Stood by the river with clasped hands and the high tide begging for our feet. I thought for the longest time that I could never live, I said. I’d come to accept that happiness was something other people felt. Arris pulled herself into the furrow beneath my arm and constricted my chest. ‘I thought I knew what happiness was,’ she said, ‘that I was living and had lived a life as happy as I might.’ I pulled her close about the shoulder and listened to the lapping water. We are always more together, I said, watching sadness float away.
The beach has always been cold to me, no matter how I’ve loved it, but I go there often and take my loves with me. Like Caleb, confidant and strong with beautiful form and numbing passion. ‘You can’t help me,’ he said, stripping to skin, ‘even if I’m struggling,’ and walked into the waves without hesitation. I’ve always respected the tide and its wishes, the soft inevitability and reassuring repetition of predictable chaos. So I sat above the water line with the prickled edges of pre-glass sticking to my flesh, thinking of love and watching while Caleb drowned.
Cleo kicks my castle over with such languid apathy that I want to strangle her for it. She walks away with three hours of work wedged into the treads of her Havaiana’s, while I think of places to hide her body. I throw myself onto the rubble, thinking about fucking her boyfriend. The taste of chlorine and the bite of tile in my back as he worked at me with a graceless lack of friction. I push my hands into the sand, making fists of its grains and thrust my hips against the sky. The tide is coming in.