An extract from the novel I am writing:

The mimosa is in bloom. Small, bunched-up suns in a galaxy of green. Emma watches me as I settle into the hanging chair beneath the shade of the wild rose. The proximity of bees does not concern me. I’m currently reading Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler. Karen suggests I read something else. The sound of birds singing furiously fills the gaps in conversation. I watch

the girls to see if their concentration is broken by the natural song. Each sublime note is a stone thrown from the bushes to attract attention. Can I love someone who cannot hear such cheerfulness? Emma watches me watch her. ‘I can hear them,’ she says. ‘Hear what?’ says Karen.

The mimosa is in bloom. Small, bunched-up suns in a galaxy of green. I write it down several times on the back of Calvino’s novel. It sounds quite ordinary. Karen has the longest legs. With every short breeze I smile involuntarily, as if mother nature herself was taking the trouble to cool me down. I watch several small bees argue over a single bloom.

Charlo (pronounced Sharlo), walks up to the pool edge as if she is about to jump in. ‘How’s your novel writing going?’ she asks. ‘Why don’t you write it as a filmscript? I’d help you find someone to produce it, I’m sure.’ She pauses and then lifts her head. ‘Isn’t the birdsong lovely this afternoon,’ she says. ‘I ought to get back to Yan, he’ll be jealous if I stay too long. He has a new project he wants to start in Belgium of all places and he wants me to accompany him. Don’t ask what it’s about because I don’t know. The girls want me back too.’

Karen suggests a walk down to the beach. ‘It’ll be cooler down there,’ she says. I’m annoyed at my inadequate tribute to the mimosa but I’ve never been any good at poetry. Each word is given too much responsibility. I stand up. ‘You can’t eat mimosa,’ I say. In England I forage for berries and fruit. I love dandelions. Pippa, the maid, told me yesterday, that she thought I was a patriarch in my own domain of women. ‘What nonsense,’ I said. What can I do?

Emma is so confident. Her beauty is not unique but her charm is. Karen is odd, funny and very sensual. I like to watch their friendship. Love is better when it’s allowed to be what it is, naturally. We are fortunate of course, to be here on the sand like four lizards warming under the sun. ‘You can’t eat mimosa,’ I say, again. ‘I wish you could,’ says Emma. ‘Can’t you put them in a salad?’ says Charlo. ‘They are toxic,’ I say.

Karen asks Charlo what she is going to do about Yan. ‘Your girl’s will know how unhappy you are, you must leave him and come and live here with us.’ I brush sand from the pages of my book. Like four lizards warming under the sun. Surely, that has been written before. The sentence doesn’t describe the true-feel of the moment. It’s a flippant metaphor used by a lazy, overheating mind. It’ll be embraced by the shallow and scorned by the profound. I draw a line through it.

Emma looks across at me and then turns to Charlo. ‘The narrator loves you very much,’ she says, nodding in my direction. ‘To Yan you’re just a trophy. You two were made for each other.’ Charlo looks at me. ‘Is it thirty years we have known each other?’ she asks. I nod my head. ‘More,’ I say. I was friends with her father first. He was a charming alcoholic and lothario. His wealth and charisma attracted much attention from women and men alike. He was an icon of the sixties. Because of him, Charlo is trying her best to remain on the rails of monogamy.

The thinnest layers of Mediterranean Sea stretch out towards us smoothing the sand. The North Sea always stretches further. The waves are deeper. The thinnest layers of Mediterranean Sea stretch out towards us smoothing the sand. I am making a mess of Calvino’s novel. Words now decorate the back cover in trails of varying degrees of meaningful ink. Small, bunched-up suns in a galaxy of green. The sentence is growing on me. I catch Emma watching my fascination with the back of the book. We smile. I couldn’t have written this day any better. ‘I’m going to watch the mimosa,’ I say. ‘I’ll come with you,’ she says.

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