The only one

Here there are so many beautiful women, painted in varying degrees for war, or love, or simply for the day. Most are lithe, with Mediterranean skin, dark eyes in which lovers could easily lose themselves, and what would be forever smiles if your heart was not already taken. And mine is, so I am indifferent to them; my appreciation is fleeting, academic, almost.

The only one to whom I feel drawn is the mother by the swimming pool who most resembles you. Her hair in golden waves, her body approximate to yours. Her bright magenta two piece, something I doubt you’d ever wear. But still. I watch her swim with an unhurried sensuality that I imagine she carries with her wherever she goes, unwittingly; and woe betide any man’s resistance if she should multiply its power by deliberately turning it on.

Wet, her hair becomes your wet hair, as I remember it in the shower, darker and framing more minimally the beauty of your face. She doesn’t seem to notice the Englishman at all, but then, I am hidden in plain view wearing a hat and sunglasses reading a book under an umbrella. Besides, I don’t need her to notice me, because she is not you. She is a representation of you, of a longing, a stand-in for the real thing. A wish, a dream, an imagined day unfolding, and that day itself folding with love-making and sleep and sweet dreams into the next, and so on for a week or a fortnight of holiday, in what I take to be the prelude to the rest of our lives.

I cannot concentrate on the book, because of the combined assault of your presence and the heat, so I head for the coolness of indoors. But once in, I cannot resist stepping out on the balcony to watch her swim some more, then emerge from the water and begin to dry those golden waves of hair with a beach towel. In imagination I tilt up your head to spot me as I stand looking down waving, and after you wave back, I see you making the international sign language gesture for ‘I’ll be up in a minute’, to which you add a blown kiss, sending it skyward from the palm of your hand. I blow one back. Our kisses meet in the Mediterranean air, swirling about, castling each other for a moment like chess pieces, till one carries on rising and the other dives just short of you, into swimming pool blue.

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2 thoughts on “The only one

  1. This is such a spectacular piece of writing, “I can’t even” (as my generation would say, which so aptly describes my sentiment after reading this). Every word here is in exactly the right place, and it almost defies you to question its existence as you’re reading, but you can’t and don’t want to. This is what I was struck by the most in this piece, the seeming ease with which it was written, which adds to the straight-forward honesty of the little fragment of a life you’ve painted here (be it “real” or imagined). I’ve been away for quite some time, only after reading this did I realize how much I’ve missed reading these little gems and feeling truly inspired to do better in my own attempts, as well.

    1. This is such a lovely comment, ‘I can’t even’ (as I think someone of my generation could just about get away with saying).

      But thank you, that I can say. And also that some days – the luckiest ones – the words can and do seem to come easily, aligning more or less exactly with what I had in my mind’s eye.

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