Fish and Chip Goodbyes

No turning back, no hesitation. Just one step after another.

From the window I could see the sea rise, while surfers turned on the white foam and were enveloped by the smoky grey waves. I felt sea sick, as if the waves might bear down upon my fragile bones and turn the dust to chalky paste. The house was flimsy, it could have been made of paper and matchsticks. I could feel the swell of the sea, breath within the walls. That house was the fragile embrace around Ashman and I.

It hadn’t been a mistake to come here, I thought. A tiny beachside house in New Zealand. It was our place, to lick fish and chip grease from each other’s fingers, have faces get grainy from the salt air, to say our goodbyes to the cold sheets of

That night we climbed to the lighthouse, a colossus bearing imperiously over the matchbox town. At the very top of the cliffs we exhilarated ourselves peering over the edge as moonlight taunted ragged waves bellowing far, far, below.

We kissed. Lingering as one does to watch a bird in flight. A fleeting moment, seen only by you, gone before you can enjoy it. Our kisses were lemon pips that night; sweet and sharp but a promise of bitter fruit to come.

We sat by the silent giant of the lighthouse and thanked whoever had strewn shiny drawing pins across the indigo roof. We said thank you for every minute that our hands entwined, that love’s whispers rasped in our throats.

My Ashman slept. A pile of clothes, small enough for a child to outgrow, lay on the sand.

My body, a portrait of this vicious disease but my face showed each lemon pip kiss, angry word, drawing pin sky and bellowing wave. I had pushed these things inside me until it seemed my fabric would burst. Cold air pinched my rice paper skin. Thin, sweet, breakable.

The sun was just an infant that morning, and so, to me, it looked like everything was spun from golden thread. The light danced with the sea and spawned a thousand silver fish glimmering on the surface.

Hadn’t I lived each and every moment? Hadn’t I bitten down each precious morsel like a ravenous, frightened animal? Hadn’t I been free? Yes. I had been loved and I had something to walk away from and to long for.

Icy golden threads wrapped themselves around me and I laughed into the sea air. Hoping that someone would catch it on the wind and know what it was to hunger for every minute. No turning back, no hesitation, just one step after another. With shining eyes and fish and chip lips, I said goodbye, in the smoky grey waves.

Fish and Chip Goodbyes


Vietnam, United Kingdom

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