Setting sun, last dash grasped memory of fun, rollercoasters on the prom. Scuff, scuffle, sleet, duffle, caress, ruffle. Kerfuffle. Summers last forever, last summer.
This time she was late, she had been out with her mother shopping for a bridesmaid dress. More ruffles. She said not on her life. He couldn’t believe she was sixteen, seemed like she’d been around forever.
He didn’t consider himself clever. He couldn’t spell. He couldn’t smell trouble. He was clean, free, fresh as a breeze, naive. Cleave. It was one of those words, you know that meant the opposite. Wasn’t that onomatopoeic? Automatic kudos with Miss Bradley in English. No. Wrong. Onomatopoeic meant stuff like sludge, splash, spaghetti – sounded like it was.
No-one sounded like they were, he’d figured that one out but he hadn’t told anyone. Cowards sounded loud and women with metal like Miss Bradley sometimes couldn’t be heard. He didn’t sound like he was, if he did he would have sounded like a dog whistle. What was the sound of Emily?
What he hadn’t said was that he didn’t have to.
Cleave. The plum from the stone. At the shore with a punnet, he broke the skin of it’s dark flesh, tore it from it’s heart. Plums, Emily couldn’t stand the things, she took it out of his hand and flung it into the water laughing. Plum dunk. Plum drunk, her mother would have been outraged.
There was a chance her mother was dying. She’d seen a letter from the hospital on the sideboard, she’d told him, in a whisper, in a rush, then refused to say anymore.
So many dusks on the beach with the sand grains rubbing out the edges of Emily and Eddie. Heads bent together as the sun split it’s skull, spilled it’s blood into the water. He wore black, he threatened to get a tattoo. In quiet coves at next day middays when the sun revived, smiled, blasted them, they basted their limbs and she explored the topology of his shoulder blades, rib cage, contours with many reverberations, spider legs, sleek starchitectural trusses. He had this vague idea of designing buildings but he didn’t get the necessary points. His mother had asked what was the point of being an architect if they all had to emigrate; there was no room for fancy design among the battalion of bungalows painted in shades of ghastly pastel.
He was leaving anyway. Cleave.
Clinging to each other like the ivy on the walls of the convent. They’d walked past it on the way home from school before the summer began. The convent made them smile because they could never be like that. He kissed her in it’s shadow. But in the fast forward of his life Eddie would one day find himself in the closeted halls of his bedsit, dreaming of waste paper bin basketball, offering up blue prayers for deliverance.
Leaves, the first ones, almost forgivable, began to detach themselves and fall. It was almost autumn. He had a friend in London who had a floor. He had all sorts of plans and alternate futures. Emily had a wedding to go to, a dress to wear, a smile to put on. The days were numbered. He was unruffled.
How many last days could there be? When she went quiet he thought she thought of her mother maybe, of him, of maybe nothing. He climbed inside her eyes but did not see everything. Out to the hills, he stole her on his motorbike, down by the sea they cleaved to each other on the beach, bleached in the endless holiday light.
He didn’t have to go. She could not be everything. She bit her lip, he held her hair, back, hips, fingertips, loosening.