Monday, 9 May 2016

Second Time Around - Holiday Short Story


Second Time Around


“Argh! This bloody card isn’t working again.” I huffed placing the card in and out of the slot and waiting impatiently for the little green light. Nothing. I jiggled the handle hopefully and then in a fit of annoyance kicked the door which resulted in a sore toe and still firmly locked door.

I stormed downstairs flip flops flapping and rushed up to the reception desk feeling stressed and berating myself for ruining the effect of my 2 hour spa session. “Hello madam. How can I help?”

“My card isn’t working again.” I said grumpily.

“I can sort that for you. Room number please.”

“127.” I said briskly refusing to smile.

“One moment.” The receptionist said with a broad smile. Speedily my card was returned. With a muttered thanks I returned to my room clutching the now working key card. Once I had successfully entered the room I sighed and slumped on the bed which I noticed had been tidied by the maid. A few minutes later Marianne arrived “Hey. How was the spa?”

“Lovely. Very relaxing but then I came up here and the card didn’t work again.” I huffed

“Bloody hell that’s about the fourth time.”

“Fifth.” I said raising a perfectly waxed eyebrow

“Oh well don’t let it bother you.”

“Yeah your right. Apart from the card issue the hotel is lovely.” I was in Puerto Pollensa, Majorca with my best friends Marianne, Carly, and Beth. The holiday had been arranged as a result of Carly having a mini breakdown following her 31st birthday and my break up 3 months earlier. Beth had decided we needed to live it up in Magaluf but after much persuasion Marianne and I had convinced her we might be too old for 7 days of Sambuca shots and dancing on bar tops till 4am. We had settled on Puerto Pollensa but said we’d go into Magaluf for one mad night. It had been lovely and I knew I should be feeling far more relaxed but I kept thinking of the holiday I should have been going on. Prior to my break up I had a holiday to Rome booked; I had looked longingly at pictures on websites and poured over reviews on Trip Advisor. I had been looking forward to seeing the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Coliseum. Everyone had been saying Jack might propose and although I wasn’t too bothered about the whole getting married thing I had felt myself getting swept away with the romance of it all. We’d been together for 3 years and had our own little rented flat. We had been talking about buying somewhere and had been for a mortgage appointment and started looking at prospective places. It was Jack that had suggested Rome reasoning we might not be able to afford it after buying our own house. He had been looking forward to it as much as me and I was shocked to the core when he pulled out and ended our relationship. I remember walking into the flat and happily chatting about my day when he said he needed to talk to me. I could tell from his voice it was serious but still had no idea what he was about to say. “I can’t go Jess.” He said his face expressionless

“What? Rome?” I replied feeling confused

“Yeah.”

“Um…Ok. What’s up? Is Matt being an arse about your annual leave again? I thought you’d already booked the time off work.”

“I have I’m going to cancel it. I’m so sorry Jess but I can’t do this anymore.”

“I don’t understand.” I said a cold fear sweeping over me

“Jess I need to move out. I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m not sure I can commit.”

“What’s this about? The house? We don’t need to buy anything. I’m happy here.”

“It’s not just the house. I saw a pregnancy test in your bag a few weeks ago. I know you aren’t pregnant as you’ve had your period.” He said blushing and dropping his gaze, “But it freaked me out. I’m not ready for all this. A house, a baby, and marriage.”

“Whoa! Who said anything about babies and marriage? I think you have got this all out of proportion. The test wasn’t even for me. It was Kelly at work. Let’s just talk about this.”

“I’m sorry Jess. It just made me think. I’m not ready. We’ve been together 3 years and I think it’s just become habit. I just don’t think I love you anymore.”

“What? You’ve realised all this just because you saw a pregnancy test in my bag. This is ridiculous. We can talk about this.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to move out. We can sort out the flat in a week or two.” It was then I noticed a packed holdall and suitcase and my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was all a massive misunderstanding. Over the next few days to my shame, I begged, cried and pleaded but Jack wouldn’t listen. Rome was cancelled as I couldn’t bear the thought of going with anyone other than Jack and I moved out of the flat and into a new place.

The girls were amazing. Listening to me moan, cry and shout. Majorca had restored my spirits but I just felt something was missing. Puerto Pollensa had a lovely Spanish feel and was beautiful. The flight over was quick and problem free. The resort was not overly commercialised although still had a Burger King (I swear Tesco, fast food and coffee chains are taking over the world). The pine walk was stunning and the sea was warmer than the swimming pool and so shallow and clear.

That night I was looking forward to a meal in a restaurant on the sea front and deciding on our plan for Magaluf. Beth had been several times and had already lined up a bar crawl for us and was excited. The calm ambience of Puerto Pollensa didn’t suit her as much as the rest of us although she was mightily impressed with her tan after spending hours lazing on a sun lounger.

The next afternoon we got a coach to Magaluf. As the coach squeezed down tiny side streets my spirits plummeted as I took in the rows of British themed bars advertising English breakfasts and 4 shots for the price of 2. Neon lights assaulted my vision and the shops seemed to contain nothing but inflatables of ALL descriptions, fancy dress outfits, and tat. I wanted to return to Puerto Pollensa immediately but knew Beth was looking forward to it and I was being a miserable cow. She was practically bouncing on her seat as she pointed out numerous bars she’s been to before. As we pulled up outside a generic hotel a group of 18 year old lads jeered and one flashed their arse while the rest laughed and staggered into the road. We got off in the town centre and Beth quickly dragged us into a nearby bar and lined up some shots. “I know you aren’t really looking forward to this but I think it will do you good. Let your hair down and properly chill out. Right down this.” Beth said nudging a drink in my direction. “It’s just one night of madness. You are banned from thinking about Jack, Rome or anything else. Jess you deserve this break. You are an amazing person and Jack is just an idiot.” I smiled and felt my eyes water and sniffed.

“Don’t cry. We all love you and this is going to be the best night ever.” Beth said giving me a squeeze. Marianne and Carly joined in and felt my heart swell.

“Yeah you’re right. Jack is an idiot. Sorry for being a mardy pants. Right bring on the shots.” I said smiling and downed my first drink.

“That’s more like it. Come on let’s go to the next bar.” We headed to Jumpin Jaks, Coco Bongos, Chaplin’s, Linekars, and Mambo’s before ending up at BCM’s on a bucking bronco rodeo bull. I flirted, laughed and drank for hours and enjoyed Magaluf more than I would have imagined. There was noise and people everywhere and I loved the randomness of the drunken conversations. Just before 3am we decided it was time to go home and found a taxi rank. Just as a taxi arrived I heard my name being shouted. “Jess. Hey is that you?” I turned unsure where the voice was coming from. Not seeing anyone I jumped into the taxi and we headed back to our hotel. I sank gratefully into the cool seats and forgot about hearing my name and smiled as the bright lights disappeared and were replaced by countryside.

When we got back to our hotel we all promptly went to bed drunkenly hugging each other and whispering as we tiptoed up the corridor. I awoke in the morning head thumping and with a mouth feeling like sandpaper. “Urgh! I feel terrible.” I said sitting up slowly,

“Me too.” Marianne groaned from under the sheet. “I need water.” I slowly shuffled to the small kitchen and grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge.

“Here. Do you want some paracetamol?”

“Yes please.” Marianne said peeking at me. Her eyes were ringed with mascara. “What did we drink last night? I bet Beth is still feeling fine.”

“Probably. I’ve rarely seen her with a hangover. I think I’ll be fit for nothing today.”

“What was in that last cocktail?” Marianne said as she swigged some more water,

“Everything.” I said laughing softly and holding my head as it pounded

“It was a brilliant night but I feel like death warmed up. Can you imagine how we would feel if we had stayed there all week.” Marianne sat up and moaned. I just shook my head and smiled,

“I’m gonna have a shower and hopefully that will make me feel a bit better. What time is it?”

“Um…10.30am. I’ll text the others while you have a shower. I reckon a big breakfast is in order.”

Two hours later the shower, paracetamol, and breakfast had worked there magic and I felt vaguely human again. A day of topping up the tan stretched ahead as it was nearly the end of the holiday. I felt lighter than I had in weeks as I lay on a sun lounger and closed my eyes. After a snooze and dip in the pool I decided to go upstairs to get my book. “Anyone else want anything? I'm just popping upstairs.” I said wrapping my sarong around me. Everyone vaguely mumbled no and I headed inside. Upstairs to my utter annoyance the card didn’t work again. “Argh!” I screamed before stomping downstairs. “My card isn’t working again.” I said as I thrust the card at the receptionist. It was quickly restored and I took the lift back upstairs. As the doors closed I heard someone call my name.

“Jess. Wait.” But it was too late the doors had closed.  Confused I pressed the button to stop the lift. Who knew my name here? Had I given someone the hotel address last night and forgotten? I racked my brain but drew a blank. God what if it was some weirdo? The lift suddenly juddered and the doors opened about 5 inches. The lift was about 2 foot from the ground. I couldn’t believe it the bloody thing had broken. I quickly jammed a flip flop in the gap worried the door might completely close. The lift felt stuffy and I was beginning to panic.

“Jess. It is you.” An exasperated voice said from below. I looked down and gasped.

“Oh my god! Stephen! What are you doing here?”

“I saw you briefly last night. At the taxi rank. I called you but you didn’t hear me. I couldn’t believe it was you.”

“How did you find me?” I said surprised

“I asked the taxi company where he had dropped you off and came over.”

“What by yourself? Its 70 euros.”

“I know but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Hey are you ok in there?”

“Um…Yeah but it’s kind of hot.”

“I’ll go tell the reception. I’ll be back in a second.” I smiled as memories rushed back. We had been a couple 10 years ago but lost touch. We were together for 2 ½ years but drifted when Stephen went to university. We never argued but just mutually decided it wasn’t working anymore. Our relationship had been full of firsts. He didn't look much different. Maybe a few lines around his eyes and a little stockier. My heart raced as I remembered the effect he used to have on me. I’d often thought about him over the years and had looked on Facebook a couple of times but never found him. I suddenly panicked wondering what I looked like. I was only in a bikini and sarong, no make-up, and hair slicked back in a scruffy bun. I looked in the mirror on the lift wall and tugged lightly at the edge of my sarong.

“The maintenance man is on his way. They said you should be out in 10 minutes max. Here’s a bottle of water.” Stephen said passing it through the gap and smiling. 

“I can’t believe you are here. This is so weird. It’s nice to see you.” I glanced at his hands noticing he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and wondered if he was single. As if reading my mind he said,

“I’m here on a stag do. My brother Ben is getting married. I’ve never settled down though. You?”

“Oh…Um…I’m single too.” I said feeling myself blush, “I was in a relationship for 3 years, but it ended a few months ago. When’s your brother getting married?”

“Eight weeks. Big hotel thing. I saw you were with Beth last night. You two still mates then?”

“Yeah. She’s one of my best friends.” I paused. “This is bizarre. How is your brother then? Has he been stripped naked and tied to a lamppost yet?”

“No although one of his mates Barry did want to do something like that. I’m making sure nothing too bad happens. One of the lads got a tattoo last night his missus is going to go mental when we get home.” He laughed and shook his head. “Ben couldn’t believe I saw you last night.”

“Well it is pretty random. I can’t believe you travelled over here.”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” My heart raced and a big grin spread over my face. “It’s great to see you even if it is through a 5 inch gap.” He laughed again, “Right fill me in on the last 10 years while we are waiting for the maintenance man.” The next 15 minutes passed quickly recapping on the last few years, reminiscing about mutual friends and sixth form stories. We were just starting another story when the light went out. I was plunged into darkness.

“Oh my god!” I said feeling claustrophobic “Where’s the maintenance man?”

“I’ll go speak to reception again.” Stephen said. Within seconds he was back “Its ok. He’s here. He was just coming in the door. You’ll be out in seconds.”

“Good. I’m starting to freak out a little in here.” The maintenance man unscrewed a panel and pressed some buttons and the lift suddenly moved and the doors pinged wide open. I ran out relieved and straight into Stephen arms. He kissed me on the forehead and smiled.

“It’s amazing to see you Jess.” My heart fluttered as Stephen stroked my arm. I hadn’t felt that in years. Even with Jack. Maybe Jack had been right our relationship had become habit. We went outside and I quickly filled the girls in as Stephen headed to the bar.

“I can’t believe none of you came to look for me.” I said playfully swatting Carly’s arm “I’ve been gone about half hour.”

“We thought maybe you’d decided to have a nap.” Carly said smiling

 “Yeah we didn’t realise you were stuck in a lift catching up with an old boyfriend.” Beth said grinning.

 “Jess you are blushing.” Marianne said

“He’s got better with age.” Beth said slipping her sunglasses off and peering at Stephen over by the bar. “You should definitely get his number.” Beth continued “You two definitely still have some chemistry.”

“Yep. He can’t stop staring at you.” Carly said nudging my arm.

“Well…It’s a bit weird but I do like him.” I said smiling

“Oh my god! This is so exciting. I can’t believe you’ve met your childhood sweetheart on a random holiday in Majorca.” Marianne said laughing. I was just about to reply when Stephen appeared with a tray of drinks. We spent the next two hours chatting, laughing, and drinking and for the first time in months I felt 100% happy. Stephen was getting another round of drinks when he beckoned me over.

“I’ve got to head back. We have this stag thing organised for tonight. I’ve got to go but I really want to see you again. Can I have your number? We could meet up back home.”

“Yeah I’d love too. We’re leaving tomorrow anyway. When are you home?”

“We’ve got two days although I reckon I’ll need another holiday after to get over this. I’m definitely not a teenager anymore.” He grinned and kissed me. “Right I’ve got to go. The lads are getting restless. I’ve had 3 texts.”

We exchanged numbers and I waved as he left in another taxi. Beth appeared next to me smiling “Must be love. He’s spent 140 euro’s in taxi fares just to see you.” She hugged me tight “It’s so nice to see you happy again. Now come on. Let’s get glammed up and enjoy our last meal in Puerto Pollensa. I fancy that fish restaurant near the harbour. The waiter is gorgeous.”

Eight weeks later and I was putting my earrings in. “Do I look ok?” I said turning around. “We’re going to be late.”

“You look amazing and don’t worry we have plenty of time.” Stephen said gently taking my hand and kissing me. I marvelled at the ring shining on my left hand. I heard a beep and looked out of the window. The car was here. I saw Ben waving and looking slightly nervous. He looked great in his wedding suit and the weather was perfect. “Right come on let’s go.”

 “Maybe the next wedding will be ours. What do you reckon to Majorca?” Stephen said grinning and opening the door.