An introduction

by Russ

‘Take a picture, it’ll last longer!’

It was one of those phrases people repeat verbatim because they think it sounds sassy, and it grated on Simon every time he heard it. This time was worse because it was applied perfectly, and he deserved it. He offered a weak smile of apology and averted his gaze

His stomach was still fizzing from the shame of being caught when a shadow pivoted across him, giving shade from the thousand watt sun and sending the rest of the world into a bleached glare.

‘Seriously, mate,’ the voice didn’t sound like it was addressing a mate. ‘You can’t just go leering at women on the beach, especially when they’re having a nap!’

It was the sleeping angel Simon had absent mindedly let his sight fall on, only now she was more of a waking demon, sending plumes of sulphur from her nose as she huffed indignation. He hadn’t meant to stare, he just hadn’t been paying attention. That defence sounded weak even in his own head, so instead he looked down and gestured vaguely.

The privacy invaded sun-bather allowed her eyes to be guided down Simon’s body, landing on the sand-clogged plaster-cast which covered his left leg from ankle to upper-thigh providing a protective exoskeleton for the broken bone within.

‘You sayin’ being clumsy makes it okay for you to be a pervert?’

Simon grappled for any sort of answer, seeing a line of teeth cut through the shadows of his prosecutor’s face as he did. At first he flinched, fearing an attack, before the shard of white grew into something rounder, a smile.

‘What did you do then, dick ‘ed?’ the assailant laughed.

The change of tone disorientated Simon.

‘Mis-judged a curb…’ the invalid shrugged, prompting a snort of laughter, sulphur now replaced with something lighter. Next thing he knew, the body infront of him twisted and tumbled, making a controlled landing beside him, close enough that his one uncased leg was now overlaid slightly by the spread knee of his companion, a muted thwump as bum compacted sand.

‘That’s a shit story,’ the sudden conspirator said, matter-of-factly, leaning across with an elbow while simultaneously unlocking the phone cradled between two hands, and beginning to scroll through photographs. After a dozen graceful flicks, the searcher settled on an image, turned the screen to landscape, and slid up the brightness.

The picture snapped Simon’s attention into focus with disbelief. A creased and cracked car rested against a burning tree; a trio of sheep worried in the opposite corner; a woman, this woman, sat in the foreground, one hand doing a poor job of trying to stem blood-flow from a head-wound, the other cradling what… looked like a duck.

‘This... is a story,’ the woman declared.

Simon’s jaw hung open as he absorbed the screen.

The woman nudged him in the ribs, and laughed.

‘My name’s Fi,’ she took one hand from the phone and offered it to Simon. ‘What do they call you, pervert?’