I could tremble on the lip of life. Right at the edge, feet balanced and sure as I test the water, alert to the shudder of icy cold.
They splash and shriek, hair plastered slickly against their skin, cuts on their feet where the stones have bitten. I grimace at their recklessness, so oblivious to the perils that lurk. They are so under dressed for the whipped and frenzied September sea.
Behind me I hear a pant, feel the ancient breath of a wizened gullet struggling for air. When I turn there is nothing but sea grass and bobbing gulls.
Before me the sea lifts and lights invitingly. It looks so fun in there yet still I hesitate, waiting for the optimum moment. I could hurt myself in there.
The breath on my neck is now a caress that twists into a hushed warning. I pull the towel closer to my neck.
‘Just jump,’ I hear, faint across the salted air. ‘It’s great once you’re in.’
I hesitate then, taking a step, feel my skin explode into life as water fills my ears and there is just music and bubbles, an ethereal chant that carries me over the next wave. The very stones pulse to it. I can feel myself smiling under the water, light dancing over the ripples, waves pulling me on. I let myself drift then strike out with purpose into the dark waters ahead. Each hair taut and alert, muscles hot with the effort and the exhilaration of my blood pounding in my ears. Unwitting tears mix with the sea as I dance with the water. Dance in the sweaty, dirty, naked reality of life. I feel the desires I have suppressed, the chances I have missed, the words I left unsaid. They all wash over and away and I am no longer fearful and tremulous.
The figure is poised on the shoreline, her toes playing tentatively with the water, her eyes envious as she watches me.
‘Just do it,’ I mouth at her, ‘Just jump
Or you’ll catch your death.’