The Beach:

by | Oct 25, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

There’s a large cemetery for both British and German soldiers.

“I’m going to the beach today,” ‘Nia said, her eyes gleaming with excitement.

“That’s nice.” I tried not to let the tide of her enthusiasm engulf me. I was already in awe of her presence. One more wave and I’d drown. “Where are you going?” I attempted indifference.

“The North. Mediterranean. We call it the White Sea, as opposed to the Red one.” She giggled at the last comment, her face lighting up. My heart was racing in the company of this enigma and I tried desperately to downplay my reaction.

“Wait! What? How far is that from Ma’adi?” I quizzed my beautiful companion.

“Around four hour’s drive,” she replied, matter of factly.

“Four hours? That’s the whole length of England!” I exclaimed, slapping my hand on my damp forehead. It was now thirty six degrees at ten a.m. Her face opened up like a coral on the Barrier Reef.

“Really? So everyone lives near the sea?” She was a hybrid of puzzlement and amusement at my statement.

“Yes, everyone lives less than one hour’s drive from the sea.” Such abstract conversations were my favourite part of our fledgling friendship. All senses were heightened by a simple exchange of words.

“That’s incredible! How many seas do you have? I mean, bodies of water?” She looked genuinely pensive, leaning forward to await my reply. I proceeded to list the seas that surround the British Isles.

“North Sea, English Channel, Irish Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and I think it’s called the Icelandic Sea,” I said, counting on my fingers.

“Wow! That’s a lot of seas!” She declared. There was no doubt, she was beautiful, whatever expression she wore.

“Well, we are an island.” I couldn’t contain my mirth and my laughter attracted the attention of other diners on the sunny terrace. Her face closed into a momentary frown, before bouncing back to its original countenance.

“Very funny,” ‘Nia clipped, feigning annoyance. I’d experienced the four seasons of her deportment in a matter of minutes. I swiftly changed the subject, dodging one of her death stares.

“What’s it called, this distant resort?” I inquired. She paused for a few seconds, as if to indicate I wasn’t off the hook.

“Alamein,” she snapped, maintaining her accusatory glare.

“I know it! The place of the battle,” I declared. This was too much. Like a rich, tasty meal.

“Yes. You know it?” She replied, shuffling excitedly in her chair. Summer returned, her enthusiasm matching the weather. Her thick, black hair danced around her face.

“Of course. I’m English, remember? We beat the Germans there. There’s a large cemetery for both British and German soldiers.” I immediately regretted my reply. The British in Egypt was like treading on eggshells in her world.

“Yes, sixty years you hung around here, like a bad smell. What’s more, you stole our national treasures.” We jumped from summer to winter as she threw me an icy stare. We’d visited this subject many times and although the conversation became almost adversarial, it seemed to cement something between us. I always gave in, eventually, to her perfectly reasonable point of view, which threw her somewhat.

“I know, I’m ashamed of what we did in this region,” I conceded and her face softened again.

“Look, I know it’s not your fault. Sometimes it just gets me down.” A sad, wistful look crossed her exquisite features. I attempted to pull her back with an injection of humour.

“Anyway, if we hadn’t kicked Rommel out you’d all be speaking German now.” I closed my eyes, this could go either way. As I opened them, a wide smile greeted me.

“Haha! You mean they’d be speaking Arabic!” It was her turn to receive the attention of our onlookers.

I placed my head in my hands and groaned but inwardly, my heart was dancing. What a perfect start to the day.

“Forgive me, can I get you a coffee or something?” I’d completely forgotten my manners.

“No, I have to go. My car is waiting. I’ll see you in a few days.” With that, she handed me a folded piece of paper. “This is your itinerary. Everything is on there, places, people, phone numbers. I shall be testing you on my return.” She got up, turned and marched off, leaving a vacuum that sucked the air out of my lungs.

As the blood seemed to drain from my entire body, I unfolded the paper. There in her spidery English writing was a complete list of places to visit, accompanied, as she’d described, by detailed instructions. I looked up at the empty door of the café. The absence of her form turned it into a desert landscape.

I read the first line. The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

Turning the sheet over, I read the last line. I love you…’Nia x

1 Comment

  1. Ken Childs

    Beautifully Descriptive


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