“Are you alright, Pingu? You have a strange look on your face.” We are walking along the seafront towards the pier. It is a beautiful late May afternoon, and the sun is shining and glittering off the ripples cascading across the water. Gentle waves ebb and flow along the shoreline where children sit with their families building fortresses, and other unrecognisable structures, out of damp sand.
I stop walking and move around to stand in front of Craig, reaching my arms around his waist and snuggling into his chest. I take a deep breath in, inhaling his now familiar earthy scent mixed with the fresh smells of the sea air. “I’m perfect. This is perfect. Thank you.”
“You are perfect. I’m glad you recognise that.” He smiles as he looks down into my eyes and wraps his own arms around me. He places a kiss on my forehead, leaving his lips attached to my skin. Why did I spend so many years wasting my life on a man that basically thought he owned me but had no interest in really being with me? I have missed out on so many days like this.
Becki was right with what she said. I’m starting to see that everything does happen for a reason. Maybe I was meant to stay with David until now so that I could be right here, right now, with Craig. He really is my Silver Lining. He gives me hope and optimism for a brighter future, despite whatever issues he has going on at the moment.
We spend the next few hours strolling around town, looking in shops, chatting about anything and everything, and just enjoying being together. When my stomach suddenly growls rather loudly, letting me – and probably everyone else in Paignton – know that it’s time to eat, we grab some Fish and Chips and sit on the pier eating them. Craig wanted to take me into some fancy restaurant, but relented when I started ranting about not being able to come to the seaside and eat fish and chips out of the paper. “It’s a British tradition,” I argued.
With our stomachs full, we kick our shoes off and take a stroll along the sand. The beach is quieter now, the falling early evening temperatures driving families back to their hotels or wherever it is they came from.
“You’re a bit of a snob, do you know that?” I say to Craig as we walk along an almost deserted area of the beach. I’m walking backward, facing him and laughing.
“Oh yeah?” Craig quirks an eyebrow. “How’s that?”
“Only snobs would be snobbish about eating fish and chips and candy floss when they come to the seaside. These are staple Seaside requirements, Mr Silver, along with making sandcastles and… this...” I flick my foot in the shallow water and splash him.
“Oh, you’re in for it now,” he growls, staring into my eyes.
Shit, this isn’t good. He has a devilish look in his eyes that makes me want to jump on him and flee at the same time. I gulp when he flinches and as quickly as I can, turn on my heels and run away from him, squealing in laughter, running as fast as I can through the soft sand.
I’m laughing and trying to catch my breath while evading Craig’s attempts to catch me. When I hit a large ditch in the sand, I stumble, giving Craig the perfect opportunity to lunge forward and grab me around the waist. The momentum from his attack causes me to lose my balance and we both crash down onto the sand.
Turning over quickly onto my back so I can swipe the sand away from my face, I look up to see Craig leaning over me. He is breathing heavy, his chest rising and falling sharply with each laboured inhale and exhale. We are both laughing uncontrollably, trying to catch our breath. My heart skips a beat looking up at him. He looks so young and carefree; a stark contrast to his usual cool, calm and controlled demeanour.
Our eyes lock onto each other and the laughter immediately ceases. We simply remain frozen in time, lost in each other’s gaze. I vaguely hear music in the distance, the song being carried along by the gentle sea breeze. The words from “What About Now” by Daughtry filter into my emotion filled haze.