Running doesn't always solve the problem.
It was siesta time, the silence punctuated only by the flop, flop, of her sandals as she walked back from the beach. Green shutters swayed in the breeze, drifting like eye lids closing, she found she was holding her breath, the silence was so complete.
The doorway of her villa was in deep shadow, someone could be crouched there, waiting, but only a startled lizard zig zagged across her path. running for the rocks. I should be running, thought Sophie but instead she swept wide the doors, flooding the room with light.
From there she could see the dazzle of clear water and below the bay of yellow rocks.. She dare not think too far ahead, but at least for a little while. This was still her home.
The sand was painfully white outside they were at the beach bar pausing for a moment after the midday rush.
"Is Mitch coming back tonight? asked Mercedes wiping her hands.
Sophie called over her shoulder
"I'm not really sure."
Perhaps to avoid further questions, she went outside to clear the tables. The sunlight through the raffia roof made patterns on the brown bodies beneath.
Sophie helped most afternoons, collecting glasses and helping prepare the simple food. The older men joked with her she had adapted well. They even encouraged her stumbling Spanish. Mercedes had grown fond of Sophie. Was happier with her than some of the younger women, at least Sophie didn't mind working in the heat of the day. They washed up in the cramped kitchen, to the sound of some plaintive love song on the record player. As if to herself, Sophie said,
"He will be with his friends from Palma, ...I may not see him at all."
Yet she was already planning which dress to wear, and wondering if she had changed in a month. Before sunset was the best time, still the heat burned through her almost to her bones.
Riverlets of moisture ran down her stomach; she was sleeker, more muscled now, her long brown hair curling to her shoulders. Her legs deeply tanned from afternoons spent walking along the beach. She swiftly showered and changed into a strapless cerise dress, and high mules, a single pearl on a chain around her neck. With a spray of perfume she was ready.
It was the isolation that had attracted her to this place. There were about a dozen villas the fishermens' homes, two restaurants and a’Supermarcado’, and the sprawling beach bars of course.
One each end of the small sandy beach, the had huge jars of glossy black olives and dark dry hams hanging from the roof. Not many tourists found came to this beach Preferring the town with its shops. Pleasantly devoid of notices about chips or bacon and egg,. It had suited Sophie well, but today workmen called after her as she strolled by, they were erecting shiny new telephone boxes. How alien the glass and steel looked in this landscape. She didn't look up, the gentle puff of dust that rose with each footfall kept up the same rhythm.
She had innocently smiled once before, and there had been a banging on her shutters in the night
That bleak spring when she had made her plans seemed a hundred years ago, not mere months.
Only when the children were settled had she finalised everything. She left unanswered questions; three adult children, and a rather dull husband behind.
The money from the jewellery would one day run out she had to prove to herself she could survive alone. James, was probably convinced she had lost her mind, perhaps she had. But with halting Spanish she got by, did all sorts of jobs, even washed tablecloths for the local restaurant. She was experiencing a delayed rebellion, trying things she had never done. James had said years ago;
"You could never survive on your own"
She was almost sorry her tracks were so well covered and he wouldn't find her.
She was drawn like a magnet to ‘Joeys’ a place in town, it gave her a crash course in living. The place had a bad reputation she later found.
Old ladies in black crossed themselves and muttered as they passed it. But by then Joey had become a friend, a kind listening ear when she was lonely. His clients were drifters and misfits, others who were running; like herself.
Bibulous characters like Kenny and Bill; drinking brandy for breakfast and telling affected little stories to whoever would listen.
Annette was a regular too. Hair piled high, jewellery glinting; purple eye lids flashing. Artfully preserved, she must have been in her mid sixties, but still lived a wild life. Still prowling, seeking out men to devour. For a while Sophie wondered if that would be her fate too.
Sometimes she watched young mothers on the beach and she was reminded of all the patchwork days of motherhood. They seemed so young these girls, with their fat babies on their hips, feet bare, hair long and free. Yet she had been barely twenty when Molly was born, not much more than a child herself. Happy times to look back on, egg and spoon races on green lawns; lop sided birthday cakes she made and iced. Marzipan chicks at Easter; shivering and tiptoeing with lumpy stockings at Christmas; she only remembered the pleasures. So far away, like a dream.
There were other pleasures now. 'Mitch has been asking about you" Joey said with a twinkle. A young man, had eased himself from a bar stool and strolled over. His hair was sun streaked, his clothes casual; expensive.
"Well Maam nice to meet you, my good friend Joey says you are a fugitive, and I'm intrigued mind if I sit here?”
"Looks like you have" she smiled, not sure she wanted the intrusion at first. So that was how it began:
They drank champagne, shared a paella, and found they shared a similar sense of humour. He talked about his family. His mother was French his father an American who had settled years ago. They owned a cheese factory, one of three on the island. He said he dealt with the business, flying to Palma weekly. Sophie told him a little of her life but was happier listening to his.
"You could fly to Palma tonight. I know someone who is going at three." He murmered. She was flattered, but shook her head.
"Not I have obligations, but thanks.”
It was after four when Joey yawned and signalled it was way past closing time. They walked out into the half- light, Mitch pulled her strongly to him. She went, perhaps too eagerly; too easily
The afternoon heat stunned Sophie as she walked through the garden. Mitch had invited her to his villa. There were shady arbours a fountain and along a terrace vines stretched right to the edge of the cliff.
Inside the huge marbled floored living room held two sofas of white leather, there were heavy glass coffee tables and white rugs. A gleaming brass surround framed the open fireplace and it was filled with rich purple flowers. He took her round sliding back doors to reveal a view of the garden or the pool.
She later discovered he wore pure silk; pale grey shorts, that clung to his hard body. He was so perfect she felt she must constantly touch him, as if to retain this memory. It can’t last she thought, things like this don't.
In July the fiesta finished with fireworks and the town felt hung over. Sad streamers blew in the wind. Mitch had gone. The last time he had just kissed her gently and said "See ya.” he didn't phone or write.
A sudden vision of home, safe and constant returned, but she pushed it away, thought only of Mitch coming back to her. Waiting in her bright dress in the bar she felt a chill,a premonition, at that moment he swung through the door, a girl on each arm. One gloriously leggy; with almost white hair; the other, a rounded red head. He signalled for her to join them, smiled his usual lazy smile. Sophie finshed her drink, and shook her head in answer.
At the bus station the heat and dust made her feel dirty and used. She sat for a moment on a sticky seat amongst the paper cups and bottle caps, the night dragged on as she sat and waited till dawn.
At a small cafe she drank coffee to pass the time. She realised she was surrounded by English voices, it was August, people were enjoying holidays. She was aware of the mess she must look, decided she would get back to her villa on the next bus, to sleep and then to plan. There was something familiar about the girl in front. Sophie almost started to retreat, but was too slow, the girl turned.
"Mum, oh my God is it you?" Her daughter’s face crumpled and she ran to hug her and cry too. Holidaymakers in short brushed by, but the two were oblivious to them.
“We had given you up, I can't believe it, we thought you must be dead.”
She held her daughter she had missed her, missed them all, shakily she asked "And Dad, how is Dad?"
“Deadfull Mum!, not the same at all it's really knocked the stuffing out of him". Sophie paused trying to imagine James less stuffy, it was difficult.
There was a little money over when she had paid for her ticket. it would be her insurance, an ‘escape fund’. But for now she was willing to try again. Perhaps James would accept some changes, take her out for a meal, or to the theatre, leave his stamps for once. She was soon packing bright dresses, pale trousers and high heels away. She left out a simple blue dress to wear home then went for a last walk. The sea was milky in the evening light, the sand still warm between her toes. A butterfly swept up by the wash of water floated in,
"Poor thing" she whispered "but at least you stretched you wings in the sun didn't you?" The sun finally dipped, and it was dusk. Sophie turned to go home.
This is part 2 of five entries. Voting for them starts after the 18th. By then I should be in severe pain but have a new knee, so will not be replying commenting or reading, unless life treats me kindly! Good luck to all my friends. Read and vote to support us.