You paddle across the yellow sand with your brother-in-law, Jack, who is carrying a huge banana-coloured parasol over you to keep the bright sun from your black-haired head.
Your twin sister, Jean, walks a few metres away carrying her own parasol, lifting the hem of her lemon-coloured dress in case the incoming tide should dampen it. Your dress is the same colour and style as hers. Your mother always dressed you the same when you were young girls, and now that you are young women, you still dress in similar colours and styles, even without your mother's insistence or advice.
Jack stands watching you as if you were a child in whose care you had been placed. The blue sea is some way off, but still you lift your dress's hem to copy Jean. Jack smiles to himself and moves to one side as you push your bare toes into the sand and then lift them carrying damp grains of sand on your foot. Kicking the sand off your foot, you turn and unfold your arms in preparation for some new dance that is being prepared in your mind.
Jean turns and watches you, holding her parasol behind her head. She studies your unfolding arms, the preparation of your feet as they raise themselves up and down as if any moment they will leap into some new ballet conceived in your head.
"I think, Beryl is about to dance, Jack," says Jean twirling her parasol behind her head.
"Let us see you dance, Beryl," says Jack moving the parasol away from your head and standing a few paces to one side of you.
"Me, dance," you say, bringing your hands together so that your palms press against each other as if you were about to pray. "Sun watch me dance, too?" You lift your face to the sky and let the sunshine warm you.
"Yes, the sun will watch," Jean says. She looks over at her husband and winks at him. Jack stands passive in his cream coloured shirt and white hat and releases a smile at his wife.
You open your hands, lift them to the sky and spread your arms wide as if you were a bird about to take flight. Suddenly, you leap forward and your legs move in steps so swift and light that it appears as if you were actually flying across the sands. Your arms move in company with the motion of your legs, your head held at a slight tilt, your face raised to the bright sun.
Jean stares at you as you move across the sands; she stares at the swift movement, the inventiveness of the dance. As she stares, she imagines for a moment that it is she who is dancing, that she is watching herself in some hidden mirror. Nevertheless, she knows she could never dance like this, could never move with such swiftness and grace as you do.
Jack gazes at you with a mixture of admiration and sadness. You, his sister-in-law, who has the grace and charm of a flamingo in movement, have the mind of a bewildered child. His eyes gaze at the dance you perform, gaze at the speed and smoothness of your motion across the sand.
"If I could have filmed this it would still be unbelieved that anyone could move and dance like this and still be human," Jean says holding her parasol by her side.
"I can't believe what I'm actually seeing," says Jack. "Has she always danced like this?"
"Never like this. She was always good, but this is unworldly," Jean exclaims with excitement.
They continue to watch, as if what they were witnessing was some kind of once-in-a-lifetime event. A miracle of movement. A mirage of motion. The parasols twirl in time to your pace and movement, their rotation like spinning suns in a bright coloured universe.
"I dance!" you exclaim loudly, "I dance for the sun!"
"Indeed you do, Beryl," Jean says. "Indeed you do. Indeed you
The huge dining room of the hotel is full of people; their voices fill the air like a hellish babble from Dante's Inferno. You sit with Jean and Jack at a table occupied also by Mr and Mrs Gnooty. They are a middle-aged couple who had introduced themselves the previous day as George and Glenda. They sit opposite you, their eyes moving from you to Jean as if they were trying to solve some mystery that up until then had eluded them.
"So, you are twins," George says. "Never seen two women so much the same. And you, Jack, you are their brother?" George ventures to ask, allowing his eyes to leave you and Jean and focus on Jack.
"No, Jean's my wife," Jack says. "And Beryl's my sister-in-law."
"Have you been married long?" Glenda asks wiping her mouth with a napkin.
"Last Saturday," Jean informs. "This is our honeymoon."
"And you brought your sister with you?" George says with an expression of surprise.
"She married to Jack!" you exclaim beaming with a child-like smile.
Glenda stares at you, holding her napkin a few inches from her mouth. George lets his eyes go from Jack to you in a split second as if suddenly you had abused his wife.
"She's in my care," Jean says moving forward slightly so that she is a few inches from George's dumb expression.
"What is wrong with her?" Glenda asks placing the napkin on the table with certain gentility. "Is she ill?"
"No," Jean replies, "not ill as such, but she is recovering from a sort of illness." She leaves it at that and moves back in her chair away from George's frown.
"Not sure I'd like to have brought my sister on our honeymoon," George says to his wife. "Well or unwell." Glenda gazes at you as if you were about to speak again, as if she had to prepare herself for it like some trial.
You smile warmly and then look at two of your fingers as they dance across the tablecloth like the nimble legs of fairies. Your eyes enlarge with excitement, your lips open and utter "Barbarbar-barbar-bar" in a tuneful melody.
The Gnooty couple sits transfixed, their eyes following your fingers as they dance across the white tablecloth. George's mouth gapes revealing his false teeth slightly stained; Glenda's mouth is closed, her lips sealed like a miser's purse.
Jean taps your hand gently. "Not at the dining-table, Beryl," she utters softly.
"I dance like that, too!" you inform the Gnootys.
"Yes," says Jack," Beryl can dance marvellously."
"Marvellously, marvellously!" you exclaim nodding your head.
"Professionally?" George asks.
"She was until her illness," Jean informs.
George nods and smiles. Glenda stares at you as if unconvinced by such a claim. She studies your still fingers, lets her brown eyes move up your arm until they settle on your face.
"What kind of dancing?" asks Glenda after a few minutes.
"Ballet," Jean says. "Although she can perform any dance genre."
The Gnootys sit and stare in an uneasy silence for a few minutes each asking themselves questions internally, and wanting to say something but unsure quite what to say and how to say it, without giving offence.
"Saw a ballet years ago," George says.
"Sleeping Beauty," says Glenda.
"I thought it was The Nutcracker?" George says.
Glenda affirms Sleeping Beauty and George concedes reluctantly.
"Said grace once before a thousand people and they said Amen loudly!" you say suddenly.
George sits back in is chair and rubs his chin. Glenda sits upright as if she'd been thumped in the back. "Interesting!" exclaims George. Glenda nods her agreement.
"Beryl," Jean says. "What do you want to order from the menu?" And she shows you the menu card.
Your eyes stare at the words but they are incomprehensible to you.
"She's forgotten her Italian," Jack says.
"Well," says Jean," best let me tell you what is on offer."
The Gnootys order after you have all made your choice. There is a period of silence. There is an exchange of looks and smiles; a gazing at hands and fingernails, a number of glances about the huge room in hope that someone famous may be present. Thoughts are thought, but not expressed. Eyes stare and look away carrying with them some photogenic image to file for a later date. Then suddenly you stand up and a hush falls across the huge room.
"I danced for the sun!" you exclaim. "I danced for the sun!"
"Indeed you did," Jean says. "Indeed you did, Beryl."
"And such a dance it was," says Jack. "Such a dance. Such a
You sit in your hotel room where your sister has left you for the afternoon siesta. The chair you sit in is facing the balcony with the windows open wide letting in a cool air and the far away sounds of human voices from the beach. Jean has told you to remain there until she comes for you later in the day when the siesta is over. You had reclined on the bed, but grew restless, and got up to sit where you are now peering out of the window at the blue sky.
You sense a presence in the room and turn to look behind you. And
there is Boy sitting on the bed. "Boy? Where'd you go?" you ask
rising from the chair and walking towards the bed. Boy says
nothing; he stares at the window as if he hadn't seen you.
"Looked for you everywhere, Boy!" you exclaim excitedly sitting
on the bed beside him. Boy sits hunched with his thin hands
thrust between his thighs.
"I danced, Boy. You should see it. Danced for the Sun," you whisper to him studying casually the deep-eyes staring forward intensely.
Boy says nothing, but you feel that even his silences mean
something."Sister married Jack," you inform, your voice just
above a whisper. "Speak Boy," you say. But Boy is silent. You
carefully put out on hand to touch his arm, but he gets up from
the bed and walks slowly towards the door. You watch him until he
reaches the door. Then you turn to gaze at the window where Boy's
eyes are staring, but when you look back, Boy has gone. The door
is closed and Boy has left you again. Darkness fills within you.
Your eyes dampen. You want to scream after him and chase him down
the passageways of the hotel until he stops and speaks with you.
"Boy?" you whisper. "Boy? Boy? Boy?"
Your sister finds you missing when she enters your hotel room after the siesta. She and Jack search the passageway and each landing until they reach the lobby. They ask staff if they have seen you, but none remember seeing you, except one of the lift attendants.
"She look like you," the lift attendant says in Italian. "She went out of the hotel about hour ago."
"Was she alone?" asks Jack.
"Yes. No one with her, but she was very distressed," the lift
"What could have distressed her?" Jean says. "She was fine when I left her."
They thank the attendant, go out of the hotel and look along the wide expanse of beach.
"Where would she go?" Jack asks.
Jean's eyes show panic. "I've no idea, Jack," she says.
They walk along the sands amongst the crowds searching for you. Studying each face, looking for any glimpse of a yellow dress or black hair. Jean remembers losing you once as a child when you had wandered off alone at Bournemouth. Your parents were both cross with her for letting you go off alone as if she were the eldest and you a mere child. After an hour, you were found at the far end of the beach sitting unconcerned staring out at the sea. Jean shakes her head as if the memory were only yesterday.
Jack wonders where you could have gone and gazes at his wife's features with deep concern. You and his wife are as one in looks, but he knows who is whom by the vague stare you have in your eyes since your mental breakdown. "She wouldn't try drowning herself would she?" Jack asks softly as if he were speaking to himself.
" I hope not, Jack, I hope not," Jean exclaims clutching his hand, wanting his nearness, wanting his warmth close by, remembering their love-making in their hotel room just before she'd found you missing. It's all Boyd's fault she tells herself, racing across the sands, searching along by the incoming tide; it's his entire fault she's as she is.
The sun is less hot now. A cool breeze touches Jean's cheeks. Jack stops suddenly and peers into the distance. His hand squeezes hers tightly. He points out into the far off sands down by the sea.
"Down there!" Jack exclaims. "There by the sea's edge."
Jean can see you now, can make you out amongst the children
swimming near the sea's edge, and lets out a cry as she and Jack
race along the sands to where you sit staring out at the seascape
like one in a dream.
You see Boy enter one of the hotel lifts and follow him in where a lift attendant is waiting. You stare at Boy, move close to him. "Boy what is wrong?" you whisper. Boy says nothing, but stares at the lift doors as they close. You put out your hand and touch his arm. "Have I done wrong things?" you whisper again. The lift attendant gazes at you and frowns. "Sister look after me, Boy," you inform in a gentle voice.
"Do she?" the attendant says in his broken English.
"Why do you not speak, Boy?" you ask, your voice strained.
"I speak," the attendant replies, uncertain if he should.
You want Boy to turn and face you, but he doesn't, he remains staring at the doors of the lift. "I am broken-hearted, Boy. Why did you leave me?" You begin to cry softly. The attendant looks away, stares up at the roof of the lift and then down the walls hoping the lift will soon reach its destination. "Pain in here," you say pointing to your breast with your finger. "Pains me, Boy."
The lift attendant feels uneasy, places a finger under his collar, and puffs out air."Warm day, "he says. The lift comes to a halt with a slight shudder. The doors open and Boy has gone.
You stare at the space where he stood. "Gone!" you exclaim to the
air. The lift attendant watches you race from the lift, across
the lobby like one chased by hounds, and out of the hotel doors
and out of sight. He sighs, shakes his head and stares at the
hotel doors in case you should return to haunt him.
"I see Boy," you say to Jean.
"Where?" asks Jean as they walk back with you along the beach to the hotel.
"He was in my room," you inform them slowly, wondering where Boy had disappeared to after you had followed him down to the beach.
Jean looks at Jack and signals with her eyes that something is wrong. Jack nods agreement and they say nothing more until they reach their hotel room.
"Are you certain you saw Boy?" Jean asks sitting you down on the sofa.
"He was on the bed." You stare around the room that your sister and Jack shares and let your eyes suddenly pause at a painting on one of the walls. "What picture is that?"
Jack studies the picture for a few moments. "It's a Degas. Something about a sick child," Jack informs moving away from the picture and standing by the window. "What did Boy say?" Jack asks.
"He said nothing. Just stare," you reply gazing at the picture.
"So what happened?" Jean asks. "What did he do?"
You look away from the picture and stare at your hands resting on your knees. You wonder what Boy would have said had he spoken. Wonder what his voice was like after not hearing him speak for so long. You stare at your hands and remember your father's hands, large and hairy. Boy's hands were small and slim like a girl's. Boy's hands had touched you.
"Beryl, what happened?" Jean asks again, disturbing your thoughts, scattering them like mice.
"Happened?" you repeat the word, it drifts away out of range, and you stare at your hands more intently. Where had Boy touched me? you ask yourself inwardly, rubbing your hands over your knees. Where did he learn to touch like that? You lift your eyes to Jean. "Boy, touch me," you murmur.
"Today?" Jean asks.
"No. Not today he didn't," you say slowly. Jean's eyes almost reach into you as if they wished to touch your very soul.
"When did Boy touch you, Beryl?" Jack asks from the window, the sunlight behind him.
You close your eyes, settle back on the sofa. Boy had kissed you that last time with cold lips. Yes, you say to yourself, the lips were cold and stiff like those of a corpse. You remember his slim hands touching; but where were they touching? It is all a blur. Nothing comes. Just cold lips. "Cold lips," you mutter. Jean and Jack stare at you with your eyes closed and your lips muttering.
"That Boyd Beilex has a lot to answer for," Jean says suddenly, angrily.
"No one has seen Boyd since the night before the wedding," says Jack.
"He left Beryl at the altar with no reason or explanation. Not a single word," Jean says gazing at Jack. "Why did he do that, Jack?"
"I wish I knew, Jean, I wish I knew," Jack replies softly. "He wasn't there when I went to pick him up at his house. The house was empty. His bed unslept in."
"If he couldn't face marrying Beryl why didn't just say so?" Jean asks.Jack shakes his head and stares at you on the sofa with your eyes closed and head resting on the sofa.
You remember Boy's words. His voice would get high if he were angry. Why did he touch me there? "Touch me!" you shout out suddenly. "Boy! Boy! Boy!"
The echo touches the walls like a ball hit hard. Jean and Jack stare at you. They seem frozen to the spot by the force of your voice.
"That Boyd," Jean says angrily, "that damned Boyd." The room
becomes silent. Jack turns to gaze out of the window at the
beach. Jean takes your hands in hers and holds them as if they
were some treasures she'd forgotten the value of, but now holds
You see Boy across the dining room as you sit waiting for your evening meal with Jean and Jack. He is at a table at the far end of the room sitting with two other people. You stare at him hoping he will come across to the table where you are sitting and speak to you. Boy sits staring at the woman opposite him, but she looks pass him as if she held up before him as if he were about to say grace.
"I can't see him, Beryl," says Jean, "you must be mistaken."
Jack stares across the room at the table you indicate to him. He shakes his head. "That's not Boy," he says.
"You are both blind!" you say rising from the table and walking hurriedly towards the table. Jean comes after you, wondering what is going on in your mind, where it will all end. You gaze at the table where Boy had been, but he has gone, the two people sit staring at you as you look under the table and round about the table. "Where he's gone?" you ask.
"Where's who gone?" the man asks gazing at you with raised eyebrows.
"The man sitting here with you just now?" you ask.
"No one has been sitting here," the woman exclaims.
"Did he tell you not to say where he's gone?" you ask, glaring at the woman.
Jean pulls you away from the table and tries to pacify you. "He wasn't there, Beryl. You must have been mistaken." She sits you back at the table with Jack and herself and ignores the eyes and whisperings. You look down at the tablecloth, at the flowered-pattern, at the small vase of flowers in the centre. Jean gazes at you wondering about Boyd and your illusions of seeing him. Jack studies the menu card wishing he knew what happened to Boyd, wishing he had news of him.
"Boy is trying to upset me," you say quietly.
"Boy isn't here," Jean states gently.
"He was there just now!" you state firmly, poking your finger across the room, glaring at the table, wondering where Boy has gone and why he said nothing.
Jean watches you in silence. Jack lifts his eyebrows and pulls a
face indicating what-do-we-do-now? with his features, not words.
You want Boy to come back, want him to say something; to hold you
gently as he did the first time you met. What did he say the last
time we met? You ask yourself fiddling with your knife on the
table. His words are lost to you; you cannot recall them. They
lay somewhere in your memory, floating around like lost stars in
a cold endless universe gradually becoming darker and darker and
You walk behind Jean and Jack along the veranda of the hotel. People are sitting drinking, smoking and talking as if the world had suddenly slowed down to an indiscernible rotation around the sun. You look at them as you pass, study their faces, their expressions, the movement of their hands, the way their heads turn this way and that like puppets worked by invisible hands. Jean is holding Jack's hand. You watch them just ahead of you. Their steps slow and careful as if they did not wish for the evening to end and thought that their slow pace would keep away the evening's end.
How I wish I could dance, you muse, watching their movement, letting your eyes focus on the steps. I am always happy when I can dance, you say inwardly, thinking of the last dance performance, the ballet, and the applause.
"I want to dance!" you exclaim stopping on the veranda peering at your sister's back. "Want to dance!" you say louder.
Jean turns and stares at you. "Not here, Beryl," she says softly, moving forward and taking your arm. "Here you will disturb the people."
"Where? Dance where?" you ask anxiously.
Jean and Jack lead you off the veranda and along the path of the
hotel gardens. Jean whispers to you. Jack holds your hand gently
as if you were a child again. The moonlight is bright now. The
stars are sprinkled against the dark sky as if tossed by some
god's hand. A mild wind touches your cheek like a soft kiss; it
breathes through your hair as if from a lover's breath. "You can
dance here on the beach," Jean says quietly. "Here you will
disturb no one."
You scan the deserted beach lit only by the moon and stars. The sea is calm, but you can hear the tide, can hear the waves lapping against the sands. As you gaze along the beach, you see a figure strolling by the edge of the water. You stare intently, bringing your hands to your lips. "Boy?" you mutter through your fingers. "Boy is there!" you state pointing to the place by the shoreline.
"Where?" Jean asks. She stares to where she thinks you are indicating, but sees no one.
"There!" you exclaim loudly, rushing away from them towards Boy standing peering out to sea. You reach where he stands and touch his arm. He turns and gazes at you. His eyes express nothing. His lips, motionless. "Boy, speak to me. Speak," you shout.
Jean and Jack watch you rush off to a place on the shoreline. There you stand shouting to the wind, your hand grabbing at the air. Jean watches with deep sadness. She thought you were recovering day by day, but now you seemed to be undone again. Jack stares and shakes his head.
"She's going backwards," says Jack.
"What has set her off again?" asks Jean, rubbing tears from her eyes.
"Boyd's everywhere to her. She sees him everywhere she goes," Jack says.
They walk slowly to where you stand talking to Boy. You want him to say something, but he is silent and moody as he was the last night. His eyes gaze at you, but in an unseeing way as if he were looking at you but not seeing you. You want him to hold you, to embrace you tightly, but his arms are by his side, stiff and unmoving. You grab his arms and shake him backwards and forwards until he falls from your hands and disappears from your sight into the sea.
Your sister embraces you tightly against her breast, her hand
brushing gently against your cheek. Jack stands watching and
wondering why and where and how it came to all this. The moon is
indifferent to it all; it has seen such sights before and to no
avail. The stars flicker from their faraway places uncaring of
humankind and human concerns as if all were just light and
You lie on your bed and stare up at the ceiling of the hotel room. Jean sits on a chair by the window, half in the shadow, half out, her eyes gazing at you sleepily. The only light is from the moon, which makes patterns on the ceiling that seem to dance above you as if to entertain. Jack is in their honeymoon suite lying on the bed wondering where all this will end and what will happen to you once they get back to England. He lights up a cigarette and muses on the day of your wedding. Where did Boyd go? Why didn't he just telephone? Nothing. Not a word. Not a message. And, what a state Beryl was in, he recalls inhaling deeply on the cigarette. The way she stared. The emptiness in her eyes. He shakes his head. And now this, he says to himself, almost back to square one. Back to square one.
You stare at the window certain you had seen a movement. And there by Jean's side is Boy standing by the chair. You wonder if Jean knows he is there; perhaps she has fallen asleep and is unaware of his presence, you muse, sitting upon the bed.
"Boy? That you?" you whisper. Boy says nothing. His eyes are lost in the shadow. "Say something, Boy!" you exclaim angrily.
Jean gets up from the chair and comes to you on the bed. "What is it?" she asks taking your hands in hers.
"Boy is by the chair," you say staring at him motionless by the window.
Jean looks at the chair, but no one is there. Only shadows. "It's only a shadow, Beryl. You frightened the life out of me," says Jean squeezing your hands.
"I see him. He is there still by the chair. It's no shadow," you say excitedly.
Jean goes over to the chair and moves it into the corner of the room out of sight. "Where is he now?" she asks calmly.
"Can't you see him? He's there by the window," you say pointing anxiously. Jean walks to the window, waving her hand in front of her as if she were blind. Boy has gone. You can no longer see him. "He's left me once again, without word, without reason," you whisper," without reason."
Jean leaves you asleep and returns to be with Jack. They want to make love, but Jean is uneasy and lies in Jack's arms whispering what you said you had seen. Jack listens patiently, brushing Jean's dark curl from her forehead.
"She's losing touch with reality. There was no one there. The room was empty apart from me and her," Jean informs softly.
"Why does she keep on seeing Boyd? It doesn't make sense to me," says Jack.
"The mind does funny things under pressure. Women who are desperate to have a baby can almost be persuaded by the mind that they are pregnant. The human mind is an enigma," Jean says with a sigh. Jack kisses her forehead and squeezes her towards him. Jean returns his kiss and drowns herself in his warm embrace.
You wake up with a start. Boy is sitting on the bed gazing at you. Your eyes focus on him hard. "You've returned. What are you going to say? What?" you say crossly. Boy stares at you, but says nothing. You move closer to him and stretch out your hand to touch his face. It is cold. Smooth, yet softly stiff as if he were made of wax. You pull your hand away and sit back against the wall. "Why are you so cold? Why don't you say something?" you whisper. Boy closes his eyes. You study his pale thin features; let your eyes move over his body sitting rigid facing you. Then, as if your mind had suddenly awoken from a long dream, you remember. The scene opens before you as if a play were being staged. You watch and remember. The reality splits open your mind and you see Boy's face beneath the water. His are eyes staring blankly at you, as you hold him under the water's skin with great force.
Such anger for what he had done, and how he had done it, and where he had done it, fuelled that force that held him under the water. You recall it all now. Completely undone. "Why did he touch me? Why there? Why? Why? Why?" you whisper to the room.
Jean sleeps in Jack's arms, their lovemaking done. You lie in Boy's arms forever lost in his cold endless stare.