Tuesday, 2 March 2010

87. On shifting sands

John and Julie are walking arm-in-arm along a cold English beach in spring.

They come across a curious thing. In the sand, in letters six feet long, is written, “I love Julie.”

Happiness swells up through Julie’s face and bursts into a smile, like someone blowing bubble gum.

“Did you write that?” she asks.

“Yes,” John lies.

“You are so sweet,” she says and grips his arm tighter.

Julie and John walk on. They happen upon a trail of pristine white shells, laid out in a perfect line across the sand. They follow it together and soon it begins to curve and wind its way across the beach in ever more complex knots and tighter spiral. They feel like they are becoming together enmeshed in a labyrinth. Then they see that the trail of shells has spelled out, “I ♥ Julie.” John and Julie are standing together at the centre of the maze in the middle of the heart. Julie’s smile is like an excited round of applause.

“Was this you, too?” she asks.

“Um, yes,” he lies. “Yes it was.”

“You are so amazing,” she says.

John and Julie walk to the end of the beach. Near the water’s edge, someone has scratched something in the wet sand. It reads, “Julie fucks like a train.”

John definitely didn’t write that.

“I think we should talk,” he says.

“Yes,” she agrees.

At the end of beach, near the storm barriers, unread, lies written in the sand, “John 4 Julie 4 ever.” John did write that. The sea starts to wash it away.

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