The Space Between Two Thoughts
by David Walker
PHILLY……… PHILLEEY… ..PHILLEEEY……. PHILLEEEEEEEEY. A wave of embarrassment washes over me as my husband’s attempt to attract my attention echoes around the Hotel Girasol’s terrace. My name is Phillipa, sometimes Pip, Pippa as a teenager but Philly, never!
Tom first called me Philly when he introduced me to Saskia at the airport. When he carried on doing it after I asked him to stop, I decided my only option was to fight back. For example, when he called me Philly during dinner last night, I ‘accidentally’ nudged his arm making him spill his wine.
This morning I have chosen to ignore him by pretending to be asleep. If he wants me, he will have to come to me. Bending down, he taps me hard on my head and bawls, “Hello Philly. This is Major Tom to ground control. We have a communication problem.” I make one final attempt to delay answering him by slowly opening my eyes, yawning, and stretching. Only then do I look up. He was looking daggers at me. Smiling sweetly, I say. “Oh, it’s you Tom darling. Sorry, I must have dozed off. Do you want me…?”
“Don’t be stupid Philly,” he snarled, “of course I want you. Saskia is going to have a smoothie, so I was ringing to see if you would like one. If your phone had been switched on, I would not have had to waste time walking over…..”
I interrupted. “A smoothie? No thank you.” I patted my tummy, “If I have anything else I will have to move up a dress size and that would never do, would it darling?”
Tom pointedly transferred his gaze from me to Saskia who was climbing out of the pool. Rivulets of water shimmered in the sun as they coursed down her finely honed golden torso and long thoroughbred legs. Call me jealous if you want, but if I had had a pound for every time she had gone into ecstasies over her personalised diet and exercise regime, I could afford to stay at the Girasol for another month.
To emphasise her tan, Saskia had opted for a Lime Green bikini, we’d already seen the brilliant white one and a lemon yellow one. She called them bikinis, but I reckoned minikinis would be more apt.
Anyway, after making great play of comparing our two figures, Tom left muttering sarcastically, “Most definitely not Philly.”
It had been Tom’s idea that we go on holiday with Andrew and Saskia when the couple they’d originally planned to travel with dropped out. He first met Andrew 18 months ago at the golf club and had regularly partnered up. With the flights and hotel already booked, Tom was all for it, but I had protested strongly. I like Andrew very much I said, but I have never met Saskia, and if I am honest, from what I have heard, given the choice of wrestling alligators or spending two weeks with her, I would opt for the alligators.
I had been in Andrew’s company on two occasions and we had found we were kindred spirits. The first was nine months ago at the golf club’s annual awards dinner. When Tom introduced me, I had held out my hand, but instead of shaking it, Andrew raised it to his lips and after gently planting a kiss, murmured, “My word Phillipa, I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is meeting you. I just hope Tom realises what a lucky chap he is having you for his wife.” Tom merely shrugged.
While Tom was off glad-handing members, canvassing support for his captain nomination Andrew had seen me sitting alone and came over holding two glasses of champagne. “It seems that you and I are destined to keep one another company tonight Phillipa” he chuckled lowering himself onto the couch beside me. During our conversation I had asked where Saskia was.
Andrew had given a rueful smile. “I am sure you will be more than familiar with the phrase, golf widow, Phillipa” he said, nodding towards Tom. “Well, I am a career widower. Saskia works for a major advertising agency in the city. Don’t tell her I told you, but she was christened Sandra. She says the advertising world is all about image and impact, and a modern name looks better on her business cards. She is a workaholic, and her career takes precedence over everything. She promised hand on heart she would be here tonight, but this afternoon she sent me a text saying that her boss wanted her to fly up to Manchester with him. It appears a major client wants to discuss an advertising campaign for a new product. So, once again Phillipa, I am ‘Mr. All on my own.’”
“Oh Andrew, that is awful.” I sympathised, “But what about family? I mean, do you have children?”
Andrew shook his head. “No, I would love a family but we had only been married for 12 months when Sandra landed this job, and from day one, she made it abundantly clear that nothing was going to stop her, she was going right to the top. In fact, Phillipa, I am going to tell you something in strict confidence. Sandra and I have identical iPhones and one day she mistakenly took mine. It was annoying enough that my work was interrupted every few minutes by having to relay her calls, but what made it even worse was the one I took from a private clinic. They were ringing to confirm that she would be keeping her appointment for an abortion! When I challenged her about it, I was left in no doubt that having babies was not part of her plan. In fact, she went further by saying she was so determined not to jeopardise her career by getting pregnant that she had even considered being sterilised.”
I wanted to tell him that Tom could also match her when it came to being selfish and not wanting children but he looked so sad that I did not want to burden him with my troubles. The second time we met was a week later when we bumped into one another as I came out of the hairdressers. He was in town for a meeting that had just been postponed and rather than go home and eat on his lonesome he said, he had decided to have lunch at the Claremont Hotel. Now that fate had brought us together, would I like to join him, my answer was a resounding yes. I was smitten with Andrew from the very first moment we met. Six feet tall, with broad shoulders, thick black curly hair, twinkling blue eyes and infectious grin, he made my stomach turn somersaults.
Almost from the moment the taxi had dropped us off at the hotel, Tom and Saskia had behaved like love struck teenagers. Andrew and I were left to keep each other company as they larked around in the pool, strolled on the beach or went surfboarding. There had been several half-hearted invitations to join them, it was obvious we were not expected to take them up. So, it was no surprise when Tom only booked two tickets for a day of boat rides and island hopping.
They left and we stayed at the hotel. When I took my sunscreen out of my bag, Andrew leaned towards me, the smell of his Givenchy aftershave filling my nostrils as he took the bottle. “Allow me Phillipa” he said. “It will be much better if I did it. We don’t want to miss anywhere, do we?” I unclipped my bikini top and as he eased the straps off my shoulders a tremor ran through my body. It was a sensation I had not experienced for a long, long time.
His hands trembled as he squeezed the bottle of Ambre Solaire and a more than generous amount of the oleaginous liquid splashed onto my shoulder. “Oops, double sorry,” he said, as in a flurry of activity to stop the sunscreen streaming downwards, his hand stroked my breast. Before he could withdraw it, I took it in mine and held it there. As I hoped, he read my thoughts. “Er, er, I was er wondering Phillipa,” he said hesitantly, “while Tom and Saskia are away, do you think that we might…” He paused, and I saw his eyes drift up in the direction of our hotel rooms. The tremor that ran through my body this time would have registered on the Richter scale. I lifted his hand to my lips and kissed it. “Oh Andrew, I thought you would never ask. Why has it taken you so long?”
“Because my darling Phillipa,” he replied, “I thought that if I did, I might lose you, and that would have broken my heart.”
Later I confessed to him that the only thing that had stopped me from suggesting that we made love, was that I too thought my advances would drive him away.
When we first made love it was tentative. Lengthy periods of celibacy had made both of us nervous and clumsy, but soon all the tension disappeared, and that afternoon was only to be the first of many.
Andrew met me outside the hairdressers today and after lunching at the Claremont we are going to the Registry office to get married. If Tom expected his relationship with Saskia to continue, his hopes were rudely shattered two days after we returned home.
A very blunt text message on his iPhone made it abundantly clear that she considered what they had had was no more than a holiday fling. For a month or so Tom was in a foul mood, but this lifted immediately when he was elected Captain of the golf club. Tom could not divorce me fast enough when I told him I was pregnant because he had begun an affair with the Lady Captain, and to my surprise, Saskia did not put any obstacles in Andrew’s way either. Being single would be a good career move for her, she said.
The twins, Phillip James, and Andrea Jane, are a little too young to be at the wedding, but there will be plenty of photographs for them to see when they are old enough. Prominently displayed in the album will also be pictures of a hotel nestling on the shores of the Adriatic.