Sitting on the golden beach, coconut shell cocktail in hand, I relaxed and decided to no longer regret spending the last of my divorce money on this island holiday. I sipped my too sweet, ice chilled drink and listened to the sea waves hitting the shore in the distance. What I wanted more than ever was to pretended I was completely alone right now, but the other tourists were making that impossible.
I sighed as once again I heard an argument coming from the bar area. Turning and nudging down my sunglasses, I looked over and saw a young couple at the dried grass roofed wooden bar. I couldn’t quite make out what had happened, but the fast hand gestures and aggressive body language of the man drew me in.
Sipping more of my drink, I kept an eye on them. Until, disgruntled the man give up and stalked off along the beach with the woman shouting at him to come back. Putting my sunglass back up, I used them to hide behind as I check out the rest of the beach. Ten feet to my right were a forty-something couple with a two year old boy. Before they had been building sandcastles and smothering each other in sun cream, but now they were all sleeping in the mid-afternoon heat. Beyond them the beach ran on before turning a graceful sweep and disappeared behind the tall coconut palms.
To my left, a handful more tourists in their too bright and short clothes lay or sat on the sand. A brave few had set off to towards the sea, their footprints trailing behind them. Three people were clustered around the shade of the bar as if it was a life raft and four others, like myself were sat on the beach’s edge in white lounges.
Taking a longer drink through the twin straws, I placed my coconut shell down on the little side table and thought about taking a nap too. However, my mind was much to awake, despite the heat. I pulled the trashy chick-lit novel from my wicker bag and began reading it. A few pages later, my eyes became distracted by a tall man arriving at the bar. I peered over my book at him, finding his dark brown curly hair familiar and drawn by his long arms.
He got a drink in a green coconut shell then went to a lounge close to mine. As he folded his legs and arms over, my memory sparked up. He was my high school history teacher, Mr. Ford. What was he doing here?
I shoved my book back into my face and felt a childlike panic borrowing inside of me. My thoughts reeled; was it really him? How can it be? What’s he doing here? Term has started already. Okay, okay. It’s not him, just some who looks like him. Just get back to reading and chilling.
I coughed then took a few sips of my drink and got back to my book. My noise and movements had drawn his eyes and I knew without even looking that he was staring at me. I waited, expecting any moment he would look away then I could peek at him again. Finally, when I give in and flashed my eyes to him, he was still staring. I concentrated hard on my book, but the words had blurred before me and I’d forgotten why the main male character no longer wanted to be with his girlfriend. I risked another look; our eyes met and held each other’s.
Yes, there was no doubting it. It was Mr Ford. I’d know that slightly curling grin of his and sooth baby face anywhere. He looked a bit older and I recalled working out the age gap between us once, I think it had come to around ten years. He had been fresh out of university and told us that we should always aim higher. Then he’d rambled on about the Second World War or the Cold War and we’d stare blankly at him.
I smiled at him and turned back to my book, but instead of reading, I fantasist meeting him later on and sneaking into his hotel bedroom. Just as I got the courage up to ask him if he wanted a drink, he got up and left. I put my book into my lap and watched him carry his drink back to the bar. He abandoned it on the side with a glare from the bar man, and continued along the beach.
Maybe it really wasn’t him?
I dropped my shoulders and grabbed my coconut. In a few mouthfuls, I had finished it, leaving only the sediment and sticky bits. I gathered my stuff and went back to my hotel room, my thoughts still fantasising that I’d bump into him again and we’d have a holiday romance.
By the time I got on the plane to go home, I still hadn’t seen him again.