Friday, January 30, 2009

Cold Light of Day

Every morning Gino watched her as she ran along the sea-front. Her trainers, white with candy stripes, struck the asphalt with a whispered one-two. She wore leggings and a plain white t-shirt that flapped around her hips. She lived up the hill, with the university people. But in the early morning, she was his.

The café, with its herbal teas and mocha chocca coffees, wouldn’t open for at least another hour, so only Gino saw her as he rolled down his awning and unfolded his sandwich-board price-list: tea, coffee, filled rolls. No fancy stuff here. No fancy prices.

By the second set of steps that led down to the beach, the girl slowed and came to a halt. Gino knew the routine: three upward stretches, face to the sun, then the leg extensions, hands across the thigh, like a ballet dancer. He didn’t need to watch the rest, the final stretch, the jogging on the spot. She knew his routine too: the awning, the setting out of wares. Today he would offer her a smile.

He’d seen her once in a group, the university running club. They called her Laura. She kept her distance from the students, running with the older crowd. But she was no teacher, weighed down by learning and common-room clutter; she was light as air.

Gino switched on his urn, wiped down the hotplate and looked up, ready with a smile. But his timing was out: Laura was still at the steps. He watched her take the hem of her t-shirt in both hands and pull it over her head, back arched, like a diver on the high board. Underneath, a racing vest, skin-tight, electric blue. She knotted the outer layer around her waist and gathered hair back into its black ribbon tie.

Gino flinched. Her shoulders cut the raw air like knives, her arms were twig-thin. He thought of a sparrow, fallen from its nest, the web of bones on show like so much underwear.

Gino rearranged the sauce bottles and spat on the cloth he used to clean the counter. He wouldn’t watch her any more.

Ali Bacon


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Ali. I've read through this piece several times. I love the rhythm of it and the way that you use this to emphasise the disparities between the two worlds.The phrase 'the web of bones on show like so much underwear' is memorable. And what a beautifully observed study of a certain aspect of male sexuality. Is this the end of a simple enfatuation or the beginning of something more sinister?

AliB said...

Allan, thank you. In fact when I began, this was about Laura, but I can see that her observer has become the more interesting character!

douglas.bruton said...

A nice piece of observation here... I can certainly see that girl and can see Gino watching her... I like 'Her shoulders cut the raw air like knives, her arms were twig-thin.'

I did wonder why Gino decided at the end that he wouldn't watch her any more... and I am left wondering.

Look forward to something developing from this... a fuller story maybe? :-)



Anonymous said...

Thank you, Douglas (think I had that one coming!)
Re your comment on quality, I agree. But we know the places where it can be found.
('Fraid your blog doesn't like my comments today).

douglas.bruton said...

What one did you have coming? Thought I'd only said good things here... no criticism... just a hunger for more!!

And what comment on quality? I have made so many 'public' comments recently (am on holiday and been enjoying myself - too much clearly... have no idea what I've said)

And then the enigma of that place where quality can be found? Are you going to tell me, or have I ot find it for myself?

And finally that bracketted close... but I read this post first on my blog!! So what happened... did my blog make a rude noise when you posted? Did it tell you where to stuff your post and call you names? If so, then I apologise on its behalf... if not, then here is another connundrum and I am well and truly stumped.

Having fun