a three year old dribbles words out her small pink mouth as she scoops up sand and watches it fall between her fingers. her mother smiles at her before returning to her novel. a white spotted butterfly flutters past the girl and her mouth hangs open: she thinks it is the fairy in the stories her mother reads her. she watches, still as stone, as the butterfly hovers before it rises beyond her reach.
a sixty year old woman with dark spots and crisscrossing varicose veins up the length of her back thighs takes a picture of her husband sitting in the shallows with his legs stretched out in front of him. they move slowly, deliberately. the wife catches me staring and she smiles. only tenderness there.
a middle-aged man pushes his wife down onto their blanket and kisses her, passionately, oblivious to strangers’ eyes. their baby squirms beside them gurgling at shells hanging from twine tied to a tree branch a few feet above her. the shells twirl in the breeze and the baby laughs.
three tour boats arrive and anchor in the distance near the reef. fifty farang bob in the water with bright orange life vests. i think of the film, Jaws.
at 7am the beach was empty and a hush blew across the shore. now, it is littered with twenty somethings with their requisite tattoos and tiny bikinis. the forty year old me is envious, but i was them once, before children and life.
it is no rumour, no urban legend: we do grow old. and one day, we return to the sea.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Art by Marina Capdevila