She was fearless when she swam. The ocean warm and calm, she stroked rhythmically out past the pale blue, past the aqua and then into the deep, dark, navy. There were no boats on the horizon, no divers, no snorkelers yet she knew she was being watched.
She was a single woman , alone , and a curiosity. Local women did not come to the beach, except with families on Sunday, never by themselves. Men of all ages were watching, impressed with her bravery, her beauty, and her strength. She loved the attention.
She could see herself dripping, slinking out of the ocean like Raquel Welsh, flicking her hair aside, stepping with confidence, ignoring them, yet acutely aware of their gaze.
Especially, him. He drew his breath in and it whistled, “Mango” he whispered loud enough for her and the riveted admirers standing by.
A delighted shock flashed through her. She recognized this as a compliment meaning sweet, juicy, fleshy and desirable. She picked up her towel and he followed.
She instantly regretted her display of arrogant confidence, she felt foolish and nervous. Although a strong swimmer, she was not at all familiar with the ways of flirtation, and hoped she could get back to her book, and be left alone.
He offered her a drink; she thanked him yet, declined.
She watched him walk away. A simple bathing suit, slightly worn in the buttocks.
A pang of sympathy made her reflect. She was armed for a day at the beach with book, towel, sun screen, sunglasses, umbrella, tablet, snacks, mask, snorkel, flippers, hair brush, cover up and sun hat.
He had a humble bathing suit, nothing more.
He rounded a corner and was gone, then suddenly returned with his hand behind his back. He presented her with a freshly picked hibiscus flower, plate sized white with a bright pink center, he placed it on her towel and she looked up and saw a deep dark longing in his eyes. He left.
She replayed the scene over and over, and could not concentrate on her book.
In the morning he was sitting outside her room. He followed her to breakfast and waited, he followed her to the pool and waited, he watched her from a distance. She was unnerved and surprisingly a bit delighted. His steady gaze followed her wordlessly everywhere, all day she saw him, looking, gazing following. At the market, on the beach, at the bar, by the pool. Always far enough away so as to not be intrusive, always close enough to be noticed. She felt his lust, she was undressed, she had no appetite, he left her breathless. She felt desired, vulnerable, pleased, powerful and flustered.
She swam in the ocean and felt a hand in hers. He swam with her, he swam beside her he swam under her, he swam above her. He turned circles he stayed under for so long she was afraid. He surfaced and whispered, “Dolphin”. She watched him climb up and up and up and dive effortlessly into the deep. He was magnificent.
He waited and watched and swam and followed. The days went on endlessly, without words. She could barely sleep.
She did not know where He ended and she began. She sat up at night hugging her knees to her chest, head titled blushed and flushed, heart pounding and reminisced and replayed each second of their short time together.
She bit into the small brown kernel he gave her. He watched closely, his expression gentle and tender as he focused on her intently. He hoped urgently that she would enjoy his small gift. He was barefoot, and had little to offer this exquisite pale woman from the north. He had fallen hopelessly and helplessly in love with this stunning, stranger. She was as delicate as a daisy, and when he looked into her unnerving green eyes he shivered. Her shape was imprinted on his mind’s eye and he memorized the rise of her breasts, the curve of her hips and mound below her navel. He knew she was equally consumed with passion for him. She was leaving to fly home too soon, and today he was considering asking her to stay. He was obsessed with notions of her lying in his bed and waking up next to her sweet dainty, and freckled body day after day for the rest of His life.
He stroked her cheek and she smiled, looked up at him and said, “It was delicious.”
Time sprinted when they were together, until alone at night she could deliberately slow the seconds down to allow molasses memories slick and slide, and ooze sluggish and hot and make her heart race.
From sun up to sun down they walked, tickled, held hands, hearts fluttering, gazed and whispered, kissed and were oblivious to the world. With him there was no other life, no responsibilities, nothing else made any sense.
The future she imagined with him, planting tomatoes, and peppers in his back yard, she could teach English as a second language, she would help the local doctors, till the soil, pick cotton, start a manicure business. She could fish, use the hotel computer to write home, learn Spanish, and babysit tourist’s children. She imagined the locals adoring her, thinking him so lucky to have such a talented magnificently beautiful wife. She planned the wedding, with lobster and shrimp wrapped in banana leaves and a bonfire on the beach.
He could not come with her, he did not drive, he knew nothing of snow, he had never even owned a pair of shoes. There was no place for a scuba diver in the north. He knew he could not leave his parents, they needed him so.
She was unconscious of the precious ticking of the clock, until the day the taxi drew near. He climbed in not knowing how he would return the 4 hours back to his village from the airport. He cradled her in his arms all the way there; she plucked grains of sand off of his forearm. She left him some money, toothpaste, sunscreen, her Ray bans, and the bottle of whiskey she had barely touched.
She walked through the gates as in a trance and looked back only once, he sat on the curb tortured, a tear squeezed out, and dropped on his dusty brown foot.
Inside she hesitated. Could she run back out into his arms? Could she survive, quickly she calculated how long her savings could last before running out. She burst into tears in the airport washroom. She sat miserable in the stall, not wanting to leave the country. How could she live without him? How could she go back to writing reports to collect dust on a shelf, commuting through the cold, alone with her cat, one more ridiculous Thanksgiving dinner with her dysfunctional family? Could she? Could she stay? Back and forth she rocked on the toilet until the flight was announced for the first time. She sighed and straightened up and gathered her things. She marched responsibly towards the line headed north.
He watched from the curb as the planes taxied in and out. Time passed, he sat and chewed his fingernails.
A load of tourists landed, and in the midst of a bustling crowd he saw a familiar shock of curly blonde hair. It was Martine from France. She raced towards him, “Eduardo, you came to pick me up my darling, how did you know I was coming?” she gushed.
He hopped into the open cab with her, after taking her bag and kissed her passionately on the mouth, hoping she had brought him the pair of shoes she had promised him last year.
Kitty Perrier guest blogger