It’s what you British like to call summer-time, and you’ve dragged me to the sea. You wouldn’t believe it. The canopy of clouds is too thick for any sun to pierce its way through. Were we still in LA, on a beach day back with my family, the beach would be littered with scantily clad tourists and sunbathers. Here, we are alone. Almost alone, if you discount the faint silhouette of a man and dog tossing a ball to and fro. I don’t mind it. In fact I think I prefer it. I can hear the wind and the waves and a few stray gulls and your laugh piercing these sounds of the sea as you toss something my way.
I feel saltwater seeping into my old worn welly, but I don’t mind that either. I scrunch up my toes and it seeps slightly further into my socks, a slightly cold and prickling sensation. Your mum lent me these. Pulled the well-worn boots out of a cupboard with a delighted smile and told me I was going to love the British seaside. It took a little to win her over. I paid due care in saying please and thank you, and complimenting her cooking, but what really won her over was when I got down on my hands and knees whilst she was weeding, and asked questions about the clematis and rhododendrons. You were in the shower. I could see her face light up, the formal mask she likes to hold up around me soften. I know she’s apprehensive. They blame me a little for your jet-setting lifestyle. You always spend a lifetime in the shower, enough time for her to point out the late-Spring bloomers, and rant about the peat-laden soil in the area. After that she was warmer, brushing my shoulders as she walked past, or filling up my mug of hot coffee without asking. She pulled those wellies out of the cupboard with gusto, assuring me that despite the temperature and the dubious looking skies, we would have the best time. Alongside the wellies, I’ve been clad in a thick tweed waterproof, just the sort I imagined your family to have lying around. I almost look ready enough to go out and shoot something.
Something slaps me on the chest, and I look up. Your light peals of laughter have increased to cackles. Following the unidentified object, I find myself peering at a lilac-hued pile of what appears to be slime. Upon closer examination, I realise that it is in fact a tentacle-less jellyfish. I think you see the annoyance flash across my face, as your laughter slows and you gesture to the tide line.
“They don’t sting. These ones are harmless”.
I roll my eyes, but take a step closer to the streamlined section of beach where the water meets the sand. Hundreds of these lilac-blue blobs line the tideline.
“These guys must’ve been unlucky. Happens when the tides change, or it’s too cold”.
I didn’t know you were a jellyfish expert. I guess that sort of thing happens, when you have tweed jackets in your cupboard. I pick up a loose piece of driftwood and prod one delicately. This triggers fresh amusement on your face.
“They won’t bite. Or sting. Such a big group of them, it’s called a bloom”.
A bloom of jellyfish. How poetic.
You take a step closer, and I narrow my eyes. I don’t want to be hit by anymore harmless-or-not-so-harmless dead jellyfish. But, you pause, smile, then press your lips against mine. I can taste the salt in your kiss. You pull away, looking almost bashful, and entwine an arm around mine.
We meander back to where the car is parked, bracing against the strong winds and the gulls, and the lone man and his dog. You’ve promised your mum you won’t let me leave without tasting the finest ice cream the British seaside has to offer.