Listen to the surf. I could lie here, lie here with you forever.
But you can’t. She buries her face in the pillow. Oh, I know. Things change. Yet the surf. Harry stretches his body along Aster’s bare back. Yet the surf. The surf will always. Always. Aster? Aster?
Aster lies there listening. The waves crash on the beach in a dull roar, like distant thunder. Darling? She shivers, pulls up the sheet, her knuckles pressed against her chin. Darling? A curtain flaps. The breeze whistles through the weatherboard cladding.
In the darkness Harry feels his way across the room. He touches her hand stretched out from the sheet, whispers I’m here. He falls into the bed and takes some of the sheet for himself. He jostles Aster, seeking the softness of her naked body. And after a moment he lies still, breathing lightly.
I saw a ghost.
Seemed like one. He feigns a laugh.
Oh, the neon, that white neon, Aster says, her voice muffled in the pillow. If it bothers you so much we can get it changed. Darling, you can’t expect everything to be perfect from the start.
Harry tugs at the sheet again. Why do they put a neon over the mirror anyway? Listen to the surf.
I could lie here like this listening to the surf, lie here with you forever, Aster.
But you can’t. She buries her face in the pillow.
Oh, I know. Things change. Yet the surf.
Harry stretches his body along Aster’s bare back. Yet the surf. The surf will always. Always. Aster? Aster?
The breeze blows the curtains flap, flap, flap. You coming?
Harry reaches across and switches on the bed lamp.
Oh shit, Aster says. Look at the time.
A wave hisses up the beach and soaks into the sand at their feet.
Any moment now, Harry says.
Suddenly the full moon fills the sky and rushes towards them across the water.
Aster’s eyes glint in the light. Race you, she yells.
At the top of the sandhill Aster sinks down. Oh I’m out of breath.
Harry leans close, tastes the salt on her ear. I’ve never felt so close to anyone before, he says. With you.
Aster slips off her T-shirt and shimmies out of her shorts. She lays out on the sand, her body etched hard by the moonlight. The sand is still hot. Cover me over with it.
He scoops the sand over her body. Aster, do you think we could do things together always?
I mean, like we could be these archaeologists sifting the sand for the remains of ancient civilisations, and together all the time, sharing everything.
The sand is freezing when you dig deep.
Aster lies in the sand watching the moon going around the earth. Harry stretches out with his head against hers.
On the other side of the bay a long ragged string of flames burns through the bushland, and in the still night air across the water they can hear the fire crackling.
We could run a corner store together, Harry says.
The moonlight flashes on the water. The glowing foam surges across the sand and fills their footprints.
Like when we first met. When we had that coffee in the hotel and instead of going back to the conference we walked along the beach, and the moon came up over the water just like this.
Aster picks up a silvery shell. I had never walked on the beach in the moonlight.
Not before you.
We walked on the beach and I was thinking I can say anything to you.
And you said everything.
Then Aster sees the dolphin shadows hanging in the waves and she stops still. Do you see them?