19 May, 2012

The last thing I posted was an early version of a short story I had written for genre class. It was written as a romance story which was one of the genres I tried out. I am very found of this story and think it’s one of the better things I wrote for university. Let’s hope you enjoy it.

Oil Spill

’Cunt!’ she shouted at the wind while failing to light her cigarette for the fourth time.

She always thought that hand rolled ones tasted better than your usual Marlborough, which led her to situations like this; cigarette but no fire. She was standing on cliffs that looked down at a rocky beach in northern Scotland. The ocean was wild up here and she was very fond of gazing at the waves as the broke out on the bay. She had no idea why she gone there on this particular day as it was windy as hell and the beach was covered in oil. A Russian oil tank had leaked a few days earlier and the black oil covered the rocks like a dark mucous membrane. She watched the poor sods cleaning up the mess the tank had left. The black thick oil and the bright red jackets of the men and women working down there was the only thing that broke off the complete grayness of the scene. The sharp scent of salt and rich oil filled her nostrils and the seagulls shouted in her ears. The sky melted into the ocean as the clouds rolled in over the landscape.

She had felt a similar grayness inside herself the latest couple of months, as if the clouds of her youth had rolled into her rib cage. The colour in her now was white though, coming back brought a sense of clarity to her. It had been years since she last stood on this beach. Those memories seemed like another life. It was summer then. It was spring now. She has lost the round cheeks and the soft eyelashes she saw reflected in the water that windy July. Her face was sharper now with those famous cheekbones as her top act. Her purple lipstick gave her face a nice last detail. Gray matched with plum. She was much happier with herself now, like it had taken a few years to grow into her own body. Her skin fitted her corners and edges. She liked her sharpness.

She also liked the look of the man working furthest out on the beach. His face was hidden but she saw an attempt for a beard and black cap. He had chinos and boots. Most of all he had a certain way of holding himself when moving along the shore, a walking conflict between self assurance and insecurity. He was young of course. She studied him and for a split second he might have looked back at her but she wasn’t sure. There was something there, warmth which didn’t exist in the harsh wind. Her cigarette still refused to be lit in the wind. She swore yet again when her dirt blond hair flew into her face. She turned around to walk back to the village five minutes down the road.

The high street was empty except the local drunk which happened to be her uncle. He shouted something at her but there was no chance of hearing what he said. She opened the door to the local pub and sat herself down with a pint at the big table in the back. Everyone stared as they had done every time she had visited the pub in the past week. The reason this afternoon was that she passed the projector on her way in and made some people miss a few frames of the Sunday French which was the local film club’s recent project. It was usually a couple of old men watching American westerns but Sunday French had proven popular with the women of the village on that particular day. They all wanted to see Jean Gabin. The 30’s was the theme that afternoon and certain ladies got very upset by missing just a second of his French frown.

‘So how is it being back then Vera?’ It was the local stud who asked. They had gone to the same primary school sometime the previous millennium.

‘Oh fine thank you dearest. I feel so welcome,’ she answered sarcastically.

He didn’t reply to her and just returned to his drink and the quite intense scene happening on the projector. Gabin was going very fast down some train tracks, an old lady hissed with excitement. Vera giggled quietly at the scene. She couldn’t stop thinking about the young chino man down the beach. She wanted to go back there and maybe make her way down to them to talk to him but she couldn’t bring herself to go out in the cold wind.

Luckily, the cold wind did bring the chino man into the pub as he and the rest of the voluntary oil sanitarians came in to warm themselves up. He was taller than she thought he’d be. His beard was a bit pathetic but at least his mustache almost covered his thin, now almost blue, shaking lips. Vera couldn’t stop looking at him. She moved from looking at his dark brown hair which now was wet from the ocean to the rest of his long neck an angular body. Freckles covered his cheeks and washed over his skin as if someone had blown an overgrown dandelion all over him. She switched his name from chino boy to dandelion boy. He had not seen her gaze. He was just standing with his colleagues at the bar and told a guy in the group what he wanted to drink. His job was to find a table. Vera moved to a smaller table to make the large one available for his company. When she stood up with her drink he saw her. He looked at her as if he recognized her, trying to place her in his mind, then realizing and flushing a bit.

‘You can have this table if you want,’ she said smiling at him.

‘That’s very kind of you. Cheers,’ he said returning her smile curiously.

Vera sat down at the small table next to him and she could smell the sea air and salt when he passed her to sit down. She saw the goose bumps teaming up with the freckles on his neck.

‘Or how about me joining you lot? I know all about oil spills and Jean Gabin,’ she suggested while leaning towards him.

‘We’d love to,’ He said while looking up from underneath his black cap.

When the rest of the group came back to the table with drinks in their hands the dandelion man made an attempt to introduce her to the others. It didn’t go that well.

‘Everyone, this is…ehm,’

‘I’m Vera,’ she said while reaching out her hand to everyone, shaking them while smiling like a professional. ‘I offered my large table as you seems to need it better. I Then sort of invited myself.’

‘Of course you should sit with us. The more the merrier!’ said a woman who presented herself as Sue.

‘I’m Elias by the way,’ said the dandelion man.

Vera, Elias and the rest of the rest of the red jacketed sanitarians ordered in food and more drink as the minutes ran passed. When Vera explained how she had seen them working on the beach they told her how they all had seen her. Her dirt blond hair and long black coat had stood out against the gray skies as much as their jackets. They had thought that she could have been an artist or a writer. That she was someone looking for inspiration.

‘What writer would be that stupid?’ she said and they all laughed. ‘Especially as this particular idiot is from around here.’

When hearing that she was Scottish herself she was forced to tell them her family name. They immediately started to recite the well-known stories about her uncle’s tricks and injuries. Everyone was very happy to be able to get updates on those faded scars. The howl of the wind mixed well with the warm laughter bouncing off the walls in the pub. Elias just smiled weakly during the conversation. It wasn’t until they saw the yellow shirt flying passed the window he fully joined in with the laughter. A woman ran after it and Elias only had to take two large strides to be out the door to help her catch the fugitive. He ran after the shirt as if it was the only bus home and caught it before the woman had the chance to register that he was there. The whole pub followed the drama. When Elias returned his pale skin was all flushed from the run. Sue couldn’t stop laughing.

Vera wanted to come closer and know more about this man that she suddenly felt so drawn to. Why she found herself in the situation she didn’t know. It annoyed her a bit. What was it about this young man that made her heart spin? Was it the way he laughed at her jokes? Was it the way he wanted to learn how to roll his own cigarettes? The way he listened carefully to every word she said about the hidden secrets of tobacco? She managed to figure out that he wasn’t from this particular village but the neighboring one, a few miles down the coast. He was Sue’s little brother. He had just came back home after spending time in Iceland for a doctorate in Geology. He was, like her, coming back home to breathe.

Gabin was still being dapper on screen. He had moved on to being handsome in a harbor in a new film. The old ladies had mostly gone home though and were now exchanged for a slightly younger fanbase. One could also see that time had passed by how many hand rolled cigarettes were lying in front of them on the table. It was getting late as the sun was barely above the horizon any longer. The group was ready to leave. Vera didn’t want the afternoon to end and dragged out putting on her coat and paying for the last pints out for as long as she possibly could. It was pure luck when Elias realised he had lost something. He couldn’t find his jumper. It had to still be down at the beach. Everyone except Vera advised him to leave it, that they could come back for it tomorrow. It could always start raining though and it wouldn’t be a pleasant thing to find your woolly jumper all wet by rain and sea water. Vera knew how to argue for her cause. She saw her opportunity to get him for herself and offered to join him to go back for his jumper. When Sue and the others walked deeper into the village the two of them turned back towards the ocean.

The last splinter of sun was going down in west and the temperature had dropped. They walked quickly to keep warm. The pebbled road took them across the grassy moor coming down to the beach. The closer they came to the sea the more of seaweed it smelled. They kept talking about everything between heaven and earth as they walked. Vera asked him about his studies and he made her tell stories from her time away from these shores. Gabin came up as a constant joke as they realised that they left before they had the chance to see one of Vera’s favorite films.

When they reached the beach the jumper was laying there waiting for them like a white beacon upon the rocks. Elias grabbed his jumper and was just about to turn around to go back as Vera held up one of the many cigarettes they had rolled earlier. She suggested that Elias should join her for a smoke before going back to the village. They had to try out their craftsmanship like chefs needed to taste everything that came out of their kitchen. They sat down on the rocky beach and looked once again on that beautiful Atlantic Ocean. The whole beach still smelled of chemicals and oil. Then she brought up the subject of Jean Gabin yet again.

‘So what do you think will happen to him then?’ she asked while trying to keep warm by rubbing her hands together. ‘Will he manage to escape?’

‘I don’t know.’ Elias said while clearly shaking. A moment passed before he spoke again. ‘You spoke about a scene which was your favorite. Which one was that?’

Vera felt that she had to be strategic and planned her moves as if she was a general during the Great War. Her cigarette went out. Elias saw it and held up his lighter for her. She leaned in and looked him straight in the eyes as the tobacco started glowing again.

‘It is this scene when they go to an amusement park together. I think it’s just after he has beaten up the guy who fancies Morgan, that rough dude. Let me reenact it for you.’

‘Okay’ Elias said and smiled while Vera rose up and crouched right in front of him with a fag in one hand while using the other to illustrate the scene she was telling him about.

‘They are really close right. They have hidden away behind some wagons at the fair.’ She said while slowly leaning closer to him, taking the role of Jean Gabin in this particular scene.

‘What happens then?’ Elias teased as Vera took one last drag of her cigarette.

‘She asks him to kiss her.’

Vera then kissed Elias like Jean Gabin kissed Michèle Morgan in a film made long before either of them were born. Elias’ lips was at first completely still as being paralyzed of the touch of Vera’s skin. After a second that could have lasted a lifetime he woke up and kissed her back with a force that only young men with pathetic beards think they can master. They kissed for quite a while, just letting their hands move across each other’s bodies in the cold. Elias then broke off to say something.

‘They live happily ever after then, in the film?’

‘Oh no. He gets shot at the end of course. They always do,’ Vera said happily before she kissed him again.


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