Friday 8 December 2017

Footwork by Mary Bevan

Mary is a former lecturer who is having a great time using retirement to write as she always promised herself she would. Concentrating on flash fiction and short stories, she has won prizes in competitions including Flash 500, Tethered by Letters and Writers’ Bureau, and has been published in Momaya Review, Best of Café Lit, South, This Little World: Anthology of Dorset Writers and 1000 Words of Less (Australia).

Just his luck – no one here to have a drink with. Alesandro gazed resentfully at the scruffy terrace with its cracked paving stones and bleached-out sun umbrellas. Beyond it, in the distance, lay the beach and a sparkling expanse of sea, mocking him with its invitation to pleasure. A precious day off work, and here he was with a knee so painful that he had hardly been able to hobble as far as this shabby little café-bar.
In any case, he thought bitterly, if he could have made it to the beach he would only have had to pretend to laugh at the men’s crude jokes about his borrowed crutch, or, worse still, see the pity and disdain in the eyes of the girls who taunted him with their glistening, brown bodies.
So he had spent the morning in bed, dozing until the heat in the cramped bedroom he shared with the commis-chef – newly-arrived at the Hotel Villarosa but already ridiculously popular with everyone – had become unbearable. Then he had made his way down here, slowly and painfully, to cheer himself up with a few drinks and perhaps some interesting conversation.
It was still relatively early in the season; the barman was watching a football match on a the flickering television screen, and the terrace was empty except for a couple perched on stools at a small counter in the far corner. They were deep in conversation and hardly glanced at him as he limped to a table at a suitable distance from them.
Sipping the first of what he promised himself would be a fair few drinks – after all, what else was there to do – Alesandro studied the couple. The girl, tanned and shapely, was sitting with her back to him, her curtain of black, glossy hair blocking his view of her companion so that most of the time all he could see of him was a pair of long brown arms and slender hands like those of a piano player with which he gestured frequently. His girlfriend, as Alesandro took her to be, was wearing a tight-fitting white sheath with a single stripe of gold, sparkling material meandering from the shoulder line all the way down the dress on one side. There was something mesmerising about the way the sun played on that stripe, emphasising its zig-zag motion so that it seemed like a golden snake with a sinuous life of its own.
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