Cailín Álainn

The first thing Lisa asked when she saw the ocean was whether he had a blanket in the trunk of his car.

‘No,’ Chris said. ‘I’ve never needed one.’

‘Then you should go to the beach more often,’ she said. ‘Jesus, if I lived in this country, I’d be down all the time. Here, pull over.’

He pulled the car off the main road and up into one of the sandy parking bays that was marked out with faded lines. The tyres crunched over the sand as he came to a stop and it was still early morning; he could feel the warning presence of the sun on his forearm resting on the open window, promising the day would be hot. Before he’d even turned the ignition off she was unbuckling her seat belt and opening the door.

‘Come on, then,’ she said. ‘We’re going for a swim.’

She was down on the shore as he was still locking the car. She pushed one shoe off with the toe of the other before steadying herself with her hand and removing the second, setting them high and neat on an outcropping of rock. She looked around only briefly before slipping the straps of last night’s dress down over her shoulders and stepping out of it in her underwear.

Chris watched her as she waited for him. Her body was slim and pretty, her blonde hair was light and she unselfconsciously tucked a wayward strand behind her ear. With the summer, her skin had tanned to a light, dusky brown.

‘Hurry up!’ she shouted, smiling. ‘I’m still a little drunk, and you need to watch I don’t drown!’

She took her time walking down to the water, throwing a backwards glance over her shoulder to see Chris strip down to his boxers. When he was done he broke into a chase, his feet pushing out against the sand and she laughed and ran into the surf.

He waded out to meet her, slowed by the pull of the water, and she called something out to him.

‘What?’ he yelled.

‘I said, it’s fecking freezing!’ she yelled back. She stood with the sea reaching up above her midriff; her arms locked around her chest.

‘What did you expect?’ he said, suddenly aware himself as the cold water splashed up and over his waist, turning his boxers from light to dark blue.

She saw the look on his face and clapped her hands over her mouth to muffle another laugh.

‘Told you so,’ she said, as he finally caught her. And then she moved quickly to shove him in the chest. Unbalanced and unexpecting, Chris fell back, throwing a hand out automatically to catch her slender, damp wrist, pulling her down too.

The sea wrapped around him, a cold, sharp shock that embraced him in an instant. She tumbled down on top of him, a weight that was at once welcome and obtrusive as her hip caught him in the middle of his thigh.

He broke back up through the spray and blinked rapidly, running the back of his hand across his eyes so he could see. She took longer than he did to regain her feet, spitting salt and pulling her wet hair back. The water was better for both of them now, the sun drying the foam on their skin.

‘Well,’ she said. ‘At least it tastes better than the fecking Atlantic.’

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Simon Smithson

Simon Smithson is an Australian writer who dreams of escaping from this prison continent. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, in print and online. He loves the Oxford Comma, or ‘list comma’ as it is sometimes known in less formal circles. He loves it like he loves TV, books, and the internet. He is currently enjoying writing for

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