by L.J. Spillane
The dunes make the beach look like the surface of Mars. Guests moonwalk, onwards, leaving pockmarks in the sand that trail sinking feet, unable to travel faster if they tried. These movements are the stuff of nightmares, bent through my lens corrected vision which is blurry in the breeze.
Mrs Greene superglues the final piece of the vase, drops the tube into her handbag, and gives me the thumbs up. Lilies lie in a bucket near to Reggie, her Basset Hound. Other guests sip from sparkling flutes in the cool sun, or doodle in the ground with their heels.
Katy Greene squats in her dress and invites me to stroke the sand. She convinces me it’s warm, silky like Reggie’s coat. It should be comforting, reassuring, but as I crouch, Katy gives the command: ‘dig’. Reggie flicks sand behind him. I brush it off my dress like star dust. Some goes in my face and it stings like salt, so I adjust prickly lenses.
‘Don’t touch your face with dirty hands,’ says Katy.
I’m almost positive I’ve said that to Hec’s nephew when Katy’s been over.
Mrs Greene casts the last of the lilies into the cracked vase, then produces a hand-held fan to dry the glue more quickly. She yells when her daughter drops blocks of damp sand onto my dress trail, and tackles the mud apologetically with a wet wipe.
‘When I’m twenty, Hector will only be thirty-one,’ Katy says.
The buggy bounces down the beach like a lunar rover, pearl ribbons and chocolate butterflies streaming behind. Hec springs out. He looks so young.
Uncle Michael winks at Hec, and escorts a man with a metal detector away from the velvet carpet.
Katy steals something from her mother’s handbag and strolls over to the buggy.
‘Hec,’ I say. He smiles, puts his arm around me, silencing doubt, inadvertently manoeuvring us away from the girl. He’s Hector Mottison, I’m Victoria Dunne. My worries drift away into the sea.
Walking up the velvet carpet, I look back. I see Mrs Greene pulling her daughters arm away from the buggy, snatching something to place in her own handbag. Hec squeezes my hand. Looking forwards, I smile at the registrar.
Despite the unsteady beginning, the ceremony goes well. He’s Mr Mottison, I’m Mrs Mottison. Taking back steps to the buggy, he’s shaking hands, I’m carrying shoes and flowers. I throw my bouquet. Helen catches it, not Katy.
We jerk along the beach, clinging to the cockpit. Sand collects like brown sugar. Hec half stands, leans over the windshield, then brakes hard, hunks of sand sliding off. I follow him around the vehicle. A curve of silica adheres to the bonnet, a flattened, glistening doughnut. I can’t decide if the glitter better reminds me of crushed ginger snaps or emery cloth. Looking holistically, the curves create a cut-out heart shape. Spawned from sticking sand, the characters ‘HM + KG’ lie inside the heart, precisely marked, and seemingly well practiced.
L.J Spillane lives in Manchester. She swears that JD and water does a better job than Covonia. She hopes to get over illness soon and is available at @LJSpillane/www.ljspillane.com.