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The Last Holiday

It had been three months since Julie decided that enough was enough, and she ended the relationship, this time for good. Gerry’s drinking had steadily got worse over the years, and Julie had divorced him five years earlier. Since the divorce, they started seeing each other again, Julie believing that things would get better. Sadly, things only got worse. They had booked a package holiday in Portugal a few months before the break up; Julie, Gerry and Iona, their only daughter. Gerry decided that he was still going, as he wanted to spend time with his daughter.

The day arrives and they fly to Portugal, Julie nervous and Gerry very angry. To describe the holiday other than bloody awful, would be a lie. However, they went through the motions of being a family, eating dinner together and sunbathing. It was a small hotel, with no live entertainment, and Gerry was annoyed that the inclusive drinks ended at 11pm. He didn’t want to leave the hotel, as he would lose free drinking time. This made things very awkward for Iona, as her mum wanted to go for walks along the promenade, but dad didn’t. It was a fine balancing act for the poor girl, and she did her best to please everyone, which caused her some distress.

One morning, they decided to walk to the weekly market. It was a hot day, and there was no shade along the way. Eventually, after what seemed a lifetime, they arrived at the market. It was the usual stuff; souvenirs and household items. The heat was unbearable, and they stopped to have a cold soft drink from one of the small cafes in the market. Jerry was becoming restless, desperate to get back to the hotel for his first drink of the day. The mere thought of walking back was too much for Julie and Iona, and they decided to get a taxi. The waiting time was approximately 20 minutes, but at least they could stand in the shade while they were waiting. Gerry was having none of this, and he started walking back, leaving Julie and Iona in the queue. They suddenly felt more relaxed, and decided to have a drink in the cafe opposite, rather than standing about.

It’s their turn for the next car; luxury air conditioning and darkened windows. They tell the driver where to go, and agree a price for the journey. Sitting relaxed in the back, they see a familiar figure walking along the road; Gerry, drinking from a bottle of something alcoholic. Should they stop and pick him up? They looked at each other, no words required. The shame of it all would be too much. Gerry’s alcoholism had dominated endless years of both their lives, and they both felt ashamed, and worried about others judging them. They sat back, enjoying the cool air of the taxi. When they arrived back at the hotel, Julie and Iona had time to enjoy a cup of tea, before Gerry turned up, with his sour face and attitude. It really was an awful holiday.

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