My friend Sujata and I have decided to challenge ourselves to a regular writing challenge just to keep our pens moving. We agree a prompt, write for an hour and then share.
Our first prompt has been Beyond the Horizon...
'You had to be fast,' she said. ' You had to really pelt back up the beach and up the path, you know, where we came down.'
I scanned back following her indicating hand, seeing her watch her childhood self running back along the beach and up the stony path, to stand breathless at the top and gaze out across the ocean.
'It's like you get to live the moments again,' she said, 'to turn back time. Come on shall we try? We've got about ten minutes I reckon.
The low sun was reflected in her eyes as she looked at me.
'Come on!' she said, ' you're not so old you can't run!'
'I'm a good bit older than you!'
'Nonsense, you're as young as the person you feel!' She laughed and threw her head back, tossing her hair in the breeze.
It was a gorgeous summer evening.
There was no-one else on Marsland Beach. It had been raining all day but now the clouds had passed on, dispersed, and the sun hung like a Chinese lantern in the sky, slowly drifting down towards the horizon.
'We used to make it sizzle when it hit the water,' she said. 'Hissssssssss.'
She squeezed the air out between her tongue and her teeth.
'Then we'd run all the way to the top of the cliff and watch it do it again. But we need to be closer to the path or an old-timer like you won't stand a chance. You only get about a minute and a half.'
She was a frantic lover.
She walked a little in front – always – and I loved that. Her confidence. She led me. I'd watch her hips move. The curve of her ass in her jeans. I'd trace in my mind where my hands had been. My fingertips. Picture her naked beneath her clothes. If she turned to speak I would watch her mouth, remember how her lips had caressed me, her old-timer – the soft slipperiness of them, traces of her saliva on my skin. She always ended up astride me when we made love. Not straight away, but I always knew that's what she wanted, where she wanted to be. And it suited me. I could lie back and let her play. Let her feast on my body to feed her own desires. I know now that she was really making love to herself but it felt like she loved me. At the time. In truth I was just something for her to rub against.
I miss her though.
We stood at the water's edge directly down from the foot of the cliff path. She held my hand, facing the sea, looking out to where the sun was about to sizzle. She stood herself on a small rock resting on others. She found the movement in it tilting it back and forth beneath her feet, shifting her weight and holding my hand to balance herself.
'It's nearly there,' she cried, the excitement of the child she was remembering flooding her voice. 'Are you ready?'
'As I'll ever be!' I said.
For all that it was low in the sky, the sun was still bright and it brought tears to my eyes to look at it for any length of time.
I was standing next to her, holding the hand of this woman I loved, looking out across the sea. But my mind was in her. In her clothes. Swooping around her breasts. Sweeping across her belly and dipping into the soft curls beneath. My mind was my tongue tasting her, slaking my thirst for her, lingering on her nipples. My lips drawing her into me. Her hair. My nostrils filled with her musk. The fragrant moment behind her ear and down her neck.
'Hissssss!' she shouted. 'Sizzzzllllle!'
'Aha! It's down,' I cried. I'd missed the moment itself but jumped back in to join her.
'Come on!' She tugged at my hand. Started dragging me back up the beach towards the cliff path. 'There's no time to lose!'
I followed willingly enough, though the tightness in my trousers did not make running easy. We stamped over the wet sand, through the small pools left by the receding tide, finally hitting a rhythm that suited us both.
'Come on, old-timer!'
I was breathless but managed to stay with her until we got to the foot of the cliff. But she was full of energy still, while I was all but spent.
'Come on!' She shouted again letting go of my hand. Away she went up the narrow path, scattering pebbles and sand with her feet. I followed but she was soon ten yards ahead and the gap was widening.
My breath burned my lungs, my mouth dry, and the heat of my body raging. Legs seizing up, heart pounding, my feet slipping on the loose surface.
'Come onnn!' she called, now twenty yards in front. 'You'll miss the second sizzle!'
'I'm coming,' I said – I tried to shout it but the words just fell from my mouth, tangled around my feet.
'Some day,' she sang the words out, 'some day I'm going to sail away. Climb into a boat, just me, and sail away into the sunset. Beyond the horizon.'
She was at the top now. I was still way below.
'Hisssssssss! Sizzzlllllle!' she shouted into the wind.
The air was painful in my lungs, finding a dark target inside with every breath. A thudding angry ache grew and grew in my chest, sending a dagger from my chest up into my shoulder and down my left arm. Again and again.
She never came to visit me in the hospital. I've heard nothing from her since.
The heart attack left me like a crumpled paper bag, fearful of a recurrence.
I came to as the paramedics were loading me onto a gurney. She held my hand as they manoeuvred me back through the field to where the ambulance was waiting in the lane, but she couldn't look at me. Said nothing.
I could feel my hand holding hers.
But she was not really holding mine.