February 4th, 1989
The morning started off well, with lots of extra sleep and not a taxi, train or tube, in sight. I was lounging in bed, daydreaming about Ben and our reunion tomorrow, when the phone started ringing. Earlier, mum had popped her head into my room to say she and dad were going shopping, so I dashed downstairs to answer the phone.
“Uh-oh, somebody had a late night,” Pamsy mocked.
“Actually no…” I yawned. “Sorry. I didn’t, but tonight will be a late one. Quelle heure est-il?”
“Almost noon, mademoiselle.”
“What are you up to?” I asked.
“Sweet Fanny Adams.”
“Good for you. Us hosties need a little rest sometimes.”
“Not for long though. I have a night Palma, but check in isn’t until six.”
“Oh, you poor thing. Is there anything worse than a Saturday night flight? The passengers will be pissed on the outbound, and overdue for detox on the inbound.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. What are your plans today?”
“Jon is coming over later to pick me up, and then…”
“Wait. Jon? Your ex-boyfriend Jon?”
“I didn’t know you were still in touch with him.”
“Oh yeah, we’re still friends.”
“I thought Ben was coming home tomorrow?”
“He is, I have to be at Gatwick early. I can’t wait. Anyway, how was…?”
“Oh no, don’t even think about changing the subject. Start with why Jon is picking you up, and finish with why you’re seeing Ben the second he arrives back in England.”
So I did. And it took about two hours.
No sooner did I hang up, when mum and dad came home. I had my legs draped over the armrest of what we’ve always referred to as the phone chair (the comfiest Chesterfield ever, with the softest leather.)
“Are you no even dressed yet?” mum asked, going into the kitchen.
“You must’ve needed the sleep,” dad said, hanging up his jacket on one of the brass hooks under the stairs.
“I’ve been up for a while. I was on the phone with Pamsy.”
“How’s she getting on?” dad asked, as mum called out from the kitchen. “I’m making tea, and we bought cakes, so don’t disappear Karen.”
“Pamsy’s fine dad, apart from the fact she has a night flight to Palma.”
“Uff, that’s something you don’t need to worry about with British Airways.”
The phone rang, and made me jump. I picked up the receiver, half expecting it to be Pamsy again, with something she forgot to tell me.
“Is that my gorgeous babe?” asked Ben, sounding rather seductive.
I felt my insides do several somersaults. “I believe so.”
“Your phone’s been engaged for hours.”
“Sorry, I was talking to Pamsy.”
“I can’t stay on for long,” he said.
“That’s ok, we can talk all day tomorrow, I’m so…”
“I have some bad news.”
“What?” I asked.
“I won’t be home tomorrow.”
“No. No.” I felt the lump in my throat and swallowed hard. “Why not?”
“They need me here for another week.”
“But you said you were done. Can’t you just leave?” I whined.
“I wish I could.”
“Shit. This is awful.”
Mum came out of the kitchen. “Who is it?” she mouthed.
I put my hand over the mouthpiece, “it’s Ben.”
“Your tea’s ready,” she said, in a not so quiet voice.
“I can’t stay on the phone. I have to get back to work.”
Through the glass wall that looks from the hallway into the kitchen, I watched mum talking to dad.
“Can you ring back later?” I quietly pleaded.
“I won’t be able to, I have airport duty.”
I saw dad shrug his shoulders, then shake his head.
“I’m so upset. Are you upset? You don’t sound upset.” I blurted.
“I’m at a payphone, surrounded by people. I have to go. I’m sorry.”
“Ring me as soon as you can. Ok?”
“Karen,” mum called, “your tea’s getting cold.”
“I will,” Ben sighed.
“I love you. I really miss you and can’t wait to see you. Ring me as soon as…”
The line went dead.
I choked back the tears, and went into the kitchen. As soon as I sat down, mum asked, “What time is Jon coming for you?”
“I need to phone him.”
“What for?” dad asked.
“To tell him I can’t make it.”
“Uff, now that’s just silly,” mum said. “Go.”
“Aye, go wi Jon, and enjoy yourself. You’re a young lassie, you shouldnae be stuck in on a Saturday night.”
I wolfed down a strawberry tart without tasting it. Then I had a cream cake. And another strawberry tart.
“I don’t feel very well,” I said. “I’m going to phone Jon, then I’m going back to bed.”