Thursday, 5 June 2008
Sophie laughed as she watched the hunched figure of her sister struggling through the Arrivals Hall carrying a huge rucksack on her back.
‘What’s so funny? Ella grumbled, as she bent carefully to kiss her sister, without toppling over under the weight of her luggage.
‘You’ laughed Sophie ‘I’ve just spent the afternoon telling Mum that she won’t need to pack much for your holiday and look at you, you can barely walk under the weight of your bag. You must half of your wardrobe strapped to your back.’
‘Well it bloody feels like it.’ Moaned Ella ’I had a right panic trying to pack for this trip. I wasn’t sure if Mum would expect us to dress up of an evening or if she was planning on going to swanky restaurants while we are in Madrid. So in the end I just crammed in every dress I own.’
‘So I can see. Come on let’s get that rucksack loaded in the car and get you to the villa.’
‘Do you know what I’m really looking forward to? A long relaxing swim, then a large glass of something cold and alcoholic before sitting down to one of Mum’s famous family meals.’
‘I’m sure that can be arranged madam.’ laughed Sophie as she watched Ella struggling to lift her bag into the back of the estate car.
‘Excuse me senorita, can I help you?’
Ella turned and was surprised to see Paolo standing behind her.
‘Hi Paolo, that would be really kind, thank you, as long as I’m not stopping you catching your flight.’
‘No. I’m here to collect my Aunt, she’s been on holiday.’
‘Well luck for us she has’ said Sophie ‘or we’d never have lifted that bag into the car. I think my sister must be planning to take Mum away for two months rather than two weeks.’
‘You are going on holiday with Fliss?’ asked Paolo
‘Yes we are planning to drive up through the mountains and then head north to Madrid.’
‘But you do realise it will be very hot in Madrid at this time of year?’ warned Paolo ‘Madrid is much better to visit in October or November, when it is nearly winter and a lot cooler.’
‘’Oh we won’t have much time for site seeing on this trip. We are going there for a conference and hopefully that will be in a beautiful cool air conditioned hall.’ Ella laughed.
Paolo frowned as he looked Ella’s pale arms ‘Even so you must be very careful on your holiday. Fliss is used to our strong Spanish sun I think, but you are only used to English summers. The air in the mountains is very clean and it would be very easy for you to burn that beautiful English skin.’
Ella blushed as Paolo ran his finger across her pale arm. Glancing at his watch Paolo hurriedly said ‘I’m sorry but I must go. My Aunt’s plane is due to land very soon and I would not like to keep her waiting. It has been very nice to see you both again.’
Sophie stood biting her lip to stop herself from laughing as her sister blushed an even deeper shade of red and flustered as she said ‘Yes, it’s been lovely to see you too and thank you again for your help with my huge rucksack.’
‘You are most welcome’ smiled Paolo ‘ and I hope that we can meet again before you have to go back to England.’
‘I hope so too’ stuttered Ella as she watched him walk across the car park.
‘Ella!’ exploded Sophie in laughter ‘You are such a flirt’
‘Nonsense, I was just being friendly.’
‘Any friendlier and you would have had his trousers off.’
‘Sophie what a terrible thing to say, I’m shocked, I didn’t know you had such a dirty mind.’ Said Ella, as she burst into laughter.
‘Come on let’s get you to the villa before you get the chance to pick up any more strange men.’
‘You have to admit Sophie, Paolo is rather dishy.’
‘I can’t say I’ve ever noticed.’
‘Don’t lie. I’ve seen you looking at him when you think nobody is watching you.’
‘Well maybe just a quick glance when he’s working away on that farm of his.’
‘There’ laughed Ella ‘I knew it and you a happily married woman.’
‘Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean that you can’t look in the cake shop window.’
‘Oh Sophie, you are priceless, where do you get these sayings from?’
‘Mum probably. You’ll have to be careful or you’ll come back off your holiday sounding like her as well. Talking of Mum we’d better get a move on or she’ll be thinking that you’ve missed your plane.’
‘How is Mum?’ asked Ella as they were driving out from the city. ‘I mean is she really doing as well as she says to me or is she just trying to put a brave face on things to stop me worrying about her?’
‘It’s strange really. I’ve always thought that Mum was so dependent on Dad for everything. I suppose because she gave up her job to move out here and I wasn’t really sure what she did with herself all day. I thought that she was living her life in Dad’s shadow.’
‘And isn’t she?’ asked Ella
‘No she isn’t. I suppose I saw the real Mum after Dad had his heart attack. She was so organised and in control. She surprised me.’
‘I was only thinking the same thing the other day.’ agreed Ella, ‘I’ve always thought of Dad as the stronger of the two. He was so confident and successful and Mum seemed to be in his shadow somehow.’
‘Well not any more. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still the same Mum, loves cooking and playing with the girls but now she seems, I don’t know how to describe it, somehow more self assured. It’s as if she’s just realised that she’s still a beautiful woman with a lot of living ahead of her.’
‘Maybe it was the shock of dad’s illness.’ Speculated Ella
‘Or maybe’ said Sophie ‘it was the shock of realising that Dad had been planning to leave her. I don’t know Ella, but she acts now as if nothing would faze her and if you could hear the way that she talks to Dad sometimes, it is so funny, she says exactly what’s on her mind and bugger the consequences. It’s as if she’s saying to him, this is me and I’m not changing for anybody.’
‘Well good for her. It looks like this holiday has come just at the right time for her.’
‘You are going to have a fabulous time sis, just as long as you can find some good looking Spanish men to lug your rucksack around for you.’
With the sun roof open to catch the warm breeze Ella and Sophie giggled as they headed up to the villa and their waiting Mum.