Sandy Palms and Salty Kisses

Sarah K. Crockford, Trinity College, Cambridge University

There are places I don’t visit anymore. It’s a strange feeling to fully abandon a part of my past that I thought would always be ingrained in my future. Abandonment comes in many forms. Some abandonment I’ve chosen, some I haven’t. Some was forced upon me. There are places I’ve left because other people dragged me away from them. Those are the places I struggle to forget about. Those are the places that haunt my mind. 

I think back on the time we had left together. On the people we were. I know I shouldn’t dwell on the past but I do it anyway. Sometimes because I like torturing my mind, sometimes because it’s the only way to pass the time. Dwelling is a great waste of time. You should try it. 

Do you still think of me? I’m sure you do. I’m not easy to forget. I think of you. More often than I care to admit. 

My mind drags me back to the places where we were happy. I like thinking of you when you were happy. You had such a beautiful smile. Your eyes would glisten when the creases of your mouth folded upwards. It feels juvenile to describe your eyes as having sparkle. But your happiness was so innate that it would spill out onto your face whether you wanted it to or not. I liked that about you. You made me believe I could be innately happy too. 

It’s a warm day today. The sun creeps into my room and shadows dance against the concrete walls. I want to go outside and feel the sun on my face. Instead I content myself with watching demonic shapes flit across the cold grey. I can hear the whistling of birds. It calms me. 

You used to whistle. Always making noise, whistling as you worked. Like some deranged character from a fairy tale. You know, I miss your whistling now. I can hear you mocking me for admitting that. I can hear you reminding me of how temperamental I was. How one morning I would sing along and the next I would berate you for whistling. What a fastidious noise. Maybe I didn’t like it as much as I’m pretending to now. Well, the birds at least are musical. 

I’m happy I have a window. I can see the outside world. My friend who lives two storeys down doesn’t have a window. I wonder if she can still hear the birds. If they’re loud enough to cut through the dense walls.

Do you know what I miss most? Your voice. The way you talked. You had this natural melodic cadence in your prosody few people can achieve. You should have been a radio host. Or an orator of some sort. I could have seen you as a politician. You definitely had the looks. And the voice. 

The sun is getting stronger. It must be midday. I should probably eat, but I’m not hungry. I’m satiated thinking of you.

It’s the kind of lazy heat that makes you want to do nothing. Maybe a nap will do. I do a lot of napping these days. It helps me pass the time. And sleep is the most welcome of states to do a little reminiscing. 

The heat reminds me of that time you decided we should go to the beach. I didn’t want to leave the house but you dragged me out anyway. I threw such a hissy fit. I was determined to stay in bed but you never let me wallow in my misery. I wish you had. I still resent you for that.

It was a thirty-minute drive to the beach. I insisted on driving but you wouldn’t let me. I wasn’t in the right state of mind to drive. You were trying to control me. When I snapped those words at you, you sighed but didn’t reply. You just had this look in your eyes that pleaded mercy. But the more pathetic you looked the less sorry I felt for you. I sat in the car the entire way there with my arms folded and a scowl on my face. You promised me it would be fun when we got there. 

I don’t like admitting I’m wrong. To this day, it still gets me in trouble. So I never told you how wrong I was. I never apologised. I should have apologised. Because that day at the beach was lovely. You were right that I needed fresh air, to get out the house. I still remember the feeling of the wind sweeping away the hair off my face. The warm sand enveloping my toes. The rhythmic waves crashing against the shore. I think I smiled. I’m sure you noticed my instant improvement in mood but didn’t say anything. You weren’t the kind of person who always needed to be right. 

You packed my swimsuit and for that I was glad. It wasn’t summer enough to go swimming but I was feeling adventurous. You were more hesitant than I was but you still dove straight into the ocean with me. I remember feeling the gelid waters hit my body with excruciating force, but it was a welcome pain. Your lips turned blue and my fingertips withered but we didn’t care. We let the waves carry us back and forth to shore, at times delicately and with grace and at other times with such force that we were catapulted into a sandy abyss. My hair and your beard kept hold of the sand even after we decided we’d had enough and dried out in the sun. I remember the salt prickling my skin as the water evaporated off our bodies and the stinging of a tan going wrong. We sat on the beach for hours. You let me be happy. I let you hold my hand. It was the closest we’d been in days. 

I can’t drive to the ocean anymore. It’s too far and even if I wanted to, I don’t have a car. I miss having a car. 

Some days I think of you fondly. Today must be one of those days. It’s easier to remember the times we were happy then the times we were sad. Although, I like thinking about the sad times. There’s something cathartic in letting my mind seep into such misery that I can barely move. I let a tear or two trickle down my eye in the hope no one will see it as weakness. 

I never wanted to hate you but you made it so easy. The first days getting to know you were the ones I wish had stayed. But years linger on and let us decay into faded versions of ourselves. Maybe if we hadn’t aged together we would have been better off. 

Now my thoughts are taking a much gloomier form. It’s oxymoronic to return to those dark places when the sun is still shining so bright. I let the shadows it casts transport me. I see us. I see you. I hear your voice but this time it’s not melodic. It rings just barely out of tune and leaves an acrid taste in mouth. I want to shut you up but you keep whistling. Pleading. Stop, don’t do this. Don’t do this to us. But you’re the one doing this to us. I’m not doing anything, I’m only reacting to what you’ve done. 

I can see her as bright as day, a blight on our perfect life. You always claimed she never existed but I knew that somewhere she did. I can hear her calling your name like a cat purring for its lover. She’s soft-spoken and gentle in ways I never was. The world doesn’t irritate her, people don’t irritate her. She willingly obeys and goes to the beach with you, no fuss. I can smell her perfume, something sweet and easy to love. She wears it even on days when she’s alone. 

She must have been so beautiful for you to throw away our life like this. I can see her long, shaven legs. Her perfectly bronzed skin. Remember how sun burnt I was when came back from the beach? I bet she never sunburns. I want to get her out of here but she’s invading my mind. Calling my name. Teasing me. Taunting me. Why? Why? Why? Was she worth it? Did you love her? 

You never answered any of my questions. You only called me a lunatic. I was making things up. To you I was raving mad. But I knew I was sane. I knew you were deflecting. You couldn’t devote yourself to me, I was too much to love. It was only a matter of time before you moved on to someone else. So why couldn’t you admit to me that you moved on? Why was it so hard to tell the truth? I knew the truth, I could see it bleeding through your lies. I wanted to hit you but you restrained me. Told me to calm down. All I could see was her, blinding me. I bit you and you let go. That was your first mistake.

Remember how I screamed at you as I ran into the kitchen? Your eyes looked so pathetically stupid, pity splayed across your face. I was going to show you I was right. Your phone was charging on the counter. 

I meant to grab your phone but you spooked me. Crept up from behind. I meant to pick up your phone. But then you said something I could never forgive. Something that stole away all those memories of beaches, sandy palms and salty kisses. You ruined everything we had because you wanted to be right. You wanted me to be wrong. That’s not who you were. You were supposed to be kind. You were supposed to lie. You were supposed to let me be right.  

I never meant to pick up the knife but then you said those words. Called me delusional. Insane. Crazy. All those slurs for the person you knew I was. I never meant to steal your life. But you let your tongue slide. I should never have let you steal my life.  

Blood stained hands grasping at the kitchen counter left marks I couldn’t erase. No amount of bleach and poorly mopped floors saved me from the jury. They found you before they came for me. I should have hid you better but I didn’t have the strength. Your body weighed too heavy.   

The sun’s hidden behind a cloud now. It’s as if it knows where my mind has drifted. It leaves only a small sliver of light bouncing off the walls of my cell. I don’t think of silver linings. I like dwelling on the worst of our memories but I don’t like dwelling on your bloodied face. I want to remember your smile. Those eyes. 

When they still knew how to sparkle. 

Published by hypaethralmagazine

Online magazine for lonely creatives from UK universities suffering under COVID-19 lockdown. Oxford Uni based.

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