The International Writers Magazine: A Tale of Tortured Lovers
Bailey, get up, she isnt coming.
Baileys muscles defied him, choosing instead to obey the
pleading of his heart. Wait for her.
He had never felt
so weary. The sea air seemed bitter and clammy to him, it clutched at
the lining of his throat and made him cough. Sweat oozed from his crying
pores. On this, Baileys shore, the sea was acid, the sand between
his fingers was a hot irritant, the sky so blank it made his memory
banks jealous. He racked them, searching for a painless, happy recollection,
but overturned none. His head felt overcrowded just the same.
If only she were here, I would know freedom again.
He rolled his eyes left, then right, the retinas, irises, pupils all
begging to behold the cause of this torment, the keeper of his soul,
the destroyer of all he had cherished.
There! Shes walking right towards you, there!!
Baileys heart wrenched forward, attacking his ribs as she got
closer. Her bare feet sank beneath the golden grains with each step,
her calves revealed by rolled up jeans, slender, sunburnt. The sight
of her thighs, her pink stomach, her pert chest, her smooth shoulders,
her awkwardly long and imperfect, perfect neck, sent ripples of familiar
delight through every part of Baileys body; each nerve ending
zinged into life, sparking like electricity cables.
She was almost close enough to touch and hold forever. The face which
had both haunted and comforted him for so long was unchanged and, to
Bailey, as beautiful as ever. That nut-brown hair, wild from the climate
and sea-spray. Her jaw still strong, her lips still with that unforced
pout, her complexion reddened by the sun but still flawless, her cheekbones
And her eyes. Oh, Bailey, her eyes. They were the thrones upon which
the rest of her beauty sat. Shimmering, sparkling out at him across
the sand, shaming the nearby waters with their colour and depth, framed
by ebony eyelashes that curled like tiny petals on budding flowers.
Baileys insides groaned, his exterior seeming, as always, unworthy
of what was before it. His old desire slapped him across the face, kicked
him in the groin, pricked at him like the stem of a rose. There was
a time and there were feelings that were long lost, and could not be
She spoke first, the sound of her voice washing over him and lathering
"Hi, Bailey. You look ill."
He forced a smile. "Cant handle this heat like I used to.
Guess Ive been back in the city too long."
He kept his eyes on the horizon, afraid that seeing her smile back at
him, even slightly, would make him scream, laugh, come, die, all at
the same time. Baileys insides raged, refuelled, restarted the
battle she was to blame for. His agony was her fault. His thorny heaven.
Jenn remained motionless, stoic, watching Bailey as he shifted from
foot to foot. She didnt blink. He couldnt meet her gaze.
"How is it, being a city-boy again?"
"Same as it was before I guess. Just me and Dad. In the flat. Its
not that far from where we used to live, you know before
"Yeah, Mum said."
what about you? Still pretty nice down here."
"Id say its lost a lot of its appeal."
Bailey waited, exhaled a short breath, and tore his eyes from the monotony
of the sand to take in the inimitability of Jenns face. When he
spoke, his voice was barely more than a whisper.
really misses your mum."
I called you because
I wish I had called you
"No, I dont. Its better that we kept apart completely,
like they wanted. Im glad you didnt call me before."
He struggled to show her a faint smile, which made her frown as if hed
raised his hand to her. She took a step closer, and Bailey visibly shrank.
She made no further movements.
"I called now because Mum asked me to. She wanted us to meet up
for me to talk to you about something that
to talk about."
"Theyre getting back together. Renewing the wedding vows
in autumn, they want us to wear the same outfits as last time, suit,
the blue dress for you, with those long earrings and your hair tied
at your neck, just the same. As if the time in between never happened."
Bailey regurgitated his fathers words with the smile on his lips
having slipped, so that now his dark face bore an awful blend of hysteria,
irony, anger and disbelief. Tears of helplessness formed in Jenns
"How can they want that when I exist in the time in between?"
He asked her in an accusatory hiss, "Dad sat me down last night,
before you rang me out the blue and got me back down to this fucking
place. I just listened to him without saying a thing and then went into
the kitchen and made a sandwich. I made a fucking sandwich! Because
thats how I have to be, normal, normal remember, your mums
favourite word, we have to be a normal family Jennifer, remember that!"
"Do you think Im not angry?" She asked him in a strong,
proud voice as she steeled her eyes against his useless rage. He laughed
and turned away, back to kicking up dust-clouds from the floor. Jenn
took two large strides forward clumsily and yanked Bailey round to face
"You hate how you reacted to the news? Well so do I, I wish I could
have felt nothing and just nodded and made myself a snack but I didnt,
I had to sit there and lie to my own mother because she asked me, she
asked me for the first time since you and your dad moved out how I felt
about you, about me and you Bailey!"
His soul ripped as he reminded her, "There is no me and you, Jenn."
They remained silent for the time it took for a ship to enter their
line of vision on the horizon and then make its slow exit. As the boat
faded into the distance, Jenn spoke again.
"My mum talked for ages, she asked me lots of questions
said it was our fault that her and your dad separated, but she wished
theyd handled it better after they found out because we were just
children after all...She said she couldnt be happy, shed
tried but she couldnt be without your dad. And
see why she had to sacrifice anything."
"We never asked her to."
"Then she asked me if I still had inappropriate feelings towards
Bailey wasnt religious, but he prayed then to whatever was responsible
for his creation as he asked her, "And what did you say?"
"Like I said, I lied to her."
"Yes. I said I didnt mind at all if she went back to the
man she loved, of course I didnt, and that my feelings were nothing
compared to...Well. I suppose my feelings cant matter anymore
anyway. I suppose they never should have. Im in love with you
Bailey, just like before, only itll be worse this time because
now I have to pretend that Im not, and if I couldnt do it
before how the hell am I going to now?"
Bailey wondered if anyone could say something that would both crush
and rebuild him simultaneously like that ever again. His vision blurred
and he realised she had sat next to him. Every sound she made was magnified
because of his adoration of all she did.
He said quietly, "My dad told me that he understood that it seemed
like we were in love, but we are both too young to know what love really
is. Because they have the right, the authority to do that, dont
they, to limit feelings to what they can get their heads around! But
I know what I feel, and I cant help it Jenn."
The wrath in Baileys voice died. He forced himself to look at
her again, and even managed to cup her cheek with his hand. He lost
himself in the absurd blue of her eyes. Jenn remained stony-faced, but
Bailey could feel her trembling with the effort of keeping herself together.
He would know that tremble until the day he died.
"How dare they tell me I dont love you. How dare they not
let me." She whispered to him.
Kiss her. Just kiss her, before she is your sister again, on paper if
not by blood, and in both your parents eyes.
But he didnt. She touched his hand and gently leaned her forehead
against his, cradling them together, impenetrable. The feel of his flesh
against hers was unrivalled.
"What do we do now?" She asked.
He let out a heavy, frustrated, futile sigh. "Lets just stay
here until one of them comes looking. Let them find us like this. Prove
that weve had to say goodbye all over again."
Seagulls flocked noisily overhead, harsh, obtrusive, inconsiderate.
The pulsing sunrays were scalding and smug, and a trespassing little
girl with obligatory bucket and spade was going over the lines Bailey
had marked by foot in the bumps of the beach.
But Bailey didnt notice any of these things as he sat with his
locked arms around Jenn, the girl who was too close to him to touch
and hold forever.
© Lauren Almey - September 2005
Lauren is a final year English/Media student at the University of Portsmouth
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