Brine gets into your blood when you live beside the sea; it gets into your bones. You flow with a watery energy that carries you along. But you become tough and unwieldy too, like salt-cured fish. I haven't always been a shore dweller but ending up here with Luke made me feel at peace. I live above Squidinky, my tattoo parlour, and at night I hear the sea shushing and the tourists who patter by, drunk on beer and each other.
Lying in bed I pluck sleep crystals from my eyes, stretch until my bones click, then heave myself up because my bladder is leading me to the bathroom. To my daily surprise, the mirror above the sink tells me that I am old. Hovering in front of it I examine my shirred jowls and the yellow tinge to the waterlines of my eyes.
'Not too bad,' I announce, because if I say it enough it might be so.
Sunny days clang here: children beat buckets with spades, the ice cream van tinkles 'O Sole Mio' and parents whine and smile. There is such pleasure in letting all life take place outside my window to those who come to the sea in search of happiness and escape. They are right to come here. This is the home of happy.
I won't open Squidinky today; the skins of a few more people can stay blank until tomorrow — things are slow in the spring anyway. This is a day for walking and relaxing; for air in the throat. After my porridge, I wrap my slacks into my socks and pull on rubber boots. Luke's green cape coat will keep me cocooned if the wind is high.