Saturday, 14 July 2012

Fish

I saw her on our first day at the beach, standing waist-deep in the water just a few yards from the shore. Her skin, a dark mahogany hue, seemed an unnatural shade of brown, at odds with the pale blonde hair she’d tied back beneath a faded denim cap.

Each day after that, I watched her standing there, though I don’t think she ever noticed me, or anyone else; her gaze focused on the water that rippled round her hips. At first I didn’t understand what caught and held her attention; I thought it strange that she never looked up to the horizon, neither out to sea, nor back towards the beach.

Then I noticed the small plastic bag she’d carried with her and I watched as she pulled out a crust of hard Greek bread and held it just below the surface of the sea. In seconds, the water’s gentle lapping became a broiling cauldron and though I couldn’t see them from where I sat, I knew that just below the surface there were dozens of small fish fighting to get close to the dangling crust.

In no time, the bread had all been eaten, but still the water continued to churn. She lifted and flicked her hands; it was almost the gesture of a magician, but I wondered if the fish had reached the end of the crust then kept nibbling, teeth clinging, to the ends of her fingers.

After a while, she returned to the sunbeds at the water’s edge. Each day, she picked her way carefully over the shingle to the same spot, the same two beds, one empty under the bright sun, one occupied by the man who waited. Sheltering beneath an umbrella, protected from the heat, his skin was all shiny-pink and mosquito-bitten. His eyes were hidden behind dark glasses, the glasses focused on his kindle; I never saw him look towards the sea, or watch her return from the water. I never saw him speak.

When I went for a swim just after her, the water was still full of shimmering, shimmying fish. I stood for a while and watched them circle around me, just as they had around her, weaving and dancing, drawn closer and closer.

Later, as I sat eating a sandwich, in my own spot on the beach, I looked over to where she lay, eyes closed, face to the sun. I saw him, curled on one side, his back towards her, his kindle held close. As my fingers held on to the crust of the hard Greek bread, I had an almost irresistible urge to cross over and give it to her, I wanted to tell her to dangle it just above his mouth. I wanted to see him shimmer and shimmy, dance around for her attention. I wanted her to force life back into her own cold fish.

30 comments:

DC said...

This sounds like it could be the start of a story. Why is he ignoring her? Maybe she has betrayed him and now he can't forgive her. So many thoughts come to mind. A lovely piece of writing Sharon. Paints a picture in my head so vivid, that I think I have seen them on holiday too.

Pat said...

That last para did it for me.

Shea Goff said...

Oh, I want that for her as well.

Philip said...

That was magnificent.

Philip said...

That was magnificent.

"As We Speak" said...

Who can write 7 paragraphs and leave you wanting more...YOU!
Philip said it best, when he said, 'magnificent!'

OpinionsToGo

kenju said...

You reminded me of the fish in the ocean when we went to Cancun.

Maybe she liked her "cold fish" just the way he was.

Mary-Colleen said...

Perfect, right down to the last word. Just perfect.

Nicole said...

Brilliant, in every sense. It is as bright in my mind's eye as it is intelligent.

Clearly, your vacation bore fruit, I hope it was relaxing as well.

Technogran said...

Agree with Pat. The last sentence makes it so poignant. Lovely Sharon and thank you for bringing some of the sunshine back with you.

Joe Pereira said...

Lovely post Sharon, and the last paragraph is a gem - two people sharing whatever it may be, and it is certainly not a lot, it seems :)

Linda Myers said...

Nice!

Jennifer said...

I always love how you end things. This was great.

Bobby Stevenson said...

Sharon, you're a very class act and this just reflects that. Beautiful writing. x

Bill Dameron said...

In most fish stories, the big one gets away. In this one, the details are so vivid that it will be with me for a long time. Wonderful story, Sharon.

Sharon Longworth said...

I often think the very best thing about this blogging malarkey is the generosity of the comments people leave - thank you for each and every one of them.

DC - thank you for giving me some ideas to play with. I'm dead glad you liked this.

Pat - thank you. I wonder what the world would be like if, just sometimes, the things we wanted for others actually happened.

Shea - well.. the power of wishing maybe?

Philip - thank you.

Philip - you liked it so much you said it twice???

Sharon Longworth said...

OpinionsToGo - in my head you are a super-power, flying around the internet, making everyone feel just fine! Thank you.

Kenju - oh dear - just think what havoc I could cause if I didn't have sensible people like you reminding me that there are always two sides to a story... thank you!

Mary-Colleen - too kind by far. Thank you.

Nicole - thank you - a gorgeous holiday, just wish it had been longer!

Technogran - thank you - and I absolutely love your new avatar - you manage to mix wise and sultry so well!

Sharon Longworth said...

Joe - thank you. 'Two people sharing whatever it may be' - there's a whole world of stories in that sentence!

Linda - thank you, really glad you liked it.

Jenna - the endings are the bit I always struggle with, so I'm dead glad this worked for you.

Bobby - oh if only, but thank you - I shall hold onto that comment and bring it out when I'm feeling glum!

Bill - thank you - I'm really pleased you liked it.

Nessa Roo said...

That was truly wonderful.

Nari said...

Why is it so common for a person to lose sight of the magic and beauty in those nearest to them? If only a piece of bread could bring that magic back, I think we should all invest in Greek bread quickly.

The Idiot Gardener said...

Spot on. I didn't like him from the moment I found out he had a kindle!!!

Hillary said...

Yes, that damned cold fish needs to shimmy and shimmer for her.

You caught everything you wanted to, or at least it feels that way to this reader. It was magnificent and I wanted more, though the ending really had that punch. Your posts are almost always short but absolutely brilliant. I still remember the story you wrote a long time ago about the white coat and its cold fish lady.

Jayne said...

Magnificently magical, Sharon. How she must love the attention from all the little fish. Funny how it's often so hard to get the same from the bigger ones.

Sharon Longworth said...

Nessa Roo - too kind, but I'm glad you liked it - thank you.

Nari - I guess it's all too easy to see in others what we fail to see in ourselves and those we love. And, as for investing in Greek bread - well anything that will help their economy sounds good to me!

IG - I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has that reaction to a kindle!

Hillary - I'm so flattered that you've read and remembered something from ages ago - I hadn't made that connection at all, but now I see that, yes, she was another version of a cold fish - thank you for the reminder!

Jayne - thank you! It did look as though she really relished the attention and the sensation.

Eryl said...

Great: what I find really fascinating about this is that vouyeristic 'I' passing small judgements and wanting things for people s/he doesn't even know. Perhaps because I'm guilty of such things myself, it resonates. Good stuff, Sharon.

Cle Reveries said...

... only a word: AMAZING!!!
THANKS!
<3 <3 <3

Lady Jennie said...

Great post. She sounds way too alive to be with such a dull dude.

Lizzie said...

Ooooh. Fantastic. Wonderful. Please write a book with all your stories. They are so full of real, bright life.

Happy Frog and I said...

I would love to know more about this couple and the tensions you observed between them. Wonderful writing Sharon.

Jacksquatch Detangled said...

Do you have a book in the near future? I'm sure you are asked this all the time, but the writing is amazing on many different levels.

Very inspirational.