[I originally wrote this short piece of non-fiction melancholy, back in the summer of 2008, posting it onto my old blog back when I had no visitors. With a little re-editing I know you won’t mind me reposting it, as it was a big moment in the lives of all involved. I’m not sure if any of the characters in the story still exist anymore, they’ve all changed beyond recognition since then.]
One hot sunny August afternoon a few summers past, a woman sits down outside, on the steps of a holiday caravan, in some forgotten; crappy, seaside town, and lights another cigarette. She’s resigned to the fact that it’s all over. At the same time a young girl looks between the gap in the flowery curtains. Her face pale; her eyes red from crying.
The night before, he had lain awake on his own. The neon from the street lights outside, shine on half of the clock, and he can make out it’s just before 3am. He feels movement from somewhere in the caravan, and senses the woman standing at the door. She says his name quietly, asking him if he’s awake. Even though it’s dark, she knows that he heard her voice. She knows they won’t talk: can’t talk. He feels a cool fresh flow of sea air blow into the caravan with a coastal push, replacing what is hot and stale. He doesn’t move, and stays in his sleeping bag letting the clock tick on.
He knows her mannerisms. He knows that she has sat on the step outside and is pulling a Lambert & Butler from its silver packet, even before he hears the sound of a cigarette lighter. Sleep doesn’t come to him lightly, and he knows that she sits for hours on the step, smoking and listening to the distant sea. Under different circumstances it would be a beautiful thing to hear, but tonight the ocean just sounds lonely.
As he leaves the next morning the man asks the little girl for a kiss and a cuddle; but she shakes her head no, and walks to the other end of the caravan, climbing up onto the window ledge like a cat. The man puts his hand up as he gets in the car, but the little girl doesn’t return the wave. He can still see her in the rear-view mirror as he drives away, her face visible for a few seconds more before the curtains close, and she disappears.