The Basque Coast was by all means beautiful to Georges, yet the place he really dreamt of, the location where many a reverie would take place, was Greece. Greece would be the perfect backdrop for Alexandre Motier, where he could envision the boy clothed in fine traditional robes of the purest cotton, a crown of vines sat atop his head as the smoldering sunshine played with his golden tresses and highlighted tawny eyes. As Father De Trennes once said, Greece was perfection; where the sea met the sky in genuine harmony.
After getting to their luxury hotel on par with the Ritz, checking in, and unpacking, the boys decided that they would visit the beach right away for the weather was at its hottest all summer. It was so sultry that on the long drive down to the seaside resort, both boys watched as the road ahead appeared to ripple behind a shimmery mirage. Whenever they got within a few metres of what appeared to be a watery surface, the mirage effect vanished beneath the car completely. Sweat beaded on Alexandre’s forehead as soon as he stepped out into the sweltering summer sunshine, and it was he who suggested they visit the beach. As they had only just arrived an hour ago, the De Sarre parents had to decline the offer, for they had to introduce themselves to the other ladies and gentlemen in the resort club, otherwise they would be seen for the next week as antisocial and introverted. Yet after thinking about it, allowed the two boys to set off alone, just as long as Georges was in charge of the duo. Naturally, the boys were thrilled.
In the room that the two shared, they both stripped off their sober, solemn apparel and emerged from the hotel lobby sporting swimming trunks; Georges’ red with embroidered initials, Alexandre’s navy blue and cut off mid-thigh. Memories of the stream that Saint Claude often visited was fresh in both minds. The flush on Alexandre’s cheeks at the sight of Georges watching him from afar was endearing, and the sparkle of daylight on the golden crucifix around his slender neck made his heart skip a beat. Despite being close, Georges and Alexandre often stayed apart on the days where the school would go to bathe in the pure waters. Apart from the day where Alexandre tossed a flower over his shoulder to his peer on the way back to school (talking to him directly would be too risky), they had never bathed together in the stream nor the sea, and the impish grin on Alexandre’s face was enough for the eldest boy to know he had been looking forward to it all summer.
Wading eagerly into the aquamarine waters, the two splashed about and frolicked into the sea as far as they dared to go. Not too far out to sea, and not too close to the shore either. The spot of sea that they had chosen was warmed directly from the sun and fell up to about the middle of Georges’ chest. Surprisingly, not many people were about on the fine day to enjoy the private beach, so in total there were only about fifteen people there, including Georges and Alexandre. Georges knew where they were hiding alright. They were in the ladies and gentleman’s club, smoking, playing snooker, socialising, flirting, and listening to the swing music that was so popular this summer with the De Sarres.
‘Do you remember when I asked you if we could exchange swimming trunks this summer?’ Alexandre said out of the blue, causing Georges to start and give him his complete attention.
‘Yes,’ he answered, sounding cautious. ‘Do you still want to do that?’ There was a slight tremor in his voice that he wished he had disguised better.
Alexandre smiled innocently and reached out to touch Georges’ arm, ‘No. Not today.’
The eldest boy relaxed visibly. ‘Ah, very well.’
Instead of splashing each other and playing like they planned, the youngest continued to gaze at Georges with a sentimental look across his face. Carefully he paddled closer to his friend until they were less than a couple of feet away. Wrapping his arms amorously around his neck, Alexandre waded closer still until they were chest to chest. Georges could feel his heart drumming fast just next to his own, and swung his arm around his waist. Closing his eyes, the youngest boy placed a single kiss onto Georges’ cheek, lingering slightly to smell the sea salt and sea breeze that clung to his skin, and feel the warmth of the sun on his companion’s face. Pulling away and fluttering his eyes open, a smile that wouldn’t look amiss on an angel graced his features, before turning to an expression of coyness as Georges kissed him in return.
Together they surfaced from the body of water and stepped out onto the golden sand. By now, most of the couples on the beach had gone inside for their luncheon, yet the boys would rather not take any chances. Deciding on a desolate corner of the resort hidden by several palms, rocks and small pools of sea life to hide them from the prying eye, the two sat down in the sand together on top of their towels. As the sun blazed down on their bodies, they sat in reserved, peaceful silence, listening to the seagulls cry overhead, and the faint music in the background.‘Why don’t we take some photographs with my Kodak? It’s in the hotel room, so I could run and get it now so we’ll have memories of this first day we spent together.’
Slightly put out, Alexandre answered with a brief, sullen, ‘why not?’
He hugged his knees to his chest and waited patiently for Georges to come back. Five minutes later, he returned, Kodak camera in hand. The chunky black metal contraption had a fair weight to it, and had leather billows forming a tight seal between lens and film. Brightened by the nickel plated parts of the camera glinting harshly in the sunshine, the Kodak appeared wildly new and advanced to Alexandre. He hoped his friend wouldn’t ask him to take photos with it, for he had never operated a camera before, especially one as modern and state-of-the-art as this one!
Thankfully, he simply was directed to sit as still and as naturally as possible, watching the waves in the distance as he had his picture taken. Next, he was told to hug his knees to his chest and smile towards the camera. After the second, third, and forth photograph was snapped up, he was told to lie against the towel although he were sunbathing. A broad grin spread across his face as this shot was taken, immortalising his cheerful features in grainy black and white.
Georges promised himself that he would purchase a photo album as soon as he got home, and vowed that he would fill it to the brim with a collection of Alexandre Motier’s angel face and seraphic smile.
He rose his head from the towel, noticing that somebody new was entering the beach. Quickly, he shot up like a jack-in-the-box, and pointed the man out to Georges.
‘Somebody’s coming,’ he whispered quietly, appearing apprehensive. ‘You should stop taking photos of me, it may arouse his suspicions…’
The man walked past with his beach towel under his arm, and paused when he noticed that Georges held a camera.
‘Oh, you have a Kodak?’ he said, surprised. ‘They’re rather great for taking photos of the family, aren’t they? Would you like me to take a picture of you and your brother?’
He didn’t seem to suspect the two of anything unsavoury or peculiar in the slightest, and appeared happy to help. By the sounds of it, he was an English tourist to the Basque Coast, as his accent had a strong British clang to it.
‘Oh, yes. Why, thank you,’ Georges said, the sinking feeling in his stomach vanishing.
He stood closer to his friend — as close as he would dare — and rested an amiable hand on his shoulder. The two beamed into the camera and the photo was taken.