1979 (the unknown caller)


The landscape was magnificent. Picture perfect. At a distance, the expanse of the sea dissolved into the brilliantly blue sky, where the thick, almost unnaturally white clouds lodged to the east of the Seaside beach.

Seagulls chirped and pranced about the Floridian shoreline. A gentle breeze brushed, complementing the unrelenting heatwave which leaked from the blazing sun.

Bodies permeated the landscape; children played in the sand as parents stretched out on deckchairs, teenagers smoked pot and swam in the sea, seniors strolled with a keen gape on architecture, couples sat at open-bars, drinking wine and soaking in sunshine.

Roy spotted her alone from afar, and couldn’t seem to withdraw his gawk.
She’s the coolest-looking girl I’ve ever set my eyes on, he thought. I’ve gotta say something. I just have to. And so he made his way over to her. She was basking beneath the rays of the sun while a Marlboro Light burned between her lips.

“Hey there,” he chanced. She looked up to him through her sunglasses before sitting upright and hugging her knees.
“What’s up?” An affable tone clung to this utterance of hers.

Roy half-consciously seized an overview of her for some moments without forming a response. Neon-orange swimwear. Dark walnut-brown hair hanging untied passed her shoulder blades. Long, shapely legs with a lustrous polish. Gentle face. Rose cheeks. Fair, smooth-looking skin. Roy figured she must be Egyptian or something of the sort. An amiable aura poured from her straight away.

“Well?” she said, hauling him back to reality. He excused himself sheepishly, then, crouching beside her, said,
“I don’t mean to bother you or anything, but I -uh… I saw you from over there and noticed you’re alone. Like myself.”
She said nothing to this, instead just coolly blew smoke towards the sky.

He continued: “I know you have no idea who I am, but I just thought that… Maybe you’d wanna, you know, talk for a little while. Perhaps.”
All the while his left hand reflexively traced indecipherable characters and shapes into the sand.

“Talk?” she responded with a small laugh. “About what exactly?”
“Anything. You know, like jus’ chit-chat.”
The girl turned to the side with the same vague laughter and shrugged her shoulders. “Let’s talk.”

A smiled stretched across Roy’s face. He became fond of her gestures instantly. Her dark hair and eyes contrasted almost artistically with her pale complexion. The light bags at the corner of her eyes gave them more character and her face a distinct mien – something that very bizarrely charmed Roy all the same.

She was without a doubt very pretty. Gorgeous, in fact. Though some might say she didn’t possess the conventional Western front-page-supermodel-type looks, Roy observed a rarer form of attraction.
She had a handsome set of teeth behind a bold smile. The curves of her smile reshaped her entire facial structure tastefully. And when she didn’t smile, the cool expression which daubed her face enamoured Roy in a peculiar manner that he couldn’t begin to tell.  At that moment, he genuinely wanted nothing more than to just talk to her, and explore more dimensions of her allure.

“You from around here?” he began. Still crouched beside her.
Ashing her cigarette, she said, “No, actually. I’m visiting from France.”
“France? That’s pretty cool. I’ve been to Bordeaux, and Paris twice, a long while ago though.” Roy said.

“Bordeaux’s nice. Paris… I lived there long enough to see the not-so-nice side of Paris.”

Roy nodded with a smile. “For sure, Bordeaux is still at the top of my list for my Europe travels.”

“What about you?” She said. “Do you live here in Florida?”

“No, I’m also visiting. I stay in London.”

They continued to share a loose dialogue for a little longer. Generally unremarkable themes of conversation: she told him she was 19, that she was a Graphic Design student. She liked film, architecture, fashion, holidays and captivating sceneries, “And cigarettes,” she was sure to add.

5 or so minutes passed and the stamina of the conversation dropped a few paces.
“D’you wanna grab a beer or something? It’s on me.” Roy said.

She scanned her surroundings briefly, then looked back to him with a half smile. “Sure. Why not?” She clasped her belongings – an original NY Yankees baseball button-up, a smallish pouch and the towel she was laid on.

“That bar over there?” she gestured with a slight head movement. With one hand shading his eyes from the sun, he peered over to the open-bar and nodded. “Yup.”

“I’ll race you.”

Surprisingly (or maybe not), she beat him. Once they reached the open-bar, he ordered two pints of Budweiser. They placed themselves on a nearby bench, clinked beverages and resumed their conversation. The topics progressively stretched to aspirations, philosophical and political stances, pet peeves, musical preferences, travels, and French wines.