Take Me to the Coast

Brian George

Janis worked on the cosmetics counter in Boots.  I watched her dance in Judges Hall.  Her heels threw sparks off the dance floor while strobes jitterbugged across her hair.  

I asked her out, digging my fingernails into the palms of my hand to stop my voice shaking.

‘Take me to the coast,’ she said.

I dreamed I was drowning on the ocean floor.  Janis dived down to take my hand, leading me gently to air and light.  

Next Saturday we stood on Llantrisant Road, the coolest kids on the planet.  Me in my three-buttoned skinhead vest and Wranglers, Janis in her white tee-shirt and purple flares.  She had cadged some shades from her sister, who was at art school.  The lenses were tinted turquoise.  I couldn't see her eyes through them. 

Whenever a car went past, Janis held up the little sign she’d made with felt 

pens and a bit of card.  San Francisco, it said, though we’d already decided 

we’d settle for Porthcawl.  

A white Anglia pulled up.  We piled into the back with our duffle bags.  The

girl in the front passenger seat turned round and smiled.  Her teeth jutted 

out at strange angles, and there was a cold sore at the corner of her mouth.  

Her hair straggled over her eyes, and she kept flicking it up with the back of 

her hand.  She spoke in an American accent.

‘So, you guys are headed for SF?  Too bad Jean-Paul and I are only going as 

far as Porthcawl.  Are you cool with that?’

Janis breathed in through her nose. ‘It’ll do,’ she said.

They dropped us off on the promenade.  The girl stroked my hand as I got 

out of the car.

‘Remember we’re all children of God,’ she said.

I said I’d be sure to remember that.

Me and Janis shared a toffee apple from the fair.  I thought my teeth 

were going to fall out of my mouth.  We rode on the Ghost Train and the 

Interplanetary Voyage.

On the beach we wrapped towels round ourselves to change into our 

costumes.  Janis had a turquoise bikini to match her sunglasses.  I swallowed 


She swam a long way out.  I straggled after her.  I lost sight of her, panicked 

and dived under the water to search.  I felt a hand round my throat, pushing 

me further into the water.  When the hand finally let go I wriggled to the surface, coughed and blew snot out through my nose till I could see more clearly.  A girl in a turquoise bikini was running across the beach.

I found the spot where we’d left our things.  My duffle bag had gone, but 

there was a cardboard sign weighted down with pebbles.  Gone to 

California, it said.

I stood out on the Bridgend Road, waving my thumb at every car that 

passed.  After an hour a white Anglia pulled up.  I said a Hail Mary as I 

walked towards it.

Brian George lives in Pontypool, south Wales, UK. Short stories and flash fiction published in many print and online publications, including Right Hand Pointing, Prick of the Spindle, Everyday Fiction, Battered Suitcase, Decongested Tales, Birmingham Arts Journal, New Welsh Review. One collection of short stories published (Walking the Labyrinth, Stonebridge Books, 2005), another one in the pipeline.


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