Harold was a rugby player. You could tell from his physique. He was fit. His eyes bright, the whites so blue, Carmen thought. She loved his every sinew and marveled how he emerged grinning from the scrum, muddied, hair sweat-slicked on his forehead.
Their eyes met and stayed in frozen synergy until he blinked. She laughed a silent open-mouthed guffaw. He was the competitive one. She never won the stare game.
Harold lifted his cup. The little moment of defeat passed. He offered a wry smile, quickly submerged in a hasty gulp. The cup sounded plastic when he placed it in its saucer. He had not meant to stare when their gazes locked, but to probe her soul, to find a soft landing there.
“You remember the storm in Devon,” she said, finding him distant and not in playful mood. “We must go there again, next year. The surfers were amazing. You wished you could join them, there in the dark. ‘Finding refuge in the chasms of the rollers’ you had said. So poetic I wrote it down.”
“Yes, they were hostages to fortune, I thought. A bit like rugby. That’s what you do in any rough. Find the refuge.”
Carmen rummaged through the cabinet where she kept their holiday paraphernalia. She found the notebook and placed it open on the foldout table. Harold avoided reading.
“And now with a caravan, it’ll be even better,” she urged.
His hands were palms down on the cold formica. She layered hers on his, giving refuge. “Won’t it be? Better?”
They searched each other’s souls until the tea was tepid, past drinking.
“We can travel in our heads. Though the wheels stay put. We have a month or two to dream across this table. Tell me more about the waves.”