I came here with a body full of poison and hair loose in its sockets. The thrill of standing by the harbour is something else. Better than Disneyland, you say. Of course, I reply, of course.
Gulls screech like newborn babes and the air has a taste to it like sweat, like tears, like life at its gritty best. And we say yes: to ice cream with sprinkles and sky-blue candyfloss; to hours of digging holes in the sand and skipping over the waves, our skin staying just the right side of pink, our lungs stinging, singing with the salt; to crabbing beside the harbour wall; to feeding our two penny pieces into the metal-guzzling machines at the arcade, watching the forwards and backwards until they’re all gone.
By the caravan with the genuine Romany inside, I wonder if, with one look, she’ll avert her eyes, knowing my fate.
We climb the steps and I’m breathless but I don’t make a fuss because today is an illusion and it matters, more than anything, to be normal.
A stranger takes a photograph of us in the picture-postcard cemetery, its tombstones rakish as ageing teeth. Our faces beam with the relief of the fearful. For now, we are saying, this is okay, this can be done. And though the wind whips my hair into tangled knots and my scalp tingles with the losses to come and my life is too short to count, we are something like happy, and that is enough.
Emily Devane is a writer and teacher from Yorkshire, U.K. Her stories have won prizes, including the Bath Flash Fiction Prize, and have been widely published. Emily was a Word Factory apprentice and a Northern Writer’s Award winner. She is an editor at Saboteur-nominated online journal FlashBack Fiction.