He stirred and watched as she straightened her arms to push up her body. After a quick “Upward Dog” to stretch her back (a phrase he’d learned from the occasional yoga class she invited him along to), she pushed herself up onto her knees, hovering provocatively over him on all fours for a brief moment and, with a swift and smooth motion of her left arm, swept up her sunglasses on her way to her feet.
Her face crinkled to a squint as she glanced up to the flawless, uninterrupted blue of the late morning sky and she reached up, bringing her sunglasses to her face on the way into another enormous stretch. He wondered if she was planning to pat down the outrageous quiff of hair standing to attention above her right temple. Of course. She wouldn’t let her hair go untended. After retying a messy bun at the back of her head, she bent down with her legs and back perfectly straight, sticking her bronzed bum in the air, brushed the sand from her shins and began her stroll towards the shoreline. Her back glistened with a smooth sheen of sweat as her figure floated dreamily towards the water and he saw that a middle aged man lying under a nearby umbrella with his wife had clocked her too. He was trying to sneak a peek to the side of his glasses without turning his head, but unsuccessfully, and was bought crashing back to reality with a swift newspaper slap on his hairy round belly from an understandably offended wife.
The rest of the beach seemed wrapped up in their own worlds. A trio of women behind him, in their expensive sportswear had given up on their speed-walk to sit and compare notes on their latest weigh-in. Two young girls lay silently alongside each other, topping up their tans, one reading a book that looked like it might last her the next decade, the other plugged into her iPod, sunning her front. A man in his thirties stood at the entrance from the car park, stretching his hamstrings and adjusting his Fitbit. Another man of about the same age sat alone, closer to the water, gazing out to sea, taking in the morning scenery and the perfect silhouettes of ships in the distance. The scene wouldn’t be complete without the a.m. golden years club in their camping chairs – two elderly couples, in their one piece swimsuits, men in bucket hats, women in swim caps, each with a spray on bottle of factor 50 in the cup holder of their chair, sat discussing the joys of grandchildren and how incredibly fit somebody called Mary is for her age.
At a glance back to the water, he caught a glimpse of his girl, head bobbing into view every few seconds, swimming her usual breast stroke just behind the breakers. A mother and her young boy playing in the shallow narrowly avoided a soaking and came running a little way up the beach from the waves, giggling together.
This would be such a relaxing scene to enjoy if it weren’t for the extraordinary noise of the seagull fight going on, no more than 2 feet away. A large, white male, with perfect posture and a plump chest, screamed repeatedly at a shaggy looking dirty grey bird, who seemed to be showing a little too much interest in the same piece of seaweed. A rookie error. This clean white specimen was clearly the alpha male and is not going to take any crap off you little scruff. He will scream like he’s giving birth to a flame-hot golf ball until you give it up.
All of these thoughts were rudely interrupted as a sudden, unexpected gust of warm, wet air brought him back into the moment and a heavy glob of drool landed just inches away from him in the sand. He lay apprehensively still, while the dribbling, wet nosed boxer dog sniffed around him and then bounded off after his owner, who ran past closely enough to kick a good showering of dry sand over him on the way past.
The midday sun was fast approaching and the rays were really beating down now. Must be almost time for the ride back if he knew her schedule well enough, and after 5 months of visiting the same beach, with the same girl, at the same time, 3 mornings a week, he felt he could probably make a safe bet about her habits.
Here she comes. Striding back up the beach towards him. Soaking wet, refreshed, squeezing the excess water out of her hair before she reached him, which he appreciated.
She leaned down, grabbed him from the closest end and shook him violently into the wind. Ah, that’s better. Excess sand successfully shaken free, she bundled him up, buried her face in him and then patted herself down. Another quick shake and they’re good to go. His least favourite part, she bundled him into her backpack and off home to shower and hang out to dry. He’d never get used to this part, the cramped, damp ride home, but it was, overall, not a bad life, so he couldn’t complain about the minor discomforts really.
Quiet day tomorrow, then back to it Thursday. Days like this, he felt like the luckiest towel in the world.
The Beach Towel
A contribution to the series “Observations of an Inanimate Object”