just battered and beaten, like the rest of the world.

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She seemed to be wearing my grandmother’s coat, or at least one remarkably like it. My eyes followed the buttons down to the hem, flapping in the seabreeze, folding upwards like the corner of a present tantalizingly uncurled. Her left knee was bruised, and I immediately wanted to administer care to her war wound. I noticed the bag hanging insouciantly off her right shoulder matched my scarf. I remember thinking how heavy the bag must have been. She leaned with such compensating pressure to the left that it can’t have been good for her. But then I realised that that was what my father would say, and I corrected myself. She was cool.

She moved.

I started.

She held out her arm, proffering a steaming greasy crumple of newspaper to me.

‘Chip?’ she asked.

‘Loser’ she said. I turned. Even when I recognised the air of joviality in her voice, potential criticism uttered by my love still wounded to the soul.

‘My dad used to play that record all the time.’

What record?

The one you’re humming.

‘I’m not humming’ I started in protest, all too aware that she was probably right.

‘I say used to – it’s not even cool enough for him now.’

They focused on the chips. ‘Do you wanna chip, like?’ I asked from the corner of my cap. She twiddled a few strands of hair around her fingers, buying some precious seconds with which to think of something cool in response.

‘Me?’ was what she came up with.

‘Well yeah, but only if you like’ I muttered, still not revealing my true affections in his refusal to make eye contact.

‘Ta.’

She dived in and grabbed the biggest steaming chip in the pile. I watched her as she put the salty food to her lips.

‘Er, it’s got vinegar on.’

I was aghast. Visions of a lonely future spun around his mind. ‘I’ll find you one without’ I said, far too quickly to be cool, and fumbled on the bottom of the chip tray.

‘You could just kiss me.’

‘What?’

Something to do isn’t it.

Fuck. The girl with the glint in her eye, who smelled of wind and rain, who fluttered my stomach and made my head whirl. She wants me to kiss her. The first time. All I could hear was the hum of the shop generator that had now finished its loop, and the blinds clattering against the window. Focus. She just demanded exactly what  I’d been wanting for months. And now I couldn’t. She looked expectantly, and stepped towards him. Her eyelashed licked her lids.

‘Mum’s expecting me home’ I said. We have guests.

I turned and ran. Looking back I shouted ‘Come if you want.’

She bit her lip, so hard that a tear came out. At least that’s what she told herself.

 

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