Stare long enough into our new Marble stationery collection, created by our super-talented, all-female, in-house team, and you may be transported to the passenger seat of an open top Cadillac, wind in your hair, radio on, heading down a desert road that leads straight to a town on the open ocean you’ll never want to leave...
I stood outside her front door, watching as she jumped in her car, rolled down the window and said to me, ‘so, are you coming or not?’ I had nothing with me except the clothes I was wearing and the threadbare tote bag that contained my notebook, pen and a few loose coins. I’d only come over to hang out for the afternoon. And, although she hadn’t said where we’d be going, I knew that we would be gone for longer than just the afternoon. I paused and let images of sun-flecked water rise through my mind and sweep me towards the car.
As the smooth, straight road catapulted us beyond the constricting borders of the city and out into an endless, jagged landscape of scorched earth, with towering cacti that appeared to question our presence in their world, I thought about how wrong I may have been. I turned to look at her. She looked at me, then back at the road, and pressed her foot hard on the accelerator.
She rocked up to her usual spot. Next to the tall, skinny palm tree that leaned to the south. The ocean, the backdrop to her performance, rolled low and metronomic waves towards her. She strapped on her skates and pushed her left leg out in one direction and her right leg out to the opposite, lowering her body until both legs were parallel to the ground. The waves stopped. She snapped her skates back towards her body, propelling herself up into the air and spinning 720 degrees. In perfect synchronicity, a cylinder of water, the same height as the palm tree, rose from the ocean and spun like a floating whirl-pool behind her. She landed softly on the wheels of her skates as the water fell like light rain on the surface of the ocean. A small child who was walking past stopped to look. Her mother pulled her onwards by the hand.
I could dive into the margaritas they serve at the Pink Motel. Dive in and just float there. Like in the Dead Sea. They serve their margaritas with a lot of salt there, that’s what I’m saying. Once, at one of the infamous parties they have, I did just that. I balanced on the rim of the glass, took in a deep breath and performed the most sensational dive you’ll ever see. So effortless and so high. At least that’s what I thought had done. Until someone pulled me out from the pool and lay me on a sun lounger to dry out.
They put down their walking sticks. Slowly, they remove their shoes and their socks and dig their feet into the hot sand. There’s many of them, all connected in a line the length of the beach. The shield their eyes against the sun with their hands but they like to keep them open, just a little. The white light that filters under their fingers creates a window through which they can see their teenage sweethearts, their wedding day, the births of their children, their grandchildren. They think about these things and what came after. They wonder what they’ll do differently this time around.
I don’t know what it’s actually called. We came across it when we were walking along the coastal path. We lost the track and ended up batting our way downhill through thick shrubbery, falling almost. And then it stopped. And under our feet was this rich red sand and in front of us was a glimmering blue sea. There was no one else. When we tried to work out where it was once we got back to the motel, we couldn’t find it on any maps. Cherry Bay was just the name we gave it. The two of us were alone there all afternoon. We made a paper boat, placed our hearts in it, side by side, and pushed it out into the ocean.
The waiter showed them to a table right in front of the stage. They asked to sit at another table at the back. The waiter said that this was a better table, the best, but they said they preferred the other one. They sat down just as the curtain opened. On stage, at the end of a shard of light, a woman appeared. Everyone on all the other tables clapped. Though they hadn’t known what she would looked like, they felt this was her. They’d found her. And at that moment, her gaze focused beyond the lights, into the obscurity of the back of the room, and she looked directly at them.
We left the others by the fire, and walked to the rocks at the far end of the beach. I don’t think anyone noticed we had gone. Maybe Jane. With each approaching step, the moon drew back the black stone to reveal a blue path. We climbed up without saying a word. At the top, was the small park that tourists took photos from during the day. Looking back along the beach, we could see shadows dancing in the orange glare. We laid ourselves down on the thick grass. It was soft and damp and it felt like our bodies would soak into the ground, and fall further and further through the earth. But they went the opposite way. We looked up at the stars, my fingers reached out to hers and we kept floating upwards, hand in hand, and we never stopped.