Danger In Havana – Episode 36

THE air blowing off the sea was exactly what Bryony needed. When you’ve found a new love and then lost it, there’s very little that can make life seem bearable, but a warm night on Havana’s seafront provided a little balm to her aching heart.

She would never know if Mark might have been the one to make her whole again. She’d blown it. She was alone once again.

Anna would soon go off to live her own life, have her own boyfriend, get married one day, have children.

Bryony strolled disconsolately in the sparkling night. Lovers sat on the Malecón wall, hand in hand, their heads nuzzled together. Bright lights blinked across the water, shining in the dark night.

One girl and her boyfriend cuddled their poodle between them, the picture of togetherness. Another girl lay with her head in her boyfriend’s lap as he ran her long raven black hair through his hands like water.

A guy in white jeans and sleeveless white T-shirt, skin caramel coloured like demerara, his biceps strong and prominent, played a trumpet while a group of salseros danced the night away.

Street sellers hawked sweet fried bananas and homemade lemonade from rickety wheeled carts. Hopeful fishermen dipped their rods into the waves.

People were surrounded by friends, relatives, acquaintances, lovers. In this vibrant crazy city no-one seemed to be alone – apart from Bryony.

She wandered aimlessly until she felt she could wander no more. Turning round, she retraced her steps in a daze, wondering where and when her life had got so complicated and all gone so very wrong.

In the crowd of people, she suddenly saw a familiar outline. A tall, white-shirted, broad-shouldered figure, his face serious, his gait determined. Mark.

She looked around for somewhere to escape, somewhere to hide. She didn’t need that complication in her life.

He would confront her, tell her how unreasonable she was, tell her that as a policeman he knew when to keep quiet and when people should be told things.

Assured, confident and practical, he didn’t need raging angry women in his life. What’s more, how could she have betrayed all his help by yelling at him like a banshee?

She turned on her heels and quickened her pace. A sea of people advanced towards her as the night-time crowds on the Malecón reached their zenith. Bryony longed to be swallowed up, to disappear in this collection of people, to get lost and be on her own.

Salsa music bombarded her and a wave suddenly crashed in from the unquiet sea and sprinkled her with salt water. There was a gap in the wall, down on to the rocks which bordered the shore. Small groups were gathered on them, mingling happily with their friends and family, chatting and having fun.

With difficulty, Bryony scrambled over the rocks towards the water. The ocean beckoned, it was closer here, the waves swelling in the blackness.

Someone called to her in Spanish. Were they warning her that it was too rough, that she shouldn’t go any nearer the ocean? She didn’t care, she just wanted the quiet, the darkness, the solitude.

Surely it was better, safer, to be alone, not to be connected to any man?

Men were too complicated. They lied, they pretended to be what they were not, and they died. Without warning. They left you to fend for yourself. Sometimes, even after death they failed you, betrayed you, brought you trouble and pain, haunted your dreams.

Suddenly, Bryony felt her shoulders being grabbed and she was spun round. There before her stood Mark.

Her heart pounded as if the salsa rhythm had invaded her bloodstream. He was glowing with sweat, the taut sinews of his neck and his fine bone structure glowed in the light from the shore. His chest rose and fell from running, from scrambling over the rocks to stop her going further.

“Where on earth do you think you’re going?”

“I don’t know; I don’t know.” She shook her head.

His hands were hot and firm on her shoulders. Her feet were damp from the sea spray, her white cotton skirt clinging to her legs.

“Bryony, please, don’t run like this.”

“Why shouldn’t I? How can I carry on after all that’s happened? How could you do that, Mark, how could you have stayed silent, how could you keep all that stuff from me? I’m not a child.”

“No, no, you’re clearly not that. You’re a woman, a beautiful, lively, brave, wonderful woman. Truly you are.”

Bryony shook her head at the words. It was rubbish. She was weak. He was just saying stuff, anything to make her feel good and yet his words had as much value as a torn-up love letter chucked on the raging sea. And like a letter full of empty sentiments and wild protestations, his words were being eaten up by the sound of the waves, swallowed and sent tumbling to the bottom of the ocean for all they meant.

It was over. They were over.

“I’m not a child and you could, you should, have told me what you knew. You kept things from me, you lied. How could I ever trust you? With Warren lying to me and now you, I can’t trust any man.”

“Oh, Bryony.” Mark held his head, then he raised it and his clear, honest eyes shone with need.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!