On the bench beside him, a dark red holdall and next to that a pair of white trainers. He gazes at the shore, oblivious to people passing the shelter. She stands to one side looking at him, and I can tell by the way she stands, the expression on her face, that she’s enjoying these moments of scrutiny. Slipping onto the seat beside him still she doesn’t penetrate his solitude.
She says, ‘Penny for them.’
‘What? Oh hello.’
‘Just watching the waves, that’s all.’
‘Have you thought about what I said?’
‘Sort of, but you know-’
‘You’ll let me know when you have?’
‘Let me know, ok?’
She glances at the red holdall on the bench, at the white trainers.
‘New trainers, eh?’
‘Just found them, in good nick eh? And they fit.’
She stares at him, at his profile for he hasn’t looked at her while they’ve been talking. Smiles, leans over, kisses him on the cheek, stands and says, ‘Be sure to let me know, ok?’
He looks at her, the glimmer of a smile on his face. Shrugs, says he will and she walks away.
Red and white, today has been red and white. Red holdall white shoes. Red and white in the flags, and the deck chair canvas billowing in the wind, in the name of a boat drawn up on the shingle; red lettering on a white ground. In the crimson shawl she wore over her white dress, her companions in grey and black, colours perfectly suited to reflect the intensity of that shawl. Red and white echoed in the pink Champaign they drank, in the dregs of the discarded bottle laying on the shingle; red reverberating in a memory of you and that glorious coat of yours, worn all that one winter long; cadmium red, and with a pale, such a pale shimmering lining.
And such an intense cold red sun sliding into a grey sea.