This is a micro-sequel to my short story, Free Ride. It was written in response to a photo prompt from GS Wiley.
On the Beach
It’s a rare warm spell for this far North, which means the locals have all got their kit off and Aidan’s thinking longingly of the hoodie he left back in Mark’s car. Not that he’d put it on, of course. Not with all the teasing he gets already about being a soft Southern pansy just because he doesn’t think eighteen degrees is a bloody heatwave.
Mark’s wearing those effing daft swim shorts again, the ones that make his arse look like a pregnant bumblebee, and his girlfriend Connie’s looking sweet in a little red dress. She said she didn’t fancy parading herself in a bikini in front of all the dirty old men that the sunshine’s lured out of the pubs and onto the beach. They’re all lined up in deckchairs along what passes for a prom round here, bellies turning pink like the nasty little rash a mate of his picked up on a fortnight in Ibiza. Aidan grins to himself. He reckons the dress is more to do with the fact that she’s put on a bit of weight these past months and is feeling self-conscious. Not that she needs to; even Aidan can see she’s dead pretty.
It’s not their nearest beach, not by a long shot, but they came here because Connie wanted to see a hundred rusty old statues of some nutter who calls himself an artist. Antony Bloody Gormless, or at least, that’s what John said when he heard where they were going. They’re supposed to be casts of his naked body, but Aidan reckons the bloke embellished a bit around the prick. Well, it’s what he’d have done, any road. Bugger. Did he just think any road? Up here six months and he’s already starting to talk like a bloody native. John would piss himself if he heard that. Anyway, some of those statues are planted way down past the tide line and what the salt water’s done to the finer details would make a stronger man than Aidan wince.
Connie shivers a little – hah! – and Mark slips an arm around her shoulders. Aidan feels a sharp stab of jealousy. It’s times like this he misses John something chronic. But it’s a fact of life: you don’t cuddle your boyfriend in public round here unless you’re looking for a kicking. Fuck them though; him and John can get up to whatever they want to behind closed doors. And they bloody well do, and all. Aidan grins again, remembering this morning.
He reaches for his phone, to call John and tell him he wishes he was here, but then stops. John’d think that was wetter than a Bank Holiday in the Lakes. He’s got the accountant in for the day and he told Aidan to bugger off and enjoy himself, not sit there moping.
Right. Aidan stands up and walks over to his mates. “So are we going to swim in that, or just stare at it all day?”
Connie looks at him like he’s gone mad. “You got any idea how bloody cold the sea is round here?”
Mark laughs. “You saw what it did to the statues, right? That’ll be you, coming out of there.”
“Scared, are you?” Aidan taunts him, grinning.
“That a challenge? You’re on. I’ll not be beaten by some soft Southerner!”
Aidan flings his towel on the ground and sprints towards the water. “Last one in’s a rusty prick!”
“You’re daft, the pair of you!” Connie calls after them, laughing, as they run into the sea.