Where Dreams Are Made
by Jennifer Walmsley
Hot air smells of garlic and sardines cooking over glowing embers. My hand touches his skin sticky with sun lotion and scented sweat. He stirs but doesn’t wake. Around us, the sounds of an idle sea wash over me in a sun-soaked haze. Above our heads, a parasol flaps its straw tassels; its shade covers our bodies but not our feet.
I curl up. Watch his profile. See one eyelid flicker in a dream. Is he dreaming of our future here; a life we’d planned together so meticulously? A corner of his lip turns up into a smile as if reading my thoughts. Over the past eighteen months, we’ve reached that stage in our relationship when one knows what the other is thinking.
I sigh, contented. He moans in his sleep. Reaching out my fingers, I smooth the hard curve of his bronzed shoulder. Turning his head, he grimaces. Then wakes up. I smile. He raises himself up onto his elbows and, wordless, watches a power boat thundering and bouncing across his vision that creates furious white spumes like a dozen whales feeding on plankton.
‘I’ve got to go back,’ he says as if speaking to a topless girl walking past with her giggling almost naked friend. Then, looking down at me with tear-filled, brown eyes, he stems my unspoken pleas with a finger that traces the outline of my mouth. ‘It’s the kids. They’re too young to understand. Don’t you see?’
He gets to his feet. I groan. Turn onto my stomach that suddenly hurts as if I’d been kicked, and feel grains of his sand sprinkling onto my skin. Then he whispers, ‘Sorry.’ And, in my mind’s eye, I follow his progress across the beach, up onto the marble promenade, heading towards our apartment. Out of my life.