It was an otherwise unassuming summer day where the sun was bright, the sky a bright form of blue and the air so warm, there was little to do but find yourself a beach and sit yourself down.
It was early January, so people were flittering around, but a weekday; the spaces in the sand hinting to the fact many others had gone back to work.
I walked down to the beach closest to my house, towel in hand, book in other. It’s a calm, quiet stretch of beach that has a funny way of soothing the most frantic of minds.
I lay down and began reading. Within moments I had company.
“Hi,” he said. He had an inflatable lilo in hand and, such is the universal beach uniform for men, wore a pair of board shorts and not much else. “I am just going to sit here.”
It wasn’t a question. He would be sitting down ‘here‘.
‘Here’ was on the edge of my towel. He positioned himself on top of his desperately oversized lilo, which covered a corner of my towel.
I was annoyed, not least because a sand-infested lilo was staining the towel I only just shook clean, but because my time alone is not the kind of thing I appreciate being invaded.
I was impressed by how many different thoughts consumed my mind in the space of just a few seconds. Do I indulge him? Be polite? Tell him to f*ck off?
“Sorry, I’m actually just reading,” was the response I settled on.
He looked at me. There was no doubt he was taken aback. Perhaps every other time he sat his entitled arse down on someone’s towel, he had stumbled on a person much better, much more polite, than me.
“Wow, okay. Now, I am definitely just going to sit here for a bit.”
Like a boomerang, it was my turn to look a bit like a deer in headlights. I did little to hide how taken aback I really was.
I sat up, crossed my legs, turned my back to him and continued reading. He looked out to sea.
A flurry of thoughts shot through my mind. The two overriding ones were feelings of being totally exposed and others of pervading guilt.