Summer of Love
The story behind collection №7, By founder Kimberley Gordon
The sound of seagulls rip me from a dead sleep. I struggle to open my eyes which are crusted over with glitter and chunky mascara. I glance at the clock- 12:05pm. Another day sleeping past noon. I rub my feet inside the sheets, soft sweatpants and tiny, coarse reminders of last night's beach excursion. Stretching, I head to the bathroom, I work overtime brushing the martini breath from my mouth. The fridge is basically empty besides a tiny bit of orange juice, some sliced, white bread, maraschino cherries, watermelon and a few bikini tops (an effort to reduce the effect of the sweltering 90 degree mid-day sun) There’s a note on the fridge, a number scribbled in childlike handwriting, “You're a dream, baby. A real dream. Call me next weekend... Alfie” I can barely make out the name, Alfie, the words are almost illegible and get smaller and tighter together in an effort to fit the paper. “Alfie.” I say aloud, “Alfie?” Bits and pieces coming back.
I hear Annie’s voice croak from the other room, I pour the rest of the OJ into two jade green glasses and potter into the living room where the ugly, yellow drapes are drawn, barely keeping the light out, and the stone fireplace still smells of a long night. My sandy toes sink into the brown carpet. Annie is curled up on the sofa, her poofy, pastel dress splayed out around her, pink crochet summer blanket spread, just barely, across her big feet. I curl up next to her, the springs sinking as my body's absorbed by the old floral couch. We chug the juice on our backs, giggling.
“Who is Alfie?” I ask with a nervous smile
“Oh man, Alfie!!!” She throws her head back with a laugh.
“What a nut! He must have left so early. I was up for a wee at six and he was gone”
“Oh Jesus. Where did he sleep?”
“Well, last I saw him was about 3... passed out in the bathtub, I gave him your sweater for a pillow. Poor chap.”
“Ohhhhh, lovely. Well, he left a goodbye note!” I slap it onto my forehead
"You're a cream baby?"
"Dream." I say.
“The picture of class!” She says
“We certainly are" I say sarcastically, and we both roar into laughter. Not even funny, and yet we are crying with hysterics.
We potter into the bathroom and strip the clothes from our bodies, tossing them to the floor. We pull on bright, floral bikinis, still slightly damp from yesterday’s swim, and slather sunscreen onto our ever-browning skin. I notice how many freckles I’ve developed, and I like them. The bathroom sink is covered in girly treasures, a vase of freshly cut roses from the garden, toothpaste opened and leaking onto the pale pink tile, shitty romance novels bookmarked halfway, pink towels crumpled on the floor like swirled and melted terrycloth ice cream, fashion magazines waterlogged and covered in tea rings, and even more bikinis draped over towel racks. We’ve been staying at my aunt’s seaside home in Kent since May, and we’ve spent every day at the rocky beach since the day we arrived. I scrub the glitter from my face and help Annie brush out her perfectly straight, thick dark hair. “Last night was far out. One for the books” she says with her newly found, sexy, hoarse voice. We’d started at a Beatles concert- one we’d saved up to buy tickets to for a full year. Now that we’d made it all the way here, we'd spent hours getting ready, putting our hair in full sets of rollers, reading our magazines and copying the makeup from the models standing in stupid star-shaped poses, lips parted, eyebrows raised and eyes open like Bambi. We painted our nails turquoise as we listened to Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, my personal favorite Magic Carpet Ride, and of course all the Beatles records we’d been collecting. Within you Without You, our summer anthem. By evening, we were zipping each other into new dresses- hers short, pastel blue and as big as a door frame, mine ruffled, puffed shoulders, kelly green and covered in a cream floral. We went to a fancy restaurant for dinner, where we drank martinis and pretended to be rich, spending the last of our summer savings on lobster with peas and mashed potatoes. This summer was the first we’d spent together, away from our hum drum city lives, the two of us. It felt amazing to get far away from the sweltering heat of Manchester. The day we arrived, stepping from the black taxi onto cobblestone sidewalks, a fresh breeze whipped my hair, ocean scent lingered in the air, and I felt freer than ever in my whole life. When I took a deep breath I could almost taste the salt.
At dinner we planned our evening, somehow we’d manage to get backstage, we’d head to some fabulous band gathering after befriending Paul and John, we’d be the life of the party, shaking vibrant cocktails and rolling about on expensive shearling rugs, we’d strip naked and swim in a pool and impress them all with our tan lines and endless knowledge of music. In reality, when we arrived at the concert, we were surrounded by screaming girls (possibly all with the same goal) crammed between crying teenagers and their helpless boyfriends, we felt old as we made useless eye contact with the numerous security guards, and realised how far-fetched our dream had been. Instead we faced facts that we could barely hear the songs over the endless scream-weeping, and getting backstage was looking about as realistic as becoming a member of the band.
Instead, we shoved our way onto the street for a cig and much needed break, met a group of handsome boys shuffling about in their penny loafers, passing a joint, and joined them to head to a dingy pub nearby. Walking inside was like entering a grey storm cloud, the cigarette smoke so thick it swarmed us as if we'd entered some sort of disgusting dream world. The smell of beer soaked carpet, sweet Coca-Cola and chips made me nostalgic for home. I pressed myself between two drunk men and ordered a half Stella and re-joined the rowdy group, beer spilling onto my hands as I carried it carefully to our tiny table. I sat next to the boy with the blue eyes, Alfie? It was Alfie. He had longish hair, its styling had come loose and pieces fell in his face. He was chatty, funny, nervously I stayed quiet and felt his elbow dig into me as he shared inside jokes and stories I couldn't quite follow. After a few drinks I stood up to use the loo and realised I was very drunk, but happy. In the bathroom, Annie and I tried to reapply eyeliner and lipstick, but it still looked sloppy. She suggested we head to the beach and go skinny dipping (perhaps one of our plans could come to fruition?)
This is where things get a bit blurry. I ask Annie to fill in the gaps.
“Oh, we never got further than taking off our shoes” she says, rolling her eyes. “We just kept collapsing on each other, the boys brought a 6 pack and we kept clinking bottles and toasting to the night.” She said with an eyeball.
“We did end up at someone’s apartment, do you remember that? He had blow up furniture and... an aquarium. Yuck. But your boyfriend, Alfie, would not stop talking. He was quite funny though. It seemed like you liked him. But then again it seemed like you liked everyone last night”
“Oh no. Did I kiss anyone?”
“No. Well… I don’t think so. Just danced on the table, you flirt. Maybe you kissed Alfie in the taxi home? I fell asleep on the ride”
I think hard, blinking and staring into the print of her dress. I remember… something. Soft lips, pretty brown eyes and crooked teeth, smiling at me. Sort of big but delicate hands, grazing mine. He was quieter in the car, wasn't he... whispering almost. What did he say?
“How on earth did he end up at home with us??”
“Yep, you invited him home to play records, but the second we walked in you put on your sweats and hit the bed- hard.” she starts to laugh, stands up and does an impression of me falling like a log against the sofa.
I chuckle, “Sounds about right.” I try to remember- little flashes- his arm around my waist, sweet voice, skinny black tie, rolled up sleeves and soft forearms holding me up. He smelled of Aftershave... and... beer?
Annie and I raid the kitchen and make a picnic of crisps, melon, bananas and red Jello cups, she butters the last of the bread, "Chip butties?" she asks, and I nod. We stuff our beach bag with books and grab little green sunglasses from the side table, I shove in a bottle of champers. We put on our sandals, the smell of sunscreen and roses emanating from our skin and hair. We take our usual long stroll through town, listening to sounds of cars whipping past, we watch young mothers trying to gather their screaming, summer children as an ice cream truck slows to a stop, wet dogs panting hard on long leashes. At the beach we struggle over the rocks, which are baked hot from the sun. We spread our salmon pink blanket in the least crowded spot we can find, there aren’t many. The waves break softly, rhythmically, it’s so peaceful as I lay back, and I let my body soak up this summer heat. I relax. Annie opens her book. I try to focus- Alfie. Bumpy taxi ride.
"When are you going back home?" he's asking me, whispering almost touching my ear with his mouth.
"Never. I'm staying here with you"
I cringe with the memory.
Annie says she’s too hot and heads off to the pier to get some chips. Staring into blue sky at the clouds rolling past, I remember dancing with him as the record player droned on, “Lucy in the skyyyy” I sing softly. He wasn't tall, under 6 foot. I close my eyes, trying to remember. Did he kiss me?
A few minutes later I see Annie strolling back, her mid length, green dress floating in the breeze. She's got big sticks of candy floss and a paper bag stuffed to the brim with deliciously salty chips. She plops down next to me, her scent so familiar after all these years of friendship- comforting me since my childhood. We eat, greasy and delicious, small wooden forks, each bite a little piece of hangover cure heaven, we shove the chips into bread, taking big bites, and pull fluffs of candy floss placing it to our tongues, where it dissolves into rough sugar. When we are full we lay back and I check my tan lines, which are forming beautifully- like the water babies child on the pink sunscreen bottles. We begin to sweat, beads forming under our noses, we head down to the sea and stand in the year-round ice-cold water as it gently laps our ankles. I splash Annie and she runs, screaming. Children are building sandcastles and I watch as some teenagers flirt nearby.
I remember the beach, late, sitting on a rock he swigs his beer. He's looking at me, big eyes, all wanting. He leans in, his arm around me... Is that right? A summer romance. Could it be?
I glance at our little pink blanket in the distance where sea gulls have begun to circle, they are polishing off the last of our food.
I scream, and we run towards them, as fast as we painfully can over tiny pebbles, we flail our arms and the birds scatter, barely taking flight.
“Well, there goes the rest of lunch.”
“yep. The gulls have eaten the last of our lives.”
"HA!" I look at her with a grimace, "We're Gonna have to call your dad for some cash. That, or start working." we both laugh.
We dry off, put on more sunscreen and fall asleep in the last of the afternoon light. By the time we wake up most of the people are gone and the last of them are packing up their things.
“We should head back. What should we do tonight?”
“World’s our oyster. We could just read and cook dinner?”
Or call Alfie
“Or… we could go out.”
I see his number in my mind, scrawled sloppily across that little paper. I picture his grin and suddenly remember soft lips. Taxi cab, pushing against me, we did kiss! I remember now. We kissed!! Oh did we... on the beach, in the taxi, in the hallway, I remember. Heaven.
I wonder if he is thinking of me, too.
She smiles at me, as if she’s reading my mind. She probably is, as always
We may be broke, but summer is waiting- and this will be the best one yet.