The colour blue

Looking out across the Mediterranean, 2006

Looking out across the Mediterranean, 2006


The tanning technician lowered the lid until it hovered a few centimetres above her skin.

She flicked a switch as Justine adjusted the tiny plastic goggles and patted the paper knickers she was wearing. A warm ultraviolet glow radiated around her.

“As this is your first session, I recommend ten minutes only,” said Kim, a specialist in tanning. “Does Mary have all your paperwork.”

“She does,” said Justine.

“You’ve signed the disclaimer?”

“I have.”

Justine wriggled. The sun-bed was not comfortable. Why did Kim keep asking stupid questions?

“Great,” said Kim. “You relax and I’ll be back in ten. Any problems, press this button.” She placed a small controller in Justine’s hand. “Press it once at an alarm will alert reception.”

Justine nodded.

Ten minutes. Not long. I bet it goes really slowly. Not sure about Kim. That hair is so over-processed. Has she never heard of conditioner? And those nails are way too long. And what an awful colour.

Justine wriggled her toes and circled her feet one at a time.

And why the hell hadn’t Mary told Kim she had my paperwork? Christ. People. So incompetent. Why did Renata recommend here? It seems very low-end for her.

Justine reached the hand that held the controller to brush away a hair that had become stuck to her bottom lip. her thumb slipped and pressed the panic button. The alarm that sounded was so loud she thought her eardrums might burst. She thrust a leg out from under the lid and tried to squeeze her body out from underneath it but she was stuck like a pickle in a sandwich. By the time Kim and Mary had run into the room, Justine was pink with fury, one leg and the controller dangling just above the floor.

“Get me OUT. OF. HERE.”

Kim and Mary looked at each other and started to giggle.

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