Morning shadows of leaves, a lamppost; of me and my wife; our deckchairs; they add depth to the cascade of beautifully dull colours on the advertising board; easily passable as one of those modern art pieces. The peeling notices are numerous, new and old. A history of the comings and goings of this tiny Spanish town. My eyes squint at the mass of incomprehensible words – sym-ba-tec, wast-o-pan-ee, tact-ise – dismantled, pasted together, blown apart again, the letters dance amongst broken pictures of palm trees, cocktails glasses and paella. Black silhouettes of senoritas dancing the flamenco.
“What are you so obsessed with over there?”
“Nothing darling.” The sound of her voice has startled me slightly. I had thought she was asleep. Her sunglasses, big, round, uninterested are facing towards me; lips pursed in annoyance. Don’t disturb me they seem to be saying. Should I elaborate?
Instead I turn onto my back. Reach the Agatha Christie from the table between us. Take a sickly gulp of warm cola.
It is a good hour and a half later when I smell the burning. At first I take it for a distant barbecue and my eyes remain shut. Only when the smell becomes unbearably strong do I realise it is my wife. Covered in oil she is literally sizzling in the sun.
I wonder: should I leave her be? then consider taking the clean white hotel towel and draping it over her legs and torso. Moving the sun umbrella closer to shade her face and arms. But I do not.
“Darling?” I venture, but there is no reply. She is asleep; for real this time.
The smell of smouldering rubber I think. That’s what it reminds me of. Rubber.
Leaning over, touching my nose against her naked, slithery belly, I breathe in the magnificent scent.