The trouble with PARADISE
WOMAN - UK|July 27, 2021
Sun, sea and sand wouldn’t mend Angie’s heart – but perhaps a new future wasn’t so very far away
Lisa Longbottom

I select a piece of fresh juicy papaya from the platter of tropical fruit before me, place it in my mouth and chew slowly. I’m doing anything to distract myself from Jack’s non-stop chatter.

‘I checked with the man on reception, and he confirmed that, because you booked the honeymoon package, we can have the complimentary couples massage. I explained to him that, technically speaking, it’s not your honeymoon anymore, so given the circumstances, we can have separate treatment rooms. He’s booked us both in at 11 am.’

Before Jack can divulge any more of his bright idea I stand up, reach under the table, grab my orange beach bag, flippers and snorkel.

‘I need some air,’ I say. ‘I’m going for a walk along the beach.’

‘What, in the rain? You haven’t finished your breakfast. Angie, weren’t you listening? I said I’ve booked the spa…’

I go outside, follow the rough path until I reach the beach, where I stop, breathe deeply, and allow the humid air to fill my lungs. The rain taps gently on my upturned face as I kick off my flip-flops and embrace the solitude of the empty beach and the feeling of wet sand squelching between my toes. I start to stroll past a line of empty sunbeds as Jack’s latest insensitive words spin round my head.

‘Even though it’s not technically your honeymoon.’ There isn’t anything technical about it. To be on a honeymoon you have to be married. I decided not to get married, therefore it’s not my honeymoon. I wanted to cancel this, along with the rest of the wedding plans, only my dear brother had other ideas.

I should have realised it was obvious he just wanted a free holiday when he said, ‘Why should you miss out on visiting the Maldives? I could go with you. We can relax, enjoy the sunshine and spend some quality time together. And did you say it was a luxury, five-star, all-inclusive hotel?’

But ever since we got here, all he’s done is laugh at my expense.

‘Angie, wait, what’s wrong?’ I turn to see Jack running towards me. ‘What have I said to upset you now?’

‘I have to face pitying looks from strangers’

‘Apart from your insensitive comments, and the oversharing you’ve done? You’ve told anyone who’d listen the intimate details of my life. Thanks to you I have to face pitying looks from strangers. I heard you laughing last night at the irony of us sharing the honeymoon suite. I didn’t hear you mention I decided to call the wedding off, that it was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. Because that bit isn’t funny, is it?’

‘Angie, it’s not like that…’

I stomp away, not wanting to listen anymore and I head towards the jetty, safe in the knowledge this is one place guaranteed to be a Jack-free zone. He made that perfectly clear on the first morning.

‘Do you seriously expect me to stick a piece of plastic over my face while I attempt to breathe through a pipe? Just to see fish? No thank you. I’ll be at the pool enjoying a cocktail.’

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