• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 08
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Surrounded by People

Surrounded by people, I sit here alone, hiding in plain sight, hat pulled down as a barrier against the blazing sun. I can feel the heat seeping down to my bones. It feels wonderful. I haven't felt this warm in ages. I haven't bothered with the lotion, I’m still wearing your jumper. The waiter brings my drink over — you know, the one you introduced me to. I take a deep breath and make a silent toast to us.
There's not a cloud in the sky and the beach is filling up quickly. No one looks in my direction. I haven't spoken more than a couple of words to anyone in days. I've become a bystander, watching other people's lives unfold. From the terrace, listening to the myriad of overlapping conversations, I try to work out how many languages I can hear, but you were always so much better at it than me.
There's a young couple canoodling in the shade of an umbrella; I’m reminded of our honeymoon all those years ago. I watch a family laying their towels across the smooth, white sand. They’d better weigh them down, the breeze nearly took your hat. An older couple wander into view. They walk hand in hand towards the clear blue water. I watch them dip their feet in the rippling waves.
A pang of jealousy hits me, tinged with anger. I always thought we'd be like that, you and I. Together forever, that's what you said. But how were we to know what was eating away inside you. You made me promise to go on with my life, not to mourn your passing, but you've left me alone, surrounded by people.