Tinder by Angelita Bradney

It happens three days into my solo holiday. A touch deep inside my abdomen, both of me and not of me. I sit up and place a hand on my warm belly. Above, the papery fronds of palm trees shift reluctantly in the breeze. The sand glows white-hot. There – I feel it again.
It’s a moment made for sharing. I could post an update, even send him a message, but I know he wouldn’t appreciate it. Adding insult to injury; a reminder of my callous duplicity, he would say. I’m tempted nonetheless, but I leave my phone in my bag, him in peace.
People have settled at the beach in single-sex groups: girls in scraps of bikinis with beads around their wrists, stringy boys with muscles and tattoos. They stretch out like predators at rest; later, in the bar, they will make their move. Further along there’s a family I recognise from the hotel. The father eyes me while the mother fusses with towels and the kids run for the sea. I lie back, move my hips almost imperceptibly. Not showing yet; I could be the same age as his wife but don’t look it. Twice-weekly gym visits, everything I earn spent on myself – the advantages of being single. But there are some things you can’t do alone.
My lips taste of salt, heat radiates from my pores. When I broke the news some people carped it wasn’t fair, he didn’t sign up for this when he swiped right. What do they know of the dilemma of the body ageing, time passing, the fundamental urge to love and be loved?
Ahead of the blinding horizon the sea scintillates with promise. I rise, and bear my precious prize to the cool grasp of the water.

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