From Boulevard Jean Jaures down to Rue Alexandre Mari the moonlight fell on everything, like a painter had dragged his brush, daubing the puddles so the water shimmied. Vieux Nice bustled with tourists and people sat outside cafés sipping espressos and drinking wine at rickety tables. The long queues had diminished from the charcuteries and the flower market had been swept and hosed, its detritus gathered in wet piles. They had walked from the north end of the Promenade de Anglais along Quai de Etats-Unis stopping to lie on the grey pebbled beach and watch the planes bank along the coast towards to airport and now sat at a table beneath a stripy canopy with a bottle of Merlot. Waiters chatted loudly and hurried about them serving the patrons, running up and down sawdust covered steps to the kitchen balancing plates of fish and rice and fluffy slices of lemon meringue pie. The merlot warmed them and made them feel content and they drank it slowly. Above them, the rooftops and the spires somewhat unnoticed in an inky sky hung a red moon.
Through the long windows that opened onto the tree lined street, a cool morning breeze blew gently upon their faces, their bodies warm and entwined beneath a white duvet. They awoke sleepily within minutes of each other and made love slowly and slept some more. Later they sat and ate croissants and ham and cheese and drank coffee in the shady courtyard of the hotel. They fed crumbs to yellow finches that hopped about the floor, grabbing the crumbs boldly and flitting off their little wings flapping madly. The sun was high and the patch of blue above the courtyard was cloudless. They spoke of taking a mini cruise from Nice along the coast to Monaco and back and later walked to the port and waited for a boat. They boarded a yacht with a gaggle of tourists who smiled at them thinking how nice they looked together. They were tanned and happy and it showed. The water splashed their legs and feet as they hung them over the edge of the deck, their arms folded naturally over each other’s on the balustrade. A salty wind blew their hair off their faces and they could feel the sun on their faces and they turned and looked in the direction of the boat towards the horizon. They followed the coast past Antibes and Ville Franche and they pointed to the beautiful villas dotted across the hilltops, the miniature blue rectangles of pools promising decadent, lazy days. They kissed and laughed and pretended the biggest one was theirs and that after the cruise they would go back and swim naked in the pool and lie on the sun loungers and drink cold rose and make love in the sunshine where no one could see them. The boat slowed down and bobbed about in a bay, the anchor was dropped and the tourists stripped to their swimming costumes and jumped and dove into the twinkling waters. They stripped too and jumped in holding hands. Snorkels and goggles were handed down by the crew and they put them on and watched the colourful fish skit about beneath them. Some of the tourists swam over to the beach and wandered up over the rocks and waved back. After a while they clambered back onto the boat and the crew passed around cold beers and they drank them thirstily. They kissed and smiled about the fact they could taste each other’s beery salty lips. The bobbing of the boat and the beer made them drowsy and they lay back on the deck and slept for a while. The engines began to rumble and they sat up to see the bay moving further away. They kissed and looked at each other and they both felt happy and a little sad at the same time. The suffering of happiness they said. Why does it always have to end? Because everything does she said. Everything has a beginning and an end. They looked at the horizon as the water splashed their legs and feet and the bay slipped slowly away behind them.