Excerpt from Flip-Flops, Fiestas and Flamenco.

“I’m going to live in Spain,” she stated matter-of-factly, ignoring her exes comment.

As proof, she produced the flip-flops with a flourish.

Silence again, only this time not in a good way.

“Fuck’s sake, Mum, who do you think you are? Shirley bloody Valentine!” Andrew spurted tea down his shirt. “It’s bloody nonsense.”

“What about us and the house? You’re not selling are you?” Daniel whined, fiddling with his glasses. At twenty-five, he was uncannily like his father, in personality as well as looks. Good looking, yes. Paisley was always comparing him to Tom Hardy – much to Andrew’s disgust – and yes, Abby could see the resemblance if Tom Hardy had a poker shoved up his arse, thick-rimmed spectacles, perfectly coiffed hair, and worked in the scintillating world of company accounts. Daniel. No emotion. Just practicalities.

“You’re more than able to look after yourselves, and the house is paid for. All you’ll need to do is pay the bills; even you pair can manage that, surely.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Abby, you’re not going to live in Spain.” Janice forgotten, Mark’s face had turned an apoplectic shade of crimson.

“I am … with Lou … she’s bought a house.” Like that explained everything.

“It’s bloody disgusting, that’s what it is.” Andrew, now in full flow his chins and belly wobbling in synchronisation, almost frothed at the mouth. “Two slappers in Salou.”

Paisley sensibly had retreated and stood by the door wringing her hands.

“That’s enough, Andrew! Don’t speak to your mother like that.” Mark puffed out his chest.

“Well, it’s true. She’s abandoning us to go drink sangria and shag Spanish waiters.”

Purposefully, Abby walked unsteadily across the still sticky, damp rug she’d scrubbed that morning and harshly slapped Andrew’s livid face. Turning, she faced them all, speaking in quiet, but firm tones.

“I am going to live in Spain. Maybe I will drink sangria and shag a hundred Spanish waiters … maybe not. But, whatever I do, it’s none of your damn business. Any of you. Got that?”

She could feel eyes burning into her and the murmur of voices fading as she purposefully strode into the kitchen to let Chester out into the garden. Pulling a cigarette from the packet, she lit up, and inhaled, the deep drag bringing on an urgency to spew. Leaning over, she vomited into a large plant pot, wiped her mouth, and ground the cigarette on the soaked paving. Fishing for her phone in her wet pocket, she tapped out a text message. Why had she said he was moving to Spain when she knew that wasn’t possible? Or was it?

Looking up into the wilderness of a dismal grey sky, grotesquely brimming with a heavy mass of black cloud threatening another ugly downpour, Abby’s head was all over the place as her right index finger hovered over the send button. Think, Abby. Think.

But it wasn’t Mark and his young dolly bird’s baby announcement, nor treacherous Paisley or her sons’ demeaning, mindless comments, nor even Lou’s unbridled enthusiasm that made up her mind. Granted, that little list was more than enough to make her up sticks. What sealed it was Chester. As he mooched aimlessly round the garden in the sodden grass, eyes sunken, ears almost disappearing into a squashed face that looked as miserable as she felt, Abby felt a lone teardrop trickle down her cheek. As if willing her to make a decision, Chester let out an unusually long, sorrowful whine prompting Abby to burst into sobs, and her finger to come down heavily on the send button.

The message to Lou was short and simple.

Count me in x



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