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Declan Tan

They were on the beach. His body lay there without movement. Hers too. They had wide dark pupils. Like dead eyes, really. Dead eyes like a wall without windows. The temperature jumped from 14 degrees to 16. But at least they were walls that faced each other.

Bye bye, bye-bye. The line went dead. She put her hand down on the towel.

Blardy bleedee blar, he said. She knew what he meant and nodded, looking at her in-turned feet, some unvarnished toes at the ends of smooth legs.

Blur-blur. Yes, she understood what he meant. He didn’t have to repeat himself. He was always doing that. She brushed a hand over his thigh then rested her head on it, where sand peppered his hen. It helped, he felt comforted.

Blurrr, he said. She rubbed his shin up and down with her palm. She often made minor sacrifices at her own expense. They competed in that respect.

He scratched her head, which she liked, as she cleaned his legs of wet sand. Sometime during this ritual a small man walked up and stood over them. Weak waves lapped the shore. They could not understand what he was saying but he kept saying it anyway, undeterred by the lack of response. He repeated the same sounds with varying inflection, then quietly left confused but still able to walk and fiddling with his brown carrier bags. He seemed like a good sort.

Blee blee blurdy. She whispered. In their language they referred to him as Bags. He was carrying two plastic bags. They had no imagination.

Blu. He said. Yes, brown was an unusual colour for plastic bags.

They watched the man as he walked away into the ocean, wind crumpling the over-used plastic. Another good one gone. From the towel he rolled a harry rag while she lay there, the pack of tobacco half full and dry from days left open in the sun. She smoked it quietly when he passed it to her and they watched Bags play with his two companions in the sea. The cigarette burnt quickly and was gone in no time, but it straightened out the kinks.

They stretched out on the towel. His body was flipping through black empty space. Hers was somewhere else, in a bed with the covers pulled up to the top lip. Now their fingers, at the ends of arms side-by-side, tightly gripped the body of sand through the towel as they tried hard to resist the world’s arrogant turning, but the sand ran underneath them, and their towel, until they had skidded one thousand miles down the coast. She took a small bite of the pizza and laid her head back down, chewing slowly so as not to vomit. He watched her chew, beauty’s silhouette.

Bler-rer. It was a confusing time. Blii.

They lay there a while longer and the temperature rose again, this time to 18. They wet their fingers, one each, and dipped the digits back in for more. Raising it to their mouths they rubbed their tongues.

Bluuu, she said. Bluu, he somewhat agreed.

Time flitted graceful and unhinged like a flag in the wind. The temperature rose again, to 23, as they gradually removed themselves from heaven. They were back in the bedroom. They had never liked the beach until that day, and they still had never been, neither together nor apart.


Declan Tan is a freelance journalist from London, England currently living in Nuremberg, Germany where he also teaches English as a Foreign Language, because it pays for food. He has published short stories and poetry on 'Thought Catalog' and 'Underground Voices' and in 'DotDotDash'. He also writes regularly for a few online publications.

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