8. The Visitor

I was on the same sun lounger, beneath a large umbrella with children’s toys and towels and swimming things strewn around. Day three of me sitting here, thinking and trying to eat something through my misery, while the children played in the kids pool happily for hours.

If I wanted to escape – this was a pretty damn good place to do it. I didn’t have to lift a finger and nothing was too much trouble for the staff to arrange in my five star paradise.

The suite I booked came with a butler, who would knock on the door a few times a day to see if there was anything he could do.

‘Madam, would you like me to run you a bath? Madam, do you need anything ironed? Madam, do you need anything laundered? Madam, have you filled out your breakfast order? Madam, is everything to your satisfaction?’

‘Yes thank you, everything is to my satisfaction’ I say politely, inside thinking ‘except for my lying, cheating, rat of a husband.’

‘No, there are no problems with my suite, thank you’ I say politely thinking, ‘the only problem in this suite is my massively broken heart.’

‘Yes, thank you everything in the resort is wonderful’ I say politely thinking, ‘except for the entire place being occupied by people on honeymoon!’

I had no idea Mauritius was such a popular destination for couples. Holding hands, kissing over bottles of champagne, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. I wasn’t sure how much more of it I could take. And every skinny brunette made me think of Caterina, then of Italy, then my blood would boil and I’d feel angry at the entire country and every person in it. It really was not satisfactory, not at all.

My phone rang, it was my mother in America, she had phoned twice already. I picked it up.

‘Hi Mom, this phone call will be very expensive, we’ve gone away last minute for the half term break. ’

‘Oh, we were wondering when we tried to skype you last night, how lovely honey. Where are you?’

‘In Mauritius.’

‘Mauritius? Is that in Spain?’

‘Umm, no Mom, it’s not in Spain. Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean. East of Madagascar.’ My 70 year old mother’s knowledge of geography clearly needed a refresh.

‘That sounds exotic. When did you get there?’

‘Umm, three days, yes, we left on Friday and arrived on Saturday morning. So it’s Monday today. It’s very beautiful and relaxing.’

‘How fabulous darling! Oh isn’t it great for Tom to take a break from work. Isn’t that fabulous.’

My mother loved Tom. She was so happy when I married him. In many ways, I felt she liked him more than me. He was solid, good with money, worked hard, had an MBA, had his own business. All the things my mother rated.

I on the other hand, didn’t follow all the rules growing up. I’m what my mother used to say a ‘free spirit’ and I’ve followed my heart and emotions and not always followed my head and done what my parents expected. I travelled half the world when I was 30. An age when my parents expected me to have a mortgage and a marriage.

Instead of being settled, which I found quite dull and I still do, I was in Nepal teaching English in a small village high in the Himalayas. And trekking around Indonesia, meeting other travellers and staying with local families. And scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and camping in the rainforest.

I think my parents secretly loved my taste for adventure and were proud of the many things I’d done but they were delighted when I fell in love with Tom and we got engaged. They wanted nothing more than to know their youngest child would have stability and someone to look after her.

There was no way I was ready to tell my parents about Tom’s affair. I just couldn’t say Tom wasn’t with us and why. My parents had put Tom so high on a pedestal. I knew it was a very long way to fall. I couldn’t contemplate how they would take the news.

‘Well this call will cost about $20 a minute as it’s been diverted to Mauritius. Let’s hang up and I’ll skype you Sunday when I’m back in London.’

‘Have a great time darling!’ shouted my parents as I hung up.

I walked over to the children’s pool and sat down in the foot of water, watching the girls paddle in the little spray that shot out of a fountain. They saw me and screamed and came over and started climbing on me. Unconditional love, I thought to myself.

‘Excuse me madam’ came a voice from behind me.

‘I’m sorry to disturb you madam but I have something for you’ said a waiter from the bar.

I looked up to see a silver tray in his hand. I stood up and walked out of the pool.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘This is from a gentleman in the bar.’

On the tray was a folded piece of paper. I was confused. I picked it up and opened it.

Dear Lilly,

I’m in the bar.  I’ve come to Mauritius to tell you I love you. I couldn’t stay in London without you. I have to see you.    

Love, Tom  

OMG, my husband was in the bar?!? I was in shock. Tom had come to Mauritius??

My heart skipped a beat and my stomach did a somersault.

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