I haven’t worked on it for several months. It got pushed aside once I started working on The Gudmut for my uni assignment. It had been a potential frontrunner but the The Gudmut just grew legs and ran.
I chose to add the photo of myself at Portobello Beach in Edinburgh to this post as it was exactly the beach that I had envisaged all the years I’d been conjuring up a particular image of a beach when listening to the Simple Minds song “Special View”. I always saw young lovers meeting up at a beachfront by a wave-breaker and so Winched To Safety was my attempt to write out a scene involving these two young lovers I saw in my mind’s eye when listening to the song.
So…here goes nothing! As I say, I’ve not worked on it since late April or early May so there’s probably aspects of it I’d change now if I read it before posting it but I wanted to keep it as it was when I left, if for no other reason than to log just how much my writing has changed within the space of a few months. (P.S. You may need to be a Glaswegian or au fait with your Scots vernacular to get the pun intended with the title of the story.)
Winched To Safety
Caught in a reverie she is only vaguely conscious of the sound of the waves lapping at the shore edge. Little gurgling gulps that clap at the already wet and compacted sand. There is a crisp chill to the air. She sits upon the concrete windbreaker that stretches along the beach for hundreds of yards. She told him she’d meet him here at this part of the wall near where it juts out and has a row of bench seats for the sand-weary beachgoers to sit on. Some people that come here just like to walk the promenade and take in the view and never actually walk along the shore or pitch up on the sand. Fewer still take a swim in the ocean. That’s for the gallus and gleakits. Alicia is not one of them. She is among the majority that enjoys the view and the sea air but never sits on the sand. She rarely takes off her shoes and walks along the shoreline. It needs to be particularly warm weather for that to happen and today is not one of those days. Besides, she’s waiting for John and he won’t know where to meet her if she is walking along the shoreline or the promenade.
Taking a second to lift her head from being sunk down and almost buried between her clavicles, she spots him walking towards her. He’s looking out to sea as he strides along. He called her this morning and asked her to meet him at the beach at five o’clock. He had work until four and needed an hour to get from work to here. He sounded tense when he called. It was one of those ‘can we talk?’ calls. Why do people do that? Make a call in which they ask ‘can we talk?’, only to arrange a time for a meeting in which this talk will take place? Why not just say it there and then? Why make such a mystery of it? God, people are bloody weird, Alicia concluded. John was just her kind of weird though. Sort of exotic to her. Not exactly a man’s man. He didnae do the usual guy things. She liked the way he could be both gallus and shoogly at the same time. There was a strange kind of beauty in the way he carried himself. She thought he was stunning and every time she saw him her heart melted away just a little bit mair. It would melt even mair if he smiled his uneven smile at her. It was not his teeth that were crooked. It was the shape of his mouth. The way his lips curled slightly upwards at the sides so that even if his face appeared otherwise expressionless, his mouth always belied a smile of some kind.
As he neared closer Alicia could see he wasn’t smiling but his mouthed always smiled in spite of itself. Her stomach churned into a somersault. Her insides tensed as he reached her. Why did he look so gloomy? He took a seat beside her.
“What’s up? I’ve been fretting about this ‘can we talk’ all day.”
“Oh, ah didnae mean to make you worry. It’s nothing really. Well, ah hope it’s nothing.”
“Okay. So, what is it?”
“Kenny said he saw you with Dougie the other day. He said you looked ‘cosy’. He reckons you were winching him.”
From her bowed-head position in which she had barely been acknowledging John or her surroundings, she twists her head to face him and stares in furrowed incredulity.
“Whit you aon aboot? With Dougie? Why would I? And not even with Dougie but with anyone for that matter?”
“Ah dunno. That’s whit he told me. He swatched you and Dougie winching.”
“And…you believe him?”
“Naw. That’s why ah’m asking.”
“Well, if you’re asking then you must believe him.”
“So, you deny it?”
“Of course ah deny it! It never happened! Ah mean…mon! It’s DOUGIE. He’s a pal and all and ah like him but DEFINITELY naw like THAT! Why would you even HINK I’d get with him?”
“Whit ‘people’? Whit is this, John? Is this your way of breaking up with me? ‘It’s not me, it’s you’. Is that it?”
“No. Ah widnae do that. Ah dinnae wanna break up with you. Ah…ah…Ah’m sorry, okay. Ah messed up.”
“Aye. You did. A dunno whit Kenny hinks he saw but he didnae swatch me winching Dougie bloody Maguire. IAh’d never do that to you. Ever. Not to you. Not to any guy ah was with. Jeez-o!”
John takes Alicia’s left hand. She tries to resist at first but then relaxes and allows him to take hold. He wraps it into both of his and gently begins stroking the back of her hand with his left hand. Alicia returns to her sunken-head position, outcasting all external distractions and stimuli. It takes a while for her to simmer down. She begins to calm from the feeling of her hand nestling in John’s and from his stroking. Her racing heart is slowly returning to normal. He really doesn’t know, does he? He has absolutely no idea how much she loves him. She fears he doesn’t care but given what has been said maybe he does? No, that’s just jealousy. That’s not love, surely?
John looks away and out to shore, his inner thoughts a mangle of words swirling around inside his head. Oh, man. I’ve blown it. I really like Alicia. Actually, the hing is, I hink I love her. Naw. I mean I actually DO love her. She’ll think it’s pish if I tell her the noo. Why did I listen to that gleakit? What would Kenny know anyway? He’s a bam.
He looks down, gazing at Alicia’s hand in his, then looks up wanting to see her face. She’s looking down at her lap. Loosening his grip on her hand he motions to get up off the wall.
“Ah’m gonna go.”
Grabbing on to his right hand as he starts to pull away, Alicia pleads, “Wait! Please! Can we take a donder along the promenade? I have something to say. Ah just needed a minute.”
They walk a little way along the promenade. All the time Alicia has been trying to conjure up the courage to say what she wants to say to him. The breeze has picked up since she arrived and it carries the saltiness of the sea in its strength. As she wets her lips to speak, the saltiness reaches her mouth and brings with it a brief attack of nausea. Her nerves almost get the better of her. Nothing can be gained by remaining silent. Still holding John’s right hand in her left, she slows her pace and leans upon the windbreaker. He stands beside her. She turns to stand in front of him.
“The first time ah keeked you, ah knew. You were so different to any guy I’d met before. The way you can be so… Gallus but shy. The way you are with your pals. The way you smile at strangers, even the jakies and the bams. The way you treat your maw and da. Everything. Your hair, your face, your eyes. I feel boak saying it but I pure love everything about you. The way your ears stick out. The way you laugh. You cackle like a wee hyena. You melt my heart. I adore you. And I would never, EVER kiss someone else while I’m with you. I’d never want to. You’re everything. The whole package. I love you.”
He smiles that proper smile. Broad and brilliant.
“Ah thought I fucked this up. Ah dinnae know why ah paid any notice of Kenny, the shite wee bawbag. Ah wanted to say it after. Ah wanted to tell you that ah love you but ah thought you’d hink it was me just saying it for the hell of it. That you’d be too fumin’ to care or think ah was being real. You’re braw, you are, Alicia. Ah love you n aww.”
They lean into each other. Sweeping strands of hair away with gentle fingers, John looks into Alicia’s eyes. She’s got eyes the colour of Bucky bottles. Bucky gives him the boak, but he loves her eyes. Their lips meet. Now the salt tastes good, Alicia’s inner voice whispers to her.
She remembers the first time they met and the first time they kissed. Now that was a winch! Not an accused winch. Not a winch that didn’t actually happen but a real one. She’s sure that the thing she loves most about John is his lips. Those ones that permanently curl into that fixed smile of his. John ‘luscious lips’ Lachlan. That’s what he’d been from that day on.
“Ah was never going to stay angry with you. Kenny’s a bolt and ah cannae believe that you actually took anything he said for real. I was fumin’, aye. But if you didnae care, why would you be jealous? That’s what I was hinking anyway,” Alicia said once they stopped winching.
“Can I come back to your bit?” he asks her.
“Aye. You might even get a lumber…mabbies.” Now it’s her time to smile.