P and Q lay back in their red and white striped deck chairs and soaked up the Caribbean sun. We commented on how wonderful it was for the four of us to find ourselves in the warmth once again. Q added that although she missed the others, she preferred it when we took our holidays without X and Y. All was so much calmer when we gathered as a foursome.
It was at that very moment that X surprised us from behind. Y followed her. With their arrival our holiday destination suddenly switched back to Manchester and the miserable British weather. We travelled through the grey streets in a white transit van, with TPR at the wheel. I sat next to Y on the back seat and started to misbehave, in full knowledge of his secret passion for me. X knew what was going on, but I ignored her hard stare. When X resorted to accusing me directly of flirting with her husband, I denied everything. I tried to change the subject by pointing out Manchester’s replica of Oxford’s Hertford Bridge (the Bridge of Sighs), my new offices at Salford University, and the city’s operational (unlike Edinburgh’s) tram system.
I later felt embarrassed about my bad behaviour. I sought out X to apologise. When I eventually found her at the far end of the canal I was shocked at her appearance. She looked so small, tired and grey. Then she started to throw up. I put my arms around her in comfort and promised that I would meet her again, on her own, when she felt better. I proposed a day out in York or Sheffield by train. I then headed back to the others once more. Meanwhile I left X in peace to shrink down to the size of a toddler.