I trace a line through the condensation on my cocktail glass, watching the droplets trickle and scurry and feeling their coolness beneath the pad of my finger. The surface of the glass squeaks slightly, satisfyingly, from the pressure of my touch.

God it’s good. Lying here, no pressure, no responsibilities. Just the regular crash, swoosh, crash of the Pacific waves on the hot sand. That sound itself as fresh as the bracing salty water, washing through my mind and rinsing out the residue of life, work, obligations…I take a deep breath, cleansed, and settle my head back on the lounger.

The beach itself is broad, glittering. Its white sand stretches beyond view like perfectly pressed linen on an endless bed, offering repose to life-weary escapees like myself. I sip the cocktail, ice cubes bumping their chill against my upper lip. An unfamiliar drink concocted by the barman, green in colour and with a not-unpleasant medicinal tang. I feel its icy burn travel down my throat and comfort me further.

The shade has shifted, and the blaring sun dares to make me squint. I pull my hat over my face, the light blinking through gaps in the woven straw. I inhale the aroma of sun cream and my own hot scalp from inside the – headspace? Hollow? Does the inner shape of a hat have its own name? I wonder, and marvel inwardly at the luxury of pondering such trivial things. I am cocooned inside the hat, a secret hideaway where only my mind and glimmers of light exist, safe.

The shrill cry of a sea bird rouses me for a moment. A monotonous, unnatural sound that must be an exotic creature I’ve never seen before.

Curious, I pull the hat from my face but remember it’s held on with elastic that rubs behind my ears. I let go and it pings back onto my face, and I can breathe again. That familiar smell of myself, the sharpness of oxygen. Ozone from the sea.

My cocktail finished, I feel pleasantly woozy. Where has my glass gone? No matter, it’ll be collected. I no longer have responsibilities. Not even for my own consumption.

Sleepy, I run my hand over the surface of the white sand, its surface completely smooth, starched, cool. 

A young woman with a trolley of drinks passes by, distributing more cocktails to fellow loungers. She knows what each of them will like, and leaves another green invention on my bedside. I will drink this before visiting time, I think, so that I am at my most sociable. I chuckle again, knowing full well that there is no visiting time, no visitors, it’s just me. Being sociable with myself. A little drunk. The nurse’s rubber-soled shoes squeak again on the scrubbed green floor and I search again for the seabird.

The blare of light catches my eye again and I wonder what time it is, whether the shade is moving that way or this. The hat on my face is not doing its job at blocking it out, my eyes are distracted by its fluorescent flicker, so I shut them. Ah. Calm. I listen again to the gentle rhythm of whooshing waves, in, out, in, out…a calming sound that reassures me I am here.

Written by Emma611.

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