There are little girls all over the café, mostly about five years old, dressed in bright cotton dresses not that different to those of their mothers. The little girls are sending glittering streams of bubbles off into the breeze to catch the white-hot light of the descending sun. The bubbles drift over the volleyball court and through the players. Two dark and slender Islanders, both with the perfect proportions of models, and a classic sporty Perth girl with dirty blonde hair and a heart of gold. The rest are fifty-something Western Suburbs Dads in fabulous shape with yachting crew cuts. They still adopt that ‘older man’ walk though, shoulders back and leading with the stomach, except they have six packs.
There are two little girls on the beach; one four years old, one four times four years old (well, four times four years old on the inside, twice that on the outside). They are fighting their daily beach fight, the fight for their feet.
They both have very wilful feet.
Isabelle has feet that run away to the circus. They chase her up and down the shore, their imprints in the sand always a mere step behind her own. Sometimes she turns and chases them back along the line of footprints.
One time she ran so fast away from her feet, then so fast after them, that the footprints made pictures in the sand between the waves. One time a circle and one time Isabelle’s heart was on the sand. At four, running around after your feet and leaving you heart on the sand is easy, and unproblematic.
Claire has feet that run off to the sea with each wave, off to swim with the dolphins. As the waves retreat she is left with only her ankles on the sand, motionless until the next wave. Isabelle assures her dolphins eat fish, not feet. Claire’s feet almost always come back.
After luring their feet back from the dolphins and the blank canvas of the sand, Claire and Isabelle sit on the shore to wave at the waves. So close to the siren call of the sea, their feet are held in place and covered with a big pile of sand. The waves try to eat the pile of sand, trying to free their playmates, the feet.
Claire and Isabelle go home with their feet. Another sunset, another win at the beach.
“I bake a chocolate cake that you pour water over while it’s baking and a caramel sauce comes out. I can make that myself, a point of pride with me.”
“He’s so proud of that!”
“Why shouldn’t I be? It’s the Lasagne of Cakes!”
The wind is perfect for keeping the mozzies away, but not so strong as to drive anyone back indoors. The temperature, even at 8 o’clock, with the sun set and wet bathers on, is almost perfect. It’s dinner time on the grass at Floreat Beach.
Next to me are a group of talkative teenagers with one adult chaperone, and I suspect they are some kind of youth group. This group holds the young male cook - I approve of any man who can bake a cake.
On the other side of me are three girls engaged in a Sex and the City (Perth Edition) conversation over fish and chips, with wine. There are lots of older couples having a low-key Dinner Party for six, with sausages.
A family of four, with two teenaged kids, arrive eating icecreams at the end of their beach walk. The young girl has dropped hers and is close to tears, awkwardly obsessed with telling her parents she thought that they would make her eat it anyway, while they repeatedly assure her that they will buy her another one. She does not listen to them, and I am rueful around the madness of being a teenager again.
I would like to stay, but it is going to get cold, and my feet keep wriggling their toes cheekily at the sea.
My Drum’n’Bass DJ neighbour, known also as The Knight in Shining Armani from his epic rescue of me from my toilet with the jammed door, and the follow up Strange Lady in the Afternoon incident, is playing Africa by Toto for the tenth time in a row. That can’t be right …