There was a storm brewing over the Mediterranean as I settled to lunch on a rock wall by the stony beach. Summer market-bought tomatoes and goat cheese on crackers had become my staple midday snack since arriving in the south, something about the heat, the light, the air, demanded fresh and simple foods. I opened my journal, slipped the shoes off my baking feet, and started slicing a tomato.
He appeared in the corner of my eye then, cautious. An older man, a little frayed around the edges and with an air of false bravado hiding a shy curiosity.

I gave him a quick smile and carried on slicing.

Are you traveling alone?” he asked.

I have come here for the day to see my lover. She wanted me to come. But she’s busy now – I’ve come for a walk

She’s always telling me to leave her alone. She’s always busy when I come to see her. But I’m a masochist!

He said it so emphatically that I knew he meant it literally, not the self-indulgent melancholy of a sulking romantic.

You took your shoes off? Are your feet too hot? I like a woman’s feet…and you have…such nice feet

He looked longingly at my feet then, and let out a sigh as heavy as the storm clouds, seemingly not caring that the reality before his was two masses of swollen and calloused flesh, suffering the effects of weeks of summer shoestring backpacking.

I smiled again, and carried on slicing. After all, masochists prefer your indifference. Maybe it was because he didn't seem threatening, maybe it was because I had a sharp 6 inch blade in my hands, but I wasn't especially disconcerted by his presence.

I’m a magician, I can show you

I stopped slicing then, and watched as he deftly plucked the ace of spades out of thin air, from behind my ear, a child’s trick that made me smile again.

I spread the cheese over rye crackers and layered the fresh tomato I'd picked up from the markets, and looked out over the water. I wanted to be alone then, so I picked up my pen to write while I ate. I could see him still, out of the corner of my eye, pulling playing cards out from behind olive leaves and giving me the sidelong glances of a child checking too see if anyone’s watching the performance.

He picked a leaf and approached me, holding his offering out.

This is for you to remember me by, maybe you can write about me in that diary of yours

'Oh, I’ll remember you', I said.

He looked at my feet again then, before he turned to leave, and sighed.

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