The sun came out properly today. September is usually spectacular on the North Coast – Chris Hemsworth marching about near-naked certainly does the climate no harm – but this September was mean and dark and cool. And then, this light, and the air was suddenly warm.
I had about sixteen thousand pressing things to do today, but the light called me forth.
“Put on your boardies, dude,” I told Bethesda. “We’re hitting the beach!”
This beach, you understand, is a whole three minute stroll up the road, very hard yakka indeed. As a result of these exertions, I fell asleep at Flat Rock as Bethesda scoured the rockpools with her old ballet school friend, Summer (not just an actual person, but one with iridescent dreams). Awakening with a start, I watched hundreds of Caspian Terns wheel and screech in the sky. The distance was a thing of yachts and dolphins. I wanted to resume snoozing, but was also vaguely worried that Bethesda would be swept off to sea by a freak wave, or that she would slip and hit her head on a rock, whereupon she would be swept, unconscious, off to sea by a freak wave.
Sometimes I remember passing entire days during which I failed to entertain a single terrifying thought of Bethesda swallowing broken glass (which she once almost did) or falling into the gap between a train and the station platform (which she once actually did), but that was only because she had yet to be born. Now I’m lucky if I can get through an hour without worrying that she’ll catch pneumonia because she’s not wearing a cardigan, or that she’ll contract meningitis from a bubbler. I even carry a snake bite kit in my beach bag, although I don’t know why.
It’s a twenty-first century fetish, perhaps, to ward off the Australian Evil Eye. Great Whites, Eastern Browns, Lionfish. Fishermen in particular know all about this kind of thing.
My take on Hot Dog Legs. I think one is supposed to be oiled, wearing a Brazilian bikini and have an infinity pool in the background, but this will have to do for now.
“Why can’t I wear a bikini?” Bethesda asked today. “All the other girls wear bikinis, but I just look like a nerd. Only boys wear board shorts and rashies. And I have to wear a hat!”
“I’ve never seen a boy in a pink rashie,” I mused.
“Not pink, but still.”
I closed my eyes. “All the surfer girls wear rashies. I wear a rashie. As you can see, I’m wearing a rashie right now. At the age of twenty, do you want to look like the kind of old man’s shoe you find at the bottom of a Salvation Army Shop discount bin?”
Bethesda was silent for a time.
“I guess not,” she said.
She sullenly stared the horizon. “Can I wear a bikini at fifteen?”
“Sixteen,” I said. “And only in England, where there’s hardly any light at all.”