It was a night of firsts. First time his boat ever left the quayside - yet another cunning plan of Mister Oh-so-clever, property prices gone mad but I’m not, so why not a place on the marina for a fraction of the cost? It was the first time she ever ate a steak done sous-vide, pink, moist and juicy, temperature perfectly set by the waterbath so that even a humble self-professed wannabe cook such as him couldn’t muck it up.
It was the first time she ever hit a man around the head with a champagne bottle too.
Was he dead?
She thought he was dead. His blue eyes were open, glassy and bold in the moonlight. He was still warm. Was that normal?
She could not feel the beat of his heart inside his unbuttoned shirt.
She was alone at sea with a maybe corpse, trapped on his former boat as it chugged slowly further out into the Atlantic.
But not alone, never alone, Cal with her just when he needed him most.
Cal who told her he saw him put his hands around her throat. Cal who said he saw him squeeze.
She wanted it like that. She wanted the heat and the passion. She wanted the pain.
Cal who asked her then, that much pain?
And Cal lifted her chin to bring her face to look at his. Cal who touched her neck with the tips of his fingers and told her he could feel the marks.
In any time of need she was not without Cal. The first time she knew him when her father taught them both the meaning of the phrase “below the age of criminal responsibility”. She had wanted the Barbie, and she had wanted her Daddy to have the DVD boxset he coveted. She had not wanted to squeeze through the gap between the security pillar and the sliding doors, then walk in the dark down the alley where her Daddy waited.
It was Cal by her side that day, Cal grinning as he led the way.
Cal it was who stripped to his underwear right alongside her in that busy town centre, Cal leading the jump from bench to bench shouting he was Captain Underpants. And that time they took her Dad’s car to the drive thru, Cal right along with her telling her when to change up and change down and when to indicate.
And now he was here, Cal who whispered that the guy had slipped. Cal who told her that the guy had been drinking, he had been showing off and he had slipped and then hit his head and then staggered. And what was the point of these silly little low wire railings? Barely came above the knees they did, and if they didn’t pitch a falling man over the side, look how much gap was underneath and how skinny this man who put his hands around her neck.