Yellow Beach


George’s only concession to the sun had been to leave the top button of his shirt undone. Having turned eighty and lost his wife earlier in the year, George had travelled from Wisconsin because he had something final to do. Sitting on a blanket on the beach, with thermos and sandwiches, George looked out of place. But he knew this place.

George sipped coffee and viewed the scenes. Bronzed young bodies, some with six-packs and others with bare breasts, soaked up the sun. Fat middle-aged men and their fatter wives drank pale lager and smoked between chapters. Mothers suncreamed wriggling toddlers. Teenagers listened to music and eyed other teenagers. Children made sandcastles and chased each other along the beach, squealing.

George watched the waves hitting the beach. He was too distant to hear them crash, but he knew their sound. A young couple walked hand-in-hand, the surf washing over their feet. George remembered that feeling.

“Nice gelato! Nice gelato!” the vendor shouted, bent under the weight of his cooler box. George bought an ice cream because he felt sorry for the vendor, an African far from home. He thought how the vendor must have to hide from the authorities and sleep in a hovel because he was born in the wrong place. The vendor left and George watched him go. Thirty yards on, a long-limbed young man with an expensive haircut and leaning back on his elbows beckoned in Italian to the vendor. George saw the vendor’s reluctance as he handed ice creams to the young man and his companions: two greasy youths and four pretty girls. The vendor was waved away without being paid. The youths and the girls laughed.

The nearby scream of a child took George’s attention. The girl had been running and was hysterical as blood dripped from her foot. In moments George was there, calming the girl, asking her name, and pressing on the artery in her ankle to stop the flow. A crowd gathered to gawp. The girl’s mother pushed through and wrapped an arm around her daughter.

“Claire’s a brave girl and she’s going to be fine,” George said.





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