Total Word Count: 50,065
War is never just despite what we tell ourselves
After the ties that bind are shredded
And the boots worn out....
Kit thought he was alone but as the light came around the hillside, he saw that there was a figure sitting in a hollow of the rocks. He was alert not because he feared for his safety but for the moral customs which he may inadvertently trample.
Kit could make out the willowy figure of a youth, and with a sense of relief saw that it was a male. A young woman from the village, alone, could cause gossip and both her honour and his would be questioned. This much he had learned about Spanish society from his travels so far, and he smiled to himself. Not so different then to England, except that he would never swim naked in England at dawn, even in midsummer.
He rose carefully and headed for the beach and hastily dried himself on his old shirt and dressed. Then he found a deep rock-pool and washed through the clothes he had been wearing for the past week and he heard an amused voice behind him.
‘You need a woman to do that for you,’ the voice said, and Kit looked up into the silhouette of a tall youth with a halo of brown curls. He looked liked a classical statue from Roman times, or at least, Michelangelo’s version of one. Kit left his clothes to soak and stood up and found that he was as tall as the young man in front of him but a little heavier and a few years older. He held out his hand.
‘Kit Brown,’ he said.
The young man had picked Kit’s straw hat up from the pebbles where he had left it when he went swimming. He held out his hand.
‘Fernando Ignacio Batista y Saragossa,’ he said, placing the hat on Kit’s head. ‘The sun will get hot soon,’ and he sat on a rock whilst Kit continued his laundry. ‘Keetbrown,’ he said. ‘Is that all? Not much of a name.’
Kit wrung the salt water from his shirt and lay it out on another rock to dry. ‘Christopher. John. Brown. He said carefully trying to make the words sound as Spanish as possible. ‘My friends and family call me Kit.’
‘You are a long way from your family,’ Fernando said.
‘Yes. London is a very long way away right now,’ he said leaning back on his elbows on the warming pebbles.
‘Tell me about it. What is it like in London?’
Kit gazed up at a heron which flew past to the west, towards Malaga, and wondered if he would ever get that far himself. ‘London is very busy. Very dirty. Very noisy. Cold a lot of the time and often raining. There is new building work everywhere and many people are moving out to the suburbs where they can have a garden,’
‘To grow vegetables,’ said Fernando sagely.
‘Flowers,’ said Kit and smiled.
‘Flowers? They grow flowers? You can’t eat flowers,’ Fernando said. ‘So do they grow their food on the hillsides?’
‘They do things very differently in England,’ Kit said picking his words carefully. ‘Even in other parts of Spain, in the bigger cities.’
‘Like Granada,’ said Fernando. ‘I want to go there one day. I want to go there and work. So is London like Granada?’
Kit held two pebbles in his hand and made like he was weighing them. ‘In some ways. It is a city like London and has a lot of shops and cinemas and restaurants and lots of theatres....’
‘I would love to go to the theatre. That’s my dream....’ and he tailed off and Kit felt responsible for not treading on his young dreams. Fernando indicated the pebble which Kit held in his other had.
‘So... on the other hand?...’ he prompted, eager for information.
‘.... on the other hand... it rains a lot and is cold wet and dreary even in summer!’ and Fernando laughed.
‘I would swap all this sunshine for theatres and cafes and a bit of life.’ he said wistfully.
Fernando lay back onto the beach and stretched like a cat. ‘Oh I don’t know,’ he said and they heard a shout from behind them. He peered through the heat haze and shielded his eyes and saw a woman at the top of the slope which ran down to the beach. She was waving at them.
‘Who’s that?’ he asked and Fernando leaped to his feet as though he had been shot.
‘My sister. I have to go. She watches my back and calls me when I am going to be missed so that I don’t get into trouble.
Kit smiled and felt the lack of a sister to watch his back. ‘That’s good of her,’ he said.
‘She’s my twin, so we have to look out for each other. It’s the only way,’ Fernando said simply and he was already turning to run up the slope towards his sister when he turned back.
‘But I’m the oldest,’ he shouted and laughed and said it loud enough for his sister to hear.