The babies rolled toward the water from the sand, fat grains still dripping out of the bouncy one’s mouth. No harm in eating sand. It just churns right through them like mortar. They burbled and hiccuped to each other as they rolled, gaining momentum, feeling the wash of the shallows and giggling as it tickled their marshmallow chins. Glinting wavelets were already cradling them and handing them on to the big waves to be rocked before the adults noticed. Flying sun hats, a burst bottle of sunscreen dribbling onto the beach and the rip of a sarong tripped down the beach, kicking sand buckets, shovels and brine. It was inconceivable they could have rolled that far on their own, and yet there they were. The wind perhaps. One toppled and grabbed the other for support. The babies burped and smiled, remembering the swell of the sea. How in the water finally they could breathe again, finally they could see.
The day we met, I reeked of blood. Straight from the kill floor to the supermarket aisle with no time in between to change. Not that you’d know to look at me – looking like a cricket umpire, I was, all snowy white from top to toe. You see the blood better that way. And I’m standing at the deli counter, giving shit to the guy arranging the steaks, who left the roar of the cows and the hoses at my side in exchange for these Hallmark card slabs of meat, and I notice this woman. She’s standing way too close to me, just behind my right shoulder, dark hair pulled back like she had to do it in a hurry, and she’s smelling me. I know that way of smelling, the long, shallow inhale to make it seem like you’re not doing it. I know it from people on the bus, trying to figure out what I stink of. I know it from the tellers at the bank, and the laundromat patrons and the McDonalds queue in peak hour. And it pisses me off, that sniff like a sneer, so I turn around and I look her full in the face. And she goes totally still and stares at me and she knows I know. And we just stand there, with our eyes bouncing off each other for a few seconds, and she doesn’t apologise like I think she’s going to, or slink away like a sad old dog. She opens her mouth, and really quiet and firm, she says ‘You smell like my dad did.’ And we just hold it, air rippling between us. We don’t say a word, we just turn and walk to the self serve checkout, and for once I don’t fuck it up and have to wave over an employee to help, we just put our heads down and pack our plastic bags and stride on out and we go back to her place and fuck like all we are is meat.