She stared over the sun-bleached table at his cracked face and smiled, deep lines criss-crossing his pale cheekbones. He was nearly eighty, but she remembered when that white moss was dark black. She traced the thin broken veins that scattered and flecked on both sides. The weather had left its mark, but the man who had followed her home after work fifty years ago was still there. He’d smelt of dust and alcohol and wore a tatty stained jacket. She was ten years older than him and expected very little. He seemed a bit creepy at first, but there was something more to him. She’d watched him grow. He’d been so low and he’d picked himself up. Maybe she’d helped; she was a turning point.
He wheezed a short cough that made the skin below his chin quiver. ‘What are you thinking?’ He asked.
Her foggy eyes drifted to the crystal blue sea for a moment. A slither of sunlight crossed the bay and brought the corners of her puckered mouth up to an impish grin. ‘You’ll never know’ she brushed her hair back.
‘Oh, I love you…’ he muttered. It hadn’t been easy, but they’d made it through.
She took another bite of her chicken sandwich, reached over and held his hand. He was sweet in his way and they looked after each other pretty well. Never wanted after anything for long. She wished she could see a little better; beyond him everything was blurry. She missed sharp lines and focussed objects. Her hand shook and as a tear formed in the corner of her eye.
‘It’s alright’ He patted her hand.
Her brow knitted for a second and a flame flashed in her eyes that had lain dormant for many years.
‘Don’t patronise me’ venom wrapped her tongue. ‘I’m not an idiot; you know how I feel about all that mushy nonsense. You don’t own me!’
‘I’m sorry’ he whispered. ‘I didn’t want it to be like this. Please don’t be angry.’ His eyes had turned to liquid now.
‘I’m not angry. And I don’t want you feeling sorry. Just don’t do it.’ This time she was firm, but a tone of care crept into her voice. She squeezed his hand tight.
‘It really is lovely here.’ He tried.
‘Yes, its beautiful. You know, I thought you were mad at first, but I don’t think I could imagine a better place to be.’ Her smile slowly returned.
‘I know it was expensive, but definitely worth it.’
‘Yes and everything is taken care of so…thoughtfully.’ She sipped the wine.
‘Better go easy now.’ He chuckled and swigged his beer. They both smiled.
In the distance a warm wind blew across the quiet sand and the sound of the insects buzzing filled he lush green forest. Cool blue water lapped in against the pale deserted beach. The salesman had told them they paid to keep it that way, to keep it peaceful. It was a very exclusive resort and did its job well. No one lived on the island anymore. In the summer it was a truly special place that brought joy to hundreds of people, yet it was never too busy or crowded and nothing was a hassle.
They ordered a last drink as soft music trickled from the speakers hidden in the hanging plants.
‘That’s lovely.’ She beamed. ‘ Did you plan that?’
‘I thought you’d like it.’ He paused and pushed his glasses further up his nose. ‘Well, I suppose…are you ready?’
‘Oh, I think so. I am feeling very tired. Shall we?’
He nodded, got out his wallet and counted out a generous tip. He laughed briefly and placed the whole wallet in the centre of the table. ‘I almost forgot.’ The waiter poured them both a glass of wine, placed a white saucer on the table and left silently. On the saucer were two small mints.
They stood and walked around the table and fell into each other’s embrace. The moment seemed to last forever, as they lost themselves in timeless thought. They picked up a mint each and popped it into each other’s mouth. The couple giggled like young lovers and pulled closer for one last soulful kiss, before collapsing painlessly to the floor.