Turning a Corner

The noise is horrendous, clattering glasses, the thump of electronic beats, the laughter and chatter is deafening. She hadn’t wanted to come, Tina was persuasive.

‘Come on Lin it’ll be fun, you need a change and it’ll be sunny. Who knows you might meet someone. It’s only a few days.’

‘I don’t want to meet anyone thanks, it’s too soon. Why don’t you just go with Suzie I’m sure you’ll have more fun if I’m not there. I’m not ready for a full-on girly holiday just yet.’

‘Too late I booked it anyway, I knew you’d say no and I know it’s bloody hard after Matt but it’s time to move on, it’s been a year. If it gets too much you can go hide on the beach like you always used to.’

So here they are, Suzie is practically eating some bearded bloke who looks young enough to be her son, Tina is on the Karaoke in the back room with two girls she met last night and Lin is sitting on a barstool nursing a Margarita. It’s hot and it’s noisy and there’s no air so she leaves the glass on the bar and heads for the door, stopping by the booth to tell Suzie where she’s going.

‘OK babe see you later.’

Lin doesn’t think Suzie will remember the conversation; she’s already at least three drinks ahead and hardly raises her head from the voluminous beard to speak.

The evening air is hot and sticky, the smell of burgers from a roadside stall reminds her she’s hardly eaten all day so she strolls along the street to the falafel van. There are only two people in front of her but as she waits her turn she’s aware of someone waiting in line behind her.

‘That’s the trouble with too much drink it always makes you hungry.’

She turns to see if this line is directed at her and obviously it is as she’s met by soft grey eyes. He’s smiling and clearly sober and she swallows her initial retort and smiles back.

‘Well to be honest I’ve only had two sips of a Margarita so I think I’m just hungry.’

 ‘Sorry that was a bit of an assumption, it’s just that there are so many hen-do’s and stag-do’s where everyone seems intent on drinking themselves silly and you’re in a sparkly dress and I assumed you were on a girl’s holiday. That’s very presumptuous of me. Can I make amends and pay for your falafel? There I’ve done it again presuming you’re having falafel from a falafel van.’ Now he’s laughing and she joins in.

‘Not sure I can accept a bribe of falafel but seeing as you’ve apologised I’ll accept. You’re pretty sober too I notice. No stag-do to join?’

‘I live here, falafel is my dinner of choice most nights I’m afraid. Been here for over a year and still haven’t installed a kitchen. I’m a scuba instructor for my sins, work long days and spend my evenings catching up on paperwork and eating falafel and I don’t really drink, it’s not recommended when you spend much of your time in the sea.’

‘I thought I might stroll to the harbour with my food, care to join me?’ She can barely believe she’s had a conversation with him let alone invited him to eat with her.

‘That would be great, if you’re sure you don’t mind. I’m Steve by the way. Pleased to meet you.’ His skin is warm but dry and he holds her hand a fraction of a second too long.

‘I’m Linda although everyone calls me Lin. I’m afraid I don’t do anything as glamorous as scuba diving. I’m an architect, lots of talk of bricks and doors and the occasional en-suite bathroom. I’m not on a hen-do but I am with two girlfriends who are currently entertaining themselves and everyone else in the Waikiki bar. Not really my scene. I’m here under sufferance, I’m too old for all this late night drinking.’

The harbour is full of exotic yachts and speedboats, the promenade full of revellers but they find a quiet bench away from the main drag.

‘This is my favourite spot,’ Steve says ‘I don’t think anyone apart from me knows this bench is here. Ten minutes here with my dinner and I’m ready to face the world. So why are you here if it’s not your scene?’

‘My friends want to drag me back into the real world, they think it’s time.’

The silence hangs unexplored but eventually she relaxes.

‘My husband died last year.’ There she’s said it out loud, the words that have looped around her brain for over 12 months. He died. He didn’t ‘fall asleep’ or ‘pass away’ he died. He’s dead.

She feels an arm around her shoulder and realises she’s sobbing. Big loud sobs with hot tears and a runny nose.

Steve sits there and cradles her as she cries unshed tears for what seems like hours.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she says at last ‘I’ve soaked your tee-shirt.’

‘I get the feeling you needed that,’ he says as his hand gently smooths her hair.

She sits up and rummages for a tissue in her bag.

‘How embarrassing, I really am so sorry.’

‘Don’t be silly I’m glad I was here, it’s horrible being sad on your own.’

‘I’ve been very closed off since it happened. Tina and Suzie have been brilliant, my family were great to start with but they never liked Matt and I think they’ve got fed up with me. My sister says if I’d actually loved him I would have cried when he died but nobody understands.’

‘Try me.’

‘Oh I can’t inflict my grief on you, that’s not fair you don’t know anything about me.’

‘I will if you talk to me. I’m a good listener and I promise not to presume anything. Go on try me.’

His eyes are sincere, even in the gloom she knows this is someone she can trust.

‘It’s a long story.’

‘It’s OK we have plenty of time.’

She reaches out and clasps his hand and he squeezes it back.’

‘Yes I think we do.’

© Nita Lewsey 2018

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By Nita Lewsey

I'm a writer of short stories, flash fiction and am currently working on a novel. I've had stories published in anthologies and self-published a collection on stories on Amazon. I have long dreamt of writing full time & this dream is now a reality.

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