You rise from the horizontal on the sun-lounger and hold your unclasped bikini to your chest. Your skin glitters with oil. I can’t see the expression on your face behind sunglasses but I know you’re thinking of something to say, something to split the over-ripe quiet. I continue with my slow lengths of the swimming pool, pushing off from the ends, gliding underwater until I can’t hold my breath any longer.
You stand. “Wine?” We break long silences with drink.
You walk indoors still holding the bikini top to your chest. I look at the white lines over your shoulders, the lines you’ve been working on. I’ve rubbed on oil whilst you lay on your front and turned pages of a paperback. The crisping sun has stifled everything; the children in neighbouring villas, the cars passing on the dirt track to the beach, the breeze that ripples through the fig leaves and over the sapphire water. You’ve never exposed your breasts to me, except under the sheets, under me.
Last night I said, “I’ve never seen you naked out of bed.”
“Why would you want to?”
“Isn’t that what couples do?”
“Is it? I’ve never thought of us as a ‘couple’.”
I glide to the side of the pool with my face underwater, hold my breath, wait for you, observe my feet on the bottom of the pool. I imagine what it would be like to take in lungfuls of water, not to breath until my vision turns to black, to scream without sound. I spring up, gasping, rest my forearms on the scorching tiles, splash water out of the pool to cool the surface. Then you are there, holding a bottle and two glasses against your bare white breasts. A nipple is pressed like a mouth against the wineglass I’m about to drink from.
On my back, I push off and float towards the opposite side. When my outstretched fingers touch, I watch you sit and swing your legs into the water, then pour. I bob my head in and out. I can see the blurred outlines of your knees from under the surface. I push off again, glide and rise between them. You hand me a glass. I swivel, turn my back to you and look over to the orange grove on the other side of the rough concrete wall.
“Left it late for an all over tan.”
You don’t answer me. You rise to your feet and drop your bikini bottoms next to the bottle. You walk into my vision at the top of the pool and dive in. Your shape comes towards me and rises to my lips.
“There, happy now?” you say. You start pulling at my shorts. “Is this what couples do?”
I snatch away your hand and side-step back underwater. I swim to the pool ladder and climb out.
I watch you reach for your things and dress under cover of the water. I strip and wait in the shuttered darkness of the bedroom.