A Deserted Beach
As she walked along the deserted beach, the girl swung her towel and beach bag in time to her step. Her tan showed up well against the watermelon pink bathing costume she wore. Her blonde hair bobbed up and down, just touching her lovely shoulders.
She topped a rise in the sandhills, and saw, stretched out almost at her feet, a young man of twenty-five, perhaps. He had not noticed her. He appeared to be asleep. Only his long, sun-tanned legs were bare, the rest of his body was covered by a large white towel. She looked up and down the beach. All was quiet; isolated. Seeing no other company on the beach, she moved to his side. She stood over him for a few seconds. He was wearing dark sunglasses, so she wasn’t sure whether he was asleep; or awake; or watching her.
“Got a cigarette?” she asked in a deliberately high-pitched voice. He started at the sound of her voice and then rolled to the side, quickly gathering and clutching the towel round his narrow shoulders. His chin was moist where he had dribbled in his sleep. He dropped the sunglasses down onto his cheeks for a second; looked at her, then removed them. Bleary eyes squinted in the sunlight.
“Got a cigarette?” she repeated, and then “Mind if I sit down?” Without waiting for a reply, she sat beside him and accepted the proffered cigarette. Leaning forward so that her cigarette came in contact with the lighted match he held towards her, her weak eves perused his face.
Sudden recognition brightened her face. “You’re from the hotel. You were playing the piano last night, weren’t you?”
“What were you playing?”
“The SonataPathétique,” he answered; then warming to his favourite subject: “It’s by Beethoven; he wrote it when he was…”
“Pattyteek?” she shrieked. “Pattyteek?” She jumped to her feet; then flopped to the ground beside him. “Pattyteek, Pattyteek” she repeated between high-pitched giggles, drumming her heels in the sand like a little child.
He took a long, but shallow breath, and then, letting it out gently between pursed lips, turning his face fully towards her: “I said, Pathétique. Not…” and he left the rest of his words to lie in the hot air.
“Whatever!” she answered, and then “But I’m going to call you Pattyteek. You’re going to be my Pattyteek” and she laughed again, drawing on the last of her cigarette. She pushed the butt into the sand beside her; drew her finger down the corner of her mouth, inspected it, removing a tiny grain of sand that had adhered to the lipstick there. She gazed out to sea for a few seconds. Then, looking around her, she noticed a paperback book lying on the sand between them. Picking it up, she ran her thumb across the edge of the pages. Opened it for a second; closed it. “You reading this? What’s it about?” and then, almost as an afterthought, “…Pattyteek. What’s it about, Pattyteek. Eh? What’s it about”
“I wasn’t reading. I was asleep”.
She sighed. “It’s hot. It’s hot, Innit?” then laughed again. “I didn’t mean the book’s hot… You wouldn’t be reading a hot book, would you?” and she waved an admonishing finger in his face. “That’d be naughty wouldn’t it Pattyteek? Eh? Eh?”
“Can you swim?” he asked.
“Can you swim?” he repeated, slowly and carefully; his voice was flat yet precise. “Can you swim?” and he spaced the words out carefully.
She looked into his face momentarily; brushed some sand from her toes and looked into his face again.
“Dunno. I don’t think so. No”.
“I’ll teach you,” he said, “Come on,” and taking her by the hand, he led her to the edge of the water. As it lapped against her legs she squealed with delight, but when the wavelets reached her waist, she would go no further.
“Teach me to swim, Pattyteek,” she giggled. “Teach me here,” and she slapped the surface of the water with both hands, “Right here!”
“OK. Float on your back,” he ordered, in the same deliberate monotone. “Here, I’ll hold you,” He slipped his left hand under the small of her back and supported her. She lay there, splashing her arms around and up and down in the water. His arm felt strong and supported her securely.
“What now, Pattyteek?” she asked. The sun beat down brightly and she narrowed her eyes to see him against the glare that shone around his bending head. She looked into his face and then started to struggle. With his right hand he pushed her head under the water; slowly and carefully; and held it there. She thrashed her arms and legs and momentarily managed to lift her head above the surface; wide frightened eyes; widely gaping mouth dragging air into her lungs, but he simply pushed harder; turning his body half to the right; putting all the weight of his left side and slender back and shoulder on top of her upturned face; forcing her head back.
Within a few minutes she was completely still, so be let her go. As she sank gracefully to the bottom, a halo of her golden hair fanned out around her pale face. Dead blue eyes peering through the sparkling water at the bright sun. One solitary bubble escaped from between her red lips and rose like a silver jelly to the surface
Taking one last look at the girl, he waded out of the water and walked up the beach to where he had left his towel.
As he dried himself, he noticed that he had scratch marks on his chest and forearms.
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