Old Quarry

They were down at the old quarry, where the newer humans threw themselves off the cliff as though they were on fire.

“I can’t get out yet .” Her smiled duplicated his own as the realization clarified. “I’m too old… to be, shall we say, this happily tumescent”.

” I don’t mind if you don’t.” She paddled lazily around him. “And as for Arwen, she’s seen much fatter men than you wearing Speedos in Greece”.

Arwen’s vivid, lovely scream plummeted with her from the 30 meter height. then smothered in the water. Then she surfaced, eyelashes like spider legs, smiling and spouting water. The world was hers and he was entrusted to love and protect them always. For at least this Sunday.

Life is also always wasted on the olde, he thought. We don’t understand it. Like cutting fretwork; you always snap something. But this summer, he wouldn’t think of that. His role was to be oldish and enjoy the myriad miracles. He almost had that down. It was becoming a doorway he could open at will, rain or shine. He wondered how it would feel when it all caved in, when he felt the knife’s twist, the seeping poison that was jealousy.

They all submerged at once and bobbed to the surface in a magical synchronicity. It would be easy enough to say those words, those three words that would bludgeon everything they had delicately built. His hand touched her thigh as he lifted a hand to wipe water from his eyes. She was too beautiful for words. And Arwen, simply a miracle. He pushed himself down into the colder current, pushed deeper, eyes straining through the murk. What are you after?, he interrogated himself. “Something from my past that has gone,” he answered himself. The quarry’s deeps were impenetrable.

The thing, when you were young, was to be seen out of the water, not in it.

He stayed deep, watching the churning entry of the jumpers and divers; in fragments of silence listening to his heartbeat.

He surfaced with a tranquilly empty mind, to Claudette’s voice. This was rare, and he listened like an anthropologist, never quite keeping up with her words. “What the hell? Where did you go? We thought you’d drowned or something.”

Her words echoed away. And what could that ‘something’ be?, he wondered. Impossible to answer, impossible to put right. He paddled arms and legs, listening, watching the leaping world of youth as if he were a tree, deep-water-rooted. When the time was right, he could simply say “I’m sorry” and probably have to do it maybe once more and then the day would right itself.

He beckoned to her and she ignored him, her gaze scanning the water and cliff for Arwen, until Arwen popped up at her mother’s back.

“I was trying to find you and couldn’t see you anywhere.”

“Well, here I am.” She kicked off, spraying them both with water.

“Just kiss him,” she said.

They stared after her and noticed that they had held hands somewhere in between then and now. He lifted her hand to kiss it. Then she turned, this secret woman, and kissed him fully… gently… on his lips.


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