Elena told Mel that in the late afternoons, when lessons were over, she was welcome to use the family beach tent. About two hundred yellow and cream-striped awnings lined the two-acre strip of beach. Alone in the tent, Mel selected a chair. There were two sun loungers, two reclining deck chairs and two basic, upright deck chairs. Mindful of her place, she chose one of the basic deck chairs. She pulled it as far away across the sand from the family tent as was possible while still clearly belonging to this particular tent and not encroaching on one of the others. She put on her white-ribboned hat and got out her book. Behind the yellow-framed changing huts and the white stucco of the beach club rose palms and beyond those, mountains. Pink bougainvillea trailed over the yellow of the changing huts. In the other direction, white slatted pathways led towards the sea. A woman walked past the beach tent along one of these pathways. Beneath her bikini, she wore high heels. Slender children gambolled on the sand between the tents in little gangs. They were uniformly long-limbed and golden in colour. Their mothers and grandparents sat more sedately within their tents, some of their fathers engaged in a lively game of beach volley-ball. The fathers had the bodies of Italian footballers. The mothers were voluptuous and tanned. The grandmothers’ presumably once equally magnificent bodies were encased in richly-patterned designer fabrics. Pucci. The grandfathers, mahogany-coloured, let it all hang out. Mel had never found herself within such a stark display of social eugenics. Descend the mountain, part the pink trailing blossoms and behold, a fantasia of the ubermensch. Elena’s husband entered the tent. His rug of chest hair was matted from the water but he took to it with his towel. He nodded in Mel’s direction and then stretched out on a lounger in the sun. After about five minutes he picked up a ring-binder file lying by his side in the sand. The spine of the ring-binder was embossed with a corporate font: Alenta Pharmaceuticals.
Fotografie Neven Allgeier
Text Sarah Thomas