Thursday, 31 January 2008

Episode 8 - The Sandy Cove

What a way to spend a Saturday morning, sitting at the kitchen table with only Michael for company. We’ve been drawing up a list of all the food that we’ll need to buy for the summer fete, hardly the most exciting way to start the day. That must sound really mean, especially as the poor soul has been on his own this week, Sonny is in Barcelona visiting some friends and I think I’m the only person Michael’s seen since Thursday.

‘Didn’t you fancy a trip to the city’ I ask him as we clear away the paperwork.

‘No, no too hot and noisy for me’ Michael says rather primly as he fastens the straps around his shoulder bag. ‘And besides which we are far too busy organising the fete to have the time to go gallivanting around’

It might be because he is the older but I have always thought of Michael as stronger than Sonny, but seeing him standing here in my kitchen, I feel sorry for him. He looks, I don’t know, vulnerable somehow.

‘Would you like to stay for lunch’ I ask, ‘it’s only something light, but you are more than welcome’

‘No, no must get going’ said Michael as he makes his way into the hall. ‘I promised Malcolm that I would report back to him after our meeting, but thank you all the same’

Watching him walk down the hill towards Los Vista I am secretly relieved that he turned down the offer. Martin and I need to clear the air. He was fast asleep when I finally went to bed last night. Lying beside him I felt so guilty about getting upset about supper but even guiltier for thinking of Paolo.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Martin has had a hard week and is tired, so why do I have to be such a bitch and feel sorry for myself?

As I walk into the study Martin is still sitting at the computer. He hasn’t moved from his desk all morning.

‘Are you ready for lunch darling?’ I ask standing behind his chair and putting my arms around his shoulders.

Martin hurriedly closed down the screen he is working on ‘Bring it in here will you, I am expecting a fax from Clifford that I’ll need to deal with as soon as it arrives’

Gently I swivel his chair around so that he is looking at me ‘You need a break, can’t we have lunch together?’

‘What part of ‘I’m busy’ don’t you understand’ he snaps as he turns back to the blank screen

I don’t want to cry again and fighting back the tears, I walk slowly out of the study and across into the kitchen. Getting the olives and cheese from the fridge I set the tray with Martin’s lunch and carry it back to his desk. I can feel my face flushed with anger as I slowly move some papers aside and put the tray down in front of him. Walking out of his study, I turn around at the door and call back with a fury that has been building since I met him at the airport last night

‘I hope it chokes you’

The car keys are lying on the hall table and before I know it I have taken the car out of the garage and I’m driving down the valley towards the coast.

At this time of the year the main beaches are packed with holiday makers but crowds are the last thing I want right now. I drive further along the coast to the little bays where only the locals venture. My favourite has a small cantina set at the far end of the sandy beach.

When we first moved over to Spain Martin and I used to spend most weekends exploring the coast down towards Gandia. In those days he had time for me, time for us.

There is only one other car as I pull into the car park by the beach and as I get out of the car I take off my shoes to walk barefoot along the golden sand.

Strolling along the waters edge I can’t believe how angry I still am with Martin. Angry with him for making me feel so sad, angry with him for making me feel so useless. All I wanted was to spend some time with him and all he has done since coming home is avoid me. Are things really so bad between us that he can’t bear to be in the same room as me?

At the cantina there is a table with two chairs set under a parasol. I buy myself a beer and sit watching a mother playing with her children further down the beach.

Looking at the family reminds me of when our girls were little. Every year, we would rent a cottage by the sea in Cornwall for the summer. Martin was working in London during the week and the girls and I would collect him from the Paddington train on a Friday night. They were so exited to see him and would chatter away in the car, telling him of all our adventures that week.

If the weather was fine we would spend the weekend, sailing, or letting the girls’ fish for crabs from the harbour wall. On rainy days we would drive up to Truro and take them to the cinema. Most Saturday evenings were spent in a little country pub having supper and planning our next weekend with Daddy.

So when did everything change, was it when the girl’s grew up? No, we were still happy, Martin and I, making plans for this big move. Setting up a new home together, looking forward to the girls visiting us and bring the grandchildren out for holidays in the sun.

When was it that then that our lives became so serious and Martin’s work became more important to him than spending time with me?

‘It is a good day to look at the sea’

I jump as I turn around to see Paolo standing at the back of the cantina

‘Paolo, what the hell are you doing here?’

Paolo just smiles and sits down next to me.

‘I am delivering salad to the cook’

My heart is racing as I stammer ‘I’m sorry I shouted but I didn’t see you there. I thought that I was alone’

‘Do you want to be alone?’ He asks looking puzzled.

‘No, I suppose not really, I just needed some space’

‘Space?’ questions Paolo sitting down in the shade beside me ‘space for what’

‘Oh it’s nothing, ignore me, I’m just feeling sorry for myself.’

Paolo sits forward and reaches across the table to touch my hand. ‘Poor Fliss, you look so lonely. I am going fishing soon, would you like to come with me?’

I feel his finger entwined with mine ‘where do you go fishing?’ I ask him feeling breathless as my heart pounds in my chest.

‘My brother has lent me his boat for the afternoon, it is there’ he says pointing to a small fishing boat tied to the wooden jetty at the end of the beach

As I look into his eyes I remember the star filled sky last night.

‘Thank you’ I say, looking at his hand still gently holding onto mine.

‘That would be lovely’