Browsing articles in "Fiction"
Apr 9, 2016

The Holiday – Short Story

four-friends21 years. It seemed like a lifetime ago to Jane McCarthy. Class of ’95. It had been a long hot summer, which of course, had begun on the first day of the Leaving Cert. Jane hadn’t revised a jot. Nothing new there. But she’d been confident about her final exams, nonetheless. She’d her portfolio done and already had her place in a London art college.

All she had to do now was get her A in art and she’d be away. School didn’t worry Jane. She went when she felt like it. Sometimes did her homework. Jane McCarthy certainly wasn’t afraid of any teachers. Not even the head nun, Sister Eileen. She’d be free as a bird after the Leaving. Next stop London!

Well, after the holiday that was. The four of them had booked flights to Malaga via London. It was madness really, Jane reflected. Herself, her best mate Sarah and Sarah’s friends Maeve and Laura. Three weeks in Torremolinos. Three weeks! God, they must have loved themselves… That was a helluva lot of babysitting money.

Long before the days of cheap Ryanair flights, so they’d found themselves flying Dublin to Heathrow, tubing across rush hour London, suitcases and all, to Gatwick, finally landing in Spain a day later. How their parents had allowed it Jane would never know. Not that her own parents had ever said no…

How life had changed. They were all married now. Jane only recently. She and her new husband, Kevin, had eloped to Las Vegas. Not for her the big puffball meringue wedding. Jane had always marched to the beat of her own drum. They’d had a big party when they’d got back. No first dance, no cake, no madness. Just great music and delicious food.

Jane and Kevin had suited themselves just fine. Sarah was already married five years, with three under five. And another on the way! Maeve had had a spectacular wedding in a castle, as befit a judge’s daughter. She had two little boys. And Laura was in Scotland, married with a baby.

Jane was the only one not a member of the Mummy Club. All of the girls from school were kidded up now. Some even had teenagers! It was a funny thing, really. Jane reckoned that if you asked the mothers, they’d definitely say that nothing had changed. In terms of frendship. But from Jane’s point of view, everything had changed. You were either in or you were out. And she was out.

The exclusivity of the Mummy Club wasn’t even something subtle. It was a red line. Jane wasn’t that bothered by it, not in a chip on your shoulder way. She was just aware of it. As a reality, more than anything. But, Jane absolutely adored her friends’ kids.

The hoilday had come too soon after a heavy summer of first loves, drunken nights and freedom from school. It would be college, and life itself, once they returned. Not that any of the four of them realised it at the time. Those were the days when life just happened.

Arriving into Torre, on a balmy August night, past the London Boys nightclub on the corner and into the cool confines of Maeve’s grandparents apartment, they’d finally set down their luggage after an epic journey. Jane had a bought a shimmery pink triangle bikini in Accessorise at Gatwick Airport. She and Sarah laid out their summer clothes on twin beds.

As they lay in the dark calm, Jane and Sarah could hear Maeve and Laura giggling next door. What followed was three blissful weeks of laughter, sunbathing, shopping, eating, swimming, relaxing, drinking and chatting. Nobody made Jane laugh as much as Sarah could.

Sarah would only have to whisper one of their in-jokes – “Duty-free goods for you?” – and Jane would nearly wet herself laughing at Sarah’s high pitched mockery. That one was for the orange Essex girl air hostess they’d had on the chartered flight to Malaga. The first of many mad characters encountered on the holiday. Luckily, they’d all been on the same wavelength.

Mr. Marchioct, the ridey waiter in their local bar. Tights Man, the old guy wearing, erm, just tights. George McFly, Mr.M’s nerdy colleague who’d assumed they’d come to the bar for him. Once, they’d attracted a bunch of frisky French boys, and Jane joked – “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi dans la mer?”. They’d nearly chased her into the sea.

Or the time a greasy English club tout had almost whisked them into a grotty niteclub with a promise of endless shots. Or when they’d gone to Marbella and managed not to find the beach… And the Godfather! An ancient Italian lothario who’d managed to hook up their pedalo to his powerboat.

Jane smiled at the sheer innocence of them. The totally ridiculous scrapes they’d got into. They’d practically run out of cash by the third week. Lunch was a bag of patatas fritas. And a beer. When they’d first gone to the local bar, George McFly had brought them a round of San Miguel instead of the Pina Coladas they’d ordered. The pigeon Spanish that had ensued…

But the cocktail money was long gone now. And somehow the girls had managed to still get along. Inspite of Jane having her moments. Of parents fretting down the phone (not hers). And of the eventual trip home. A journey from hell, involving planes, trains, boats and tears.

Jane had gone straight to London, afterwards. Sarah to UCD, Maeve to DIT and Laura to Edinburgh Uni. The intervening years had seen them dipping in and out of each other’s lives. 21st birthday parties, crazy nights out, first boyfriends. Then 30th birthdays, weddings, first babies. And now Jane’s 40th. Married, but still no baby…

She and Sarah had shared a flat in Town at one stage. They’d been on several more holidays together. The time they’d been played by a couple of waiters in Majorca. Or when they’d got chased by a randy old goat in a market in Crete. Terrfying, but they’d never laughed so much. Nobody got Jane like Sarah did.

Their friendship had survived plenty of ups and downs. Jane’s five years in London. Sarah moving out of the flat in Town. They had both found new soulmates in their husbands. And it was wonderful, especially for Sarah to see Jane finally settling down. God knows Jane had tangled with enough fucking idiots over the years.

Jane had been delighted when Sarah had her first little one, Megan. Then suddenly, everyone started having babies. They were all so adorable. Jane loved playing with other people’s babies. Cuddling them, comforting them. But it really hadn’t occured to Jane to have her own baby. She was not a Mummy.

They’d been the same all those years ago. The four of them. Starting out in life. Jane had almost dismissed the Mummy Club as being all in her mind, until recently. She’d gone to Arklow for Megan’s birthday party. Sarah was glad of the help, she was in her third trimester. Jane had enjoyed decorating the house, with the three girls following her every move.

It was when the other kids arrived… And the Mums. Jane had felt like a spare part. She’d sat down and got on with painting the kids’ faces. It was only when Sarah had rolled her eyes at Jane’s silly games, that she’d realised the truth. Would Jane McCarthy ever join the Mummy Club?