It was a Friday like any other; the salty air resisted the rigidity of winter, picking up whatever survived of the humidity slain by December in its trail. The coastal town stood in a fixed point of reminiscence for the liveliness of their summer nights, or, in more honest terms, the money they brought. It may be that the plus-10,000 population of this rustic haven romanticise their existence by default, but if you’re fed cool breeze and crystal blue in place of bitter coffee and fume, there’s no escaping the theatrics.

By the inner borders of the town, overlooking as much blue as possible and feeling as little of it as can be, lived a man of tender nature, hardened by his home town and sweetened by the roads that led him here. They call him the Alpha Senior Citizen, when in fact he only regarded himself a resident, but in romantic coastal views, no one takes personal image into consideration. Alpha Senior Citizen, or Alphie, knew where he stood in the public’s opinion; how highly he soared in the eyes of the teenagers and how lowly he sank in the eyes of their mothers. In his mind a wall is reserved to count the prayers the mothers make for his departure or early demise much like the wall he designated for his countdown until freedom back in the days of the war.

It was as clear as the blue sea why teens, male and female alike, loved Alphie’s presence; his loneliness to them was a living, breathing triumph over societal norms of relationships, familial and otherwise, and in his brown eyes they saw a defiance to their blues and greens; a rebellion so engrained in him that it took biological form. But Alphie was only alone, and merely a resident. Similarly, the clarity of the blue sea was seen in the mothers’ distaste for him. Alphie’s dark eyes only reflected the darkness of his intentions. Alphie’s voice was only this warm because it speaks in the voice of hell. Alphie wants to drive their children away because he doesn’t want to be alone in his loneliness. But Alphie wasn’t lonely, he was only alone, and he was only a resident.

The fathers of the town were the true hopeless romantics. They celebrated the coastal spirit with every new haul out of the waves, and found meaning in all the grains of sand they brought home. And so they took it upon themselves to adorn Alphie with all the adjectives they couldn’t put before their names, and came to the conclusion that Alphie was lonely, and the generosity the sea lent them for the winter got them to pity him. But Alphie wasn’t lonely, he was only alone, and he was only a resident.

On that Friday, the Friday like any other Friday, Alphie wore his Argentinian brown shoes, his embroidered handkerchief, and his knowing smile to the town hall meeting. At least when the sun is down, the town can’t see the blueness of the sea, and subsequently compare his spirit to the colour. It was a shame that he couldn’t wear another smile or at least pack one just in case, because this Friday he knows that his residency wouldn’t matter, and how to the town he’s one and to the nation he’s none, and he knows how easy it is to be beaten when one, and how invincible you are when none.

The wind didn’t change for Alphie, there was no sweetness in the air, and the humidity lurked around his collar. Alphie was a resident, and the blue sea owed nothing for a child of the land. He knew better than to romanticise a geographical lord; instead, he offered his sincerest respect. When Alphie was about to enter the town hall, a child was rushing to get to the town hall before his mother, and in his way broke a little pot of a basil plant decorating the windowsill. Before Alphie could give a knowing smile, the smell of the land from the pot engulfed him in a moment of transfixed reminiscence like that of the town and he was instantly transported to a time when time was homely, and earth was vast.

Alphie looked away, into the sea, but there was no blue to respect and no waves to greet. He looked down at the child and his mother who were now picking up the clay shards, and nodded knowingly. He only had one smile left in him for this town, and he decided to give it to the bitter mothers and the sympathetic fathers through the window with the little tokens of earth on it.

Alphie gave his smile and turned on his heel to earth, to land, to ground, to dirt, dust, and plant. With the concerned fathers and the mothers who were thankful to the sea vapour that carried their prayers to the heavens on his tail, Alphie looked back, lifted his hat in gratitude, then turned and headed back to citizenship, back to where optimism is despair and he’s not allowed to feel it, to where no one holds an opinion of him, where he is none, where he is a part of a system, where his smiles come in shades, where being alone is not a measure of contentment.

Alphie is arriving back, to the homeland.