(N.B.: This is a short short story that I wrote in 1988, as a school assignment. I am now the age Joan was, when I wrote it.)
Concerning the Turkish alphabet: You will notice the name of the beach has a funny-looking letter, ç which is pronounced ch; the ʂ has the same mark, and is pronounced sh. The name of the beach is pronounced Cheshme, and it is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, bar none.
Joan can’t go camping without telling the story of Arif, and çeʂme beach and the day she sat on the anchor.
Arif was a purple Turk, always outdoors, and so tanned that his skin looked like almost-ripe Concord grapes. He wasn’t handsome in the classic sense of the word, but even I, who was only eight years old on the day Joan sat on the anchor, remember him as dashing, romantic, mysterious. He seemed always to be there, wherever we went, gesturing grandly as he showed us his country, teaching us of Ataturk and Anatolia, and showing us how to catch fish with spears and carry them back to the beach in the bottoms of out bathing suits.
Arif loved Joan. He never told her, except that he did every time he looked at her. Instead, he adopted us children as “nieces and nephew” and poured out his grand passion into us, our curious and open minds.
On the day when Joan sat of the anchor, Dad was away on a long flight, and Arif was acting as surrogate father to us. We were camping at çeʂme beach,
and it was the time of fig-tree naps. (Joan would point at the fig tree near the beach, and we would climb into its branches or find a spot in its shade, and give her two uninterrupted hours of peace.) After seeing us safely into the tree, and up to our elbows in figs, Arif asked Joan if she would like to go out in the boat. This was not unusual, and neither of them expected anything different from any other day. They pushed the boat out into the bay, started the motor, and were soon only barely visible near the western end of the shoreline.
Arif stopped the motor and looked longingly at Joan, knowing that he should tell her of his love, knowing that he couldn’t. Instead, as so often before, he reached for her hand.
This time, Joan stood, and came to him as smoothly as the water flowing by the sides of the boat. He opened his arms to hold her, accidentally hitting her shoulder and knocking her over. Joan sat heavily on a sharp, rusty anchor, which impaled itself so deeply in her butt that she had no choice but to lie on her side in the bottom of the boat while Arif sped for the shore, the ambulance, the real world, and the sure knowledge that his undying love for Joan had touched her in a completely new way.
Joan can’t go camping without telling the story of Arif and çeʂme beach and the day she sat on the anchor.
“It was so hot that day that Arif and I couldn’t stand to be on shore another minute. Your father was on a flight, and you kids were taking fig-tree naps. We threw some Tuborg in the cooler, hopped in the boat, and headed out into the bay. I stood up to get a beer, just as Arif swerved to avoid some imaginary rock in the water. I lost my balance and sat down on the anchor — couldn’t sit down for a week afterwards. I was so angry with Arif that, if it weren’t for the anchor holding me down, I would have throttled him!”
Joan always pauses at this moment in the story, seeing çeʂme beach and the purple Turk. “Such a good friend,” she sighs. “I wish he would call.”