Laying on the soft, warm sand, feeling every grain caressing her body, Evie smiled. The sun shone high above her and she enjoyed it’s radiance and the comforting feeling it gave her. It was as if the sun’s rays penetrated her skin and she could feel it nourishing her deep inside. She looked out across the ocean, smiling at the contrast between the azure blue sea and the slightly lighter blue sky above, trying to see exactly where they met. Windsurfers embraced the breeze and danced around on the waves. The sunshine blazing on the sea created a beautiful, sparkling shimmer you could only dream of. Tears of pure joy glistened in her eyes. Life was wonderful.
She had sat by this beach six months before. Then, the sea had looked cold but yet inviting. She had shivered as she drank her warm coffee and reflected on her life. She had looked out at the boats and wondered why people would want to waste their time being thrashed about on the waves. She had closed her eyes with her hand on her head trying to think positive thoughts. None came. Tears had rolled down her face, the saltiness of her tears mixing the with cool salty breeze that had been gradually building up since she had stumbled down to the beach that lunchtime. Her eyes stung, her head hurt and she didn’t know what to do.
Life had been a struggle then. She had a job she enjoyed so she tried to fit in. It was normal for all the other workers to meet in the wine bar round the corner for a drink or two to discuss the day and unwind. She had been thrilled when Sally, who was a year or so older than her, asked her to come along. The others were all so welcoming and it had become part of her daily routine. Most of them had one or two glassses of wine or beer and then headed home to their respective families. Evie, however, had no one at home so she would often chat to the bar staff and stay a little later than the others. She would sometimes call into the convenience store on the way home and grab herself something easy for dinner and sometimes a bottle of wine to drink with it. This became her normal. Until she spoke to Arthur.
Arthur joined the team in October. He didn’t seem like the others. Evie couldn’t quite work out what was different about him but she found something new to like about him each time she saw him. She liked his twinkly greeen eyes, she adored the way his nose crinkled as he smiled and, most of all, she loved his laugh – a hearty, infectious laugh. She asked him if he wanted to join them for drinks after work and was disappointed when he made an excuse. She felt bad and rejected so when she went home she finished her usual bottle of wine, wallowing in self-pity until she fell asleep on the settee.
Late for work as usual, the next day she leaned on a window sill while waiting for the coffee machine to be refilled. She couldn’t function properly in the mornings until she had at least three. Arthur hurried past her giving her a sympathetic smile. She just gazed after him with a foggy feeling in her brain. She felt unhappy, lonely and worthless and she didn’t like the way her life was going. She muddled her way through the morning, feeling miserable and despondent. Lunchtime came and as she hadn’t had time to prepare herself any lunch in the morning, she wandered down to the coffee shop along the promenade to grab a coffee and a sandwich. She stuffed the paper bag into her coat pocket and found herself on an empty seat in a bus stop to eat her lunch and drown her sorrows in her coffee. That’s where Arthur had found her.
He had almost walked past her but the rustling sound of her bag had made him stop. He saw her red nose and sore eyes and felt an overwhelming desire to protect her. Since he had started working at Planters he had noticed the pretty secretary with the adorable brown eyes. He had admired her and wanted to get to know her but not quite understood the sad aura she seemed to have about her. He had wanted to ask her to accompany him to the theatre one evening but she seemed more interested in going to the bar every evening with all the ‘loud’ workers who rushed off as soon as five o’clock came.
He sat down on the bench next to her and asked her if she was ok. It was the first act of kindness anyone had shown her in years so Evie cried more than she had ever cried before. She clung on to him desperately and eventually managed to explain how out of control she felt about her life. Arthur listened and cared. He understood. He promised to help her and support her. Everything was going to be alright, there was hope.