Never Tear Us Apart
The warm summer sun is hot. Some would say too hot but I like it. I feel like I’m recharging. Laying here on the beach with nothing but sand in either direction and a bright blue horizon in the distance. It’s paradise. The sea-water is quickly evaporating leaving a crystallising layer of salt on my skin. It feels a little itchy and think about going back in the sea. Give me a minute. I haven’t been this relaxed in years!
I pick up a paper left by my side and try to read it. The language is weird, gibberish. Not one discernable word. Then there’s a piercing scream. I drop the paper to the ground and look around nervously. In the distance, coming over the dune are two short but fast-moving dwarf-like figures rushing towards me with unbelievable speed. Before I know it they’re jumping all around me and kicking sand in every direction. They’re still shouting excitedly, I think it’s English but there’s a distinct twang to their voices.
“Will you two please behave yourselves just for ten little minutes?” pleads a distant, out-of-breath male voice. “Otherwise your Uncle Dan won’t help you build that sandcastle.”
The kids stop suddenly and stare at me. “Uncle Dan I’m sorry” Katie says through her sweet mischievous smile. “Will you please help us build a sandcastle?”
Matthew just stands there with that same smile. If I didn’t know better, or if I was dreaming, I’d think I was in a remake of Village Of The Damned!
“Bloody hell” gasps Jason as he finally catches up with his over-energetic off-spring. “Do you reckon Dad had this problem with us?”
“Not so much with you” I shoot back. “You always were a slow ass!” He’d inherited Dad’s stocky build from a young age, so the most sporting activity I could ever visualise him doing was boxing. Now the pounds have piled on and the bulging belly is there in a big way. It makes him look like the over-worked, over-stressed father figure he always seemed destined to be. It suits him.
“True. And you were on reigns ’til you were what, fourteen?” This was me and my brother. Hardly stand-out or original, but having not seen him in a good few years it’s comforting to see how quickly we’ve fallen back into old habits. “By the way this thing has been going mad every five minutes.” Jason throws the new bane of my life at me – my work Blackberry. The price you pay for being top dog I guess. I switch the gadget on, now past the childish thought I’d had when I first received it which was it was a prop from Star Trek. There are countless emails from Siren Media’s top brass, all to do with sales figures and revenue; stuff that I need to care about now. There are messages about important meetings that the entire company knows I can’t make this week and a bunch of health & safety reports that would patronise a five year old. There’s a couple from Emma with detailed production schedules for the next quarter, and most excitingly of all, a copy of an article from an industry magazine about our new RAJAR figures – up an average of ten percent across the entire station. All important as you can imagine, but still, I’m on holiday, even if it is for a few days over August Bank Holiday. I send a quick note back to Emma thanking her for the good news, telling her that I’m already nicely tanned just to wind her up a little more, and turn this damn machine off.
“I thought you came here for a holiday” yells Dad from the sand-dune behind me. He’s stood there like Spain’s answer to Indiana Jones in his kaki trousers and Australian outback hat. “If I can take a day off I’m sure you can!” He strolls down with Liz on his arm and Maria carrying a wicker basket of food. He’s still the strong, determined man he always was. Hair is completely grey and there are a few more wrinkles around his eyes, but it just makes him look more distinguished. He hasn’t changed one bit, as he proves by dropping subtle hints about heading back to the hotel soon.
“Dad we heard you this morning. You were drawing up a deal with Raph at eight, and I heard you shouting at one of your chamber maids around ten.”
Dad opens his mouth to respond, but Liz and Jason get in there before him. “A real businessman never has a day off!” Apparently so, even Raph has adopted the same mantra. The two of them have arranged an exclusive deal for Raph’s new fledgling airline to fly customers from the UK to the hotel here in Spain. Great idea, especially if it gets you a free ride! Raph and I manage to chat almost every week, although it’s probably more him wanting to pick my brains for a different name for his company after Dad rejected the name ‘Sky-Dogs’. He said it sounds like something you microwave and cover in ketchup just to get some form of flavour.
Maria lays out a blanket and starts laying out a massive family picnic, while Jason and me concentrate all our efforts on stopping the kids from adding an apparent missing ingredient of sand to the carefully prepared food. “Christ you’d think they’d be sick of the sand by now!” Maria says, brushing off a few granules from the blue container with the butter. Jason and Maria have been doing so well with their Sterling Backpackers they’ve been able to buy a house right on the Australian coast, just over half an hour out of Sydney. The kids are on the beach all the time, but apparently they don’t get sick of it. We’ve already agreed to visit them, finally, for a couple of weeks around November time. I joke that we’ll have to get an immunisation booster before though!
“You’re such a lucky sonuvabitch, you know that?” my brother starts.
“Well you know that scene in that Bond film?” I’m guessing we’re on another one of Jason’s trademark tangents again. “You know, where that woman in the white bikini comes out of the ocean?”
“Ursula Andreas?” I ask, unaware that he’s witnessing a live action re-enactment of said famous scene.
“You are one lucky sonuvabitch man!” My brother isn’t jealous. He’s just stating the obvious.
I run down to the shore line to meet Suzy as her feet start touching the hot dry sand. She stops to shake salt-water out of her hair. Someone presses the slow button again. Waves are crashing behind her and the sun is giving her already tanned body an almost angelic glow. “You should’ve called me in” she says, trying to get the knots out of her hair. “I didn’t know they were here!” She’s finally taking a short break after spending months working on Vantage, which after only a few months is already regarded as one of the top modelling agencies in London. It’s even poached a few clients from some rival agencies, which hasn’t gone down too well with some. Add running her business empire to her hectic modelling schedule, which has gone from boobs-out-page3 work to your more classy swimwear and catalogue work, and you’ve got one knackered sexy model.
“You looked to be enjoying yourself too much!”
“Kind of” she replies with her trademark business voice. “I was just thinking about offering Karim an exclusive contract with Vantage. What do you think?” Both Karim and Brad were a big hit from day one at the agency, with Brad becoming one of their most in-demand models. And Karim’s eye for a good shot has been getting him more and more offers of work from rival companies, which looks to be worrying Suzy. She wants the best people working for her and her only.
“I think you should do it as soon as we get back”. I reply, putting my arm around her. “You could mention it to them at dinner on Tuesday.”
“Okay Gnasher, subtle as ever! I’ll stop thinking about work.” she says, stopping me in the sand. She obviously sensed the tone. “So are we going to tell them now?”
“Seems as good a time as any.”
“And should we ask your Dad about having the ceremony here?”
“He’d love it. Just don’t expect to be in charge of the day ok?”
She smiles and kisses me softly, leaving a combination of lip balm and sea-salt on my lips. “Suits me fine!” Yeah, she says that now!
I watch Mole-butt run up the sand to the rest of the family, very aware that I’m wearing the broadest smile on my face. For some reason I hear a couple of waves crashing behind me. I turn round and look out over the moving sea. It’s beautiful, but empty. There’s nothing there for me. I run up the sand, to the future.
My brother’s right as usual. I am a lucky sonuvabitch!
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