For Other Reasons
They were discussing The Project.
Sitting on floor cushions in her hut,
sipping coconut water, deep into
debate, when thunder exploded
Mandy hurried to close the old fashioned shutters before the rain smashed in.
The hotel had a number of small cottages hidden in the foliage . A naturalist would vomit at the artificial environment, but Mandy wasn’t a naturalist.
Mandy was one of a dozen academics employed by a large American University which had received funds to do a seminal work on a particular island. The sum was generous enough, the rate of exchange favourable enough, the airline package enticing enough, to send the large group to clarify minor points about the lives of early settlers which were destined to become footnotes.
Mandy and her group had been here three days, each off on his or her own intellectual pursuit. She, tired of dusty rooms and hot roads, had decided on a swim, and was just on her way back to her hut when she encountered Tim who was also taking a break on the beach. They greeted, exchanged business related words, then moved to lunch on the terrace.
Tim had recently ended a relationship with a woman he ought never have been involved with. Mandy would be thirty eight in October.
They were deep in discussion as to the importance of flax as he walked her to her cottage. She had gleaned a great deal of information which Tim was avid to see.
Closing the windows
They entered the airy circular room with its large windows and large sponge cushions.
She offered him a sheaf of photocopied documents she'd gotten from the archives of
the local newspaper, then went to the tiny fridge which she had stocked with coconut water.
In a short time they were discussing the devastating effect synthetic fabrics had on the
local economy when came the first explosion of thunder, the cascade of rain.
Mandy had moved quickly to close the shutters. As she latched the last she realised
they were now in a twilight world of greys, imprisoned by the angry rain.
She held, frozen for a few seconds as the intimacy of the moment was very much in
evidence. Slowly, she turned to look at Tim.
He faced her. His hand had been moving towards the lamp, now, held in midair.
Mandy stood as if balancing on a narrow bridge above a chasm.
Her eyes saw a not unattractive man about her age. Her body knew what would
happen if she took the few steps. The pounding of the rain on the zinc roof of the
hut was matched by her heart.
Her heart, which recognised the potential; but her brain did not dance in love
or lust or anticipation; “I will be thirty eight years old in October.”
And that is why she crossed the room.