Family Portrait (Krabi)

It’s nearly noon when I roll up my mat and emerge from the overhanging rock’s retreating shadow into the brilliance of the mid-day sun.  Sasha is stretched at the water’s edge, a dramatic streak of honeyed brown painted on the white arc of sand, face up to the clear blue sky, nodding away to whatever is playing into her ears.  I nudge her with my toe.  “I’m done.  I’m going to head up to the bar.”  She gives me a grin and shouts over the music I can’t hear, “Cool! I’ll be up in a bit!”

The Swedes are already lounging on the huge throw pillows piled at the edge of the deck joking in their incomprehensible language.  I vault Anton’s legs to claim the cushion between them and lean over to kiss their cheeks good morning.  “How is everyone today?”  Anton gives offers me some of his coffee with a sage nod, while Freddy leans across to snatch the cigarette packet off his stomach.
“Were you doing yoga already?”
“I was up at nine.”  They both stop to stare at me.
“We didn’t go to bed til seven!”
I shrug, “I was wide awake so I figured I might as well just get up.  How long have you guys been awake?” Anton laughs.
“Ten minutes?”
“Kids today… So lazy…” I’m attacked by protesting nudges on one side and playful pokes on the other until I throw up my hands in giggling surrender.
“You’ll be tired later.”
“Where is everyone?”
“Sasha’s on the beach getting some sun.  Gail was going to do the walk to the lagoon this morning but she was still asleep when I left.”
“And the Spaniards?”
“They booked a guide this morning so they’ll be climbing til one I think.  What are we doing today?”
Anton takes a long drag on his cigarette and exhales triumphantly, “Kayaking.”
“Oooooh, good call.”

I’m learning truly useless phrases in Swedish when Sasha appears clicking her fingers to the music in her head.  Her white teeth flash as she smiles at us in turn.  “I’m restless!  What’s the plan?”  She looks at Anton.
“Kayaking.”
“Sweet!  I’m going to do a lap.  Maybe get a shake.  Anybody want?”  From our nearly horizontal position Anton and I pass but Freddy rolls onto his side and looks up at her.
“Yeaaaaaaah.  Banana?”
“Coolio.” She lopes off stopping to hug Kyle and say hello to the bartender before she spies Nathan on the corner and skips over to ask him a question.  We hear her detour into the corner shop before the door closes on her chat with the shop keeper and her voice disappears.  Gail strides up, sticky and flushed a few minutes later to a chorus of hellos.
“How was the lagoon?”
“Awesome!  You guys should definitely check it out.”
“We should do that.” Anton looks across at Freddy and me.
“I want to.  I’m just not sure exactly where it is…”  Freddy nods in agreement.  Anton takes a drag on my cigarette and fixes his eyes on the ceiling.  The pronouncement is made in a curl of smoke.
“Wednesday.”
“What’s happening now?”
“Kayaking?”
“When?”
“We’re waiting to see if the Spaniards want to come.”
“I just saw them.  They’re on their way back.  Do I have time to grab a shower and my suit?”
“Of course.”  Sasha swings back around the corner and immediately gives Gail a squeeze.  They’re already deep in conversation as she hands Freddy his shake.
“Hola amigos!”
“Heeeeeeeeeeey!”
“How was climbing?” Freddy reaches up to clasp hands with Jorge.
“Fucking good.”
“I told you Nan is awesome!”
Antonio nudges me, “When are we going climbing together?”
“Wednesday?”
“Lagoon Wednesday,” Anton interjects.
“What’re you guys doing?”
“Waiting for you!  Kayaking?”
Jorge looks at Antonio.  “I think we’re going to do some bouldering.”
“I want to practice some technique.”
“Meet you here for sunset?”

The Spaniards have already claimed the best sunset viewing spot on the deck when we pull the kayaks back to shore.  The horizon is molten gold under a blanket of voluptous pink clouds.  Everyone claims a cushion and turns toward the water as Anton vaults over the side handing everyone their change.
“How much do I owe?”
“Freddy paid for you.”
“Why did you pay for me?”
“I owed you for the rum last night.”
“No one owes me for rum.”
“Forget it.  It’ll work itself out.”
“How was bouldering?”
“Good.  Now I need a massage.”  Everyone looks at Gail who throws up her hands laughing.
“I’m on holiday!”
“The lady at the end of the beach is really good.”
“Who’s coming to Muy Thai tonight?” Sasha does a high kick in demonstration.
“Where is it?”
“Anton knows.”
I wrinkle my nose, “Blech, I don’t do blood sport.  Plus I need some sleep.”
“What are we doing tomorrow?”
“Deep water solo.  Meet at the bar at 9.”
“When did you do that?”
“Just now while I was sorting out the kayaks.”
“I thought you girls were leaving tomorrow.”  Sasha and I catch eyes and grin.  Gail rolls her eyes.
“We’ve decided to stay til Friday.”  A wave of amusement swells around us.
“Ha!  I knew you would!”
“That just leaves you two! Friday boat to Koh Phagnan, Saturday full moon party! You know you want to come with us….”  Anton points his beer bottle at Antonio who holds up his hands.
“Talk to him, man!”  Everyone looks at Jorge.
“Hey, I never said nothing!  We’ll talk…”  A contented quiet falls as the darkness solidifies in the sky above and starts to descend.  The last technicolour flash fades from the horizon and the dusk settles turning sun-kissed skin shades of navy blue.  Gail and the Spaniards drift away in search of massage.  Sasha and the Swedes head back to change before Muy Thai.  I’m finishing my beer and watching the stars when Josh wanders up and persuades me to stay for another drink.  Somehow it’s nearly ten.  Last night’s lack of sleep is heavy on my eyelids as I stand and say good night.
“You’re turning in?  I figured you were waiting for your crew.”
“They’ve already headed out.  Muy Thai and massages.”
“You didn’t want to go?”
“I need to get some sleep…”  In the dark, the smile on my lips feels like a secret, like a joke only we share.  “We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”

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