Happenstance: fluke, fate, chance, incident, luck, accident, fortuity, coincidence.
The woman was exercising in the middle of the beach, headphones on, her body bending and unbending with a series of punishing routines.
Alone in the middle of the beach just by the side of an ancient cedar washed down two months ago by the floods and half submerged on the sand, looking like the upraised arms and legs of a long forgotten yet perfectly preserved corpse.
I’m heading south.
And here’s Geoff heading north, coming my way, his gait unmistakable. Bones betray, hips lose their synchronous rhythms. Sand is the betrayer of steadfast purpose when an old man looks back on his footprints.
How we wander from the straight path.
Now she rests her forehead on one knee, both arms upraised.
Then she turns and bends, both hands flat on the sand, buttocks – lycra clad – pertly raised to the emerging sun, which barely blinks.
Geoff and I are now only yards apart from both her and each other.
The beach is deserted but for us. The three of us. Him, her and me.
We stop as we always do, Geoff and I, just for a moment’s chat, and now there is this woman writhing her way through an excruciating series of exercises. Just over there.
‘You know,’ says Geoff, ‘ If I was to wake a minute earlier this morning, had a cup of tea then come down here this wouldn’t be happening.’
Geoff inclines his head to the woman behind us.
‘I’d be halfway down the beach and you’d be half way up and this sheila wouldn’t have both of us stopped in the middle thinking we’re looking at her like a couple of old pervs.’