This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 850 words.
Jealousy worked both ways, as I found out later that year. It turned out that Fiona was getting married the following summer. As the wedding was to be held in St Lucia on a beach, no friends had been invited, mainly to spare them the high cost of travel. So there was to be an extended hen weekend before, and that fell on our second anniversary. Becky busted a gut to get the time off, and it didn’t concern her that our second anniversary would pass without celebration, just as the first had. I found the thought of eight women on a free-for-all in Ibiza to be quite worrying, and had my doubts about why they needed to go for seven nights.
Like most things in our marriage, it was arranged and paid for long before it was mentioned to me. This time, I did make it clear that I wasn’t happy, and when Becky suggested I do something with Luke while she was away, I thought she wasn’t getting my point. We had to agree to disagree, and she accused me of sulking, which made me angry. Mainly because she was right, I was sulking. Not only because of her going on a monumental piss-up with a gang of girls I hardly knew, but also because she had decided that it would be her main holiday that year, and we didn’t need to go anywhere together. It also made me conscious that I had few friends, and no inclination to go on holiday with my best one, Luke.
So off she went, leaving me sitting at home or at work convinced she would be the centre of attraction for any randy guys over there, and might well end up copping off with one or more of them during a week of binge drinking. I didn’t even get to see her off at the airport, as she was going with two of the others in a taxi that had been booked. The first night, she sent a text to tell me that she had arrived okay, and then I didn’t hear anything for two days after that. I was reminded of Justina, though at least I knew Becky didn’t have two kids lurking anywhere.
And I also realised just how quickly I had become used to being a couple.
It passed soon enough, and I went to collect her from the return flight. She looked tired, and told me that two of the girls in her room had been laid low with Diarrhoea, and had not been able to go out after the first night. Fiona and her had an argument about something on night three, and the last two days it had rained heavily, trapping them all inside during the day. The hotel had been a shabby place, and so far from the bars and clubs they had to get taxis everywhere. I felt a little guilty that her news made me happy.
But not too guilty.
We had a quiet Sunday before she went back to work on Monday night. Becky cooked a roast dinner with a huge chicken, and we sat chatting after, finishing a bottle of wine. That felt like the marriage I had expected. A couple together, talking about anything, and relaxing after a nice meal. I wasn’t stupid, and knew there was more to making a marriage work than that, but I couldn’t help but be very happy that evening. As the mood was so good, I brought up the fact she had argued with Fiona, and mentioned how strange that woman had acted around me at the wedding. I added that she seemed to have been an unlikely choice as bridesmaid, and I was also surprised that Becky had not been invited to return the favour in St Lucia next year.
Then she told me something that really surprised me.
Fiona had been the best friend that had slept with her first long-term boyfriend on that New Year’s Eve. She was the reason they had split up, and it had been all the more painful because Fiona had been her closest friend until that happened. That was why she had gone back to Scotland to work in Edinburgh, after Becky told her she would never forgive her. Of course, that confused me. Then why invite her to our wedding, and to be the only bridesmaid? Becky told me that she had wanted to build bridges, and make a fresh start with her old friend. And she had concluded that the reason Fiona had been so weird around me was so that she couldn’t be accused of flirting with me, or even so much as having an opinion either way about me.
After they had all had too much to drink one night in Ibiza, Becky had dragged it all up again, and caused a huge upset with the hen party. I suggested that it might blow over, and that they could try again to rekindle that good friendship, but Becky was shaking her head as I spoke.
“No, I’m done with her. Should have known better than to try”.