Lanzarote was a girls’ holiday, booked so last minute that we are slightly disorganised and that to hug each other in Manchester Airport feels sudden and soon.
When we arrive in the early evening, our bungalow is cool, square, white and quiet. Black gate railings and pink flowers around the door. We go out to have some food and wine, not quite believing that we are here. We walk the twenty minutes along the seafront to town and the street is lined with tourist shops that are filled with fridge magnets and cigarette lighters, inflatable toys and friendship bracelets. At night the strip is lit in neon with sparkling cocktails, the evening air hot on bare skin and bursts of music as a car slows to call something in Spanish. Voices from Manchester, Newcastle, Cork, Dunfermline.
The mornings when I run are cool in the early light, though with each step the heat lifts and thickens and by the time I get back the girls are already in bikinis, sitting out with breakfast and cups of tea.
There is the smell of suncream on oily slicked skin and across the plastic table we have scattered sunglasses, books that are left open and folded back on the spine, empty beer bottles, mascara that will probably melt in the sun. As I slip between sleep and wake, I watch over the edge of the sun lounger at the lines of ants on the hot white tiles. They gather around an invisible sticky spot where one of us girls has dropped something.
The girls. Ruth – tall, slim, black and white stripes, creamed skin, freckled shoulders. Her limbs are angled as she cuts through the shimmering, sliding water of the swimming pool. Sarah – shorter and honey with her pink bikini and the curve of her back.
In the afternoon haze, there is the hot rumble of a plane coming into land and someone is cutting a hedge two doors down. Inside one of the girls shouts who-wants-a-G-and-T? The big bright sky is silent and blue as dried flower petals are skittered across the tiled floor in the breeze.