By Sara Roberts
Lisa stepped onto the balcony and breathed in. This hotel had been a good idea; in the evenings the warm air was filled with the smell of frangipani and the sea sounded so near, as if it were right outside their window. It washed the night clean in the darkness and lulled her to sleep along with the sound of the crickets.
This morning, she had found herself alone. Jim must have gone for an early run along the beach. Between the palm trees bright slivers of turquoise water shone enticingly in the heat. Lisa rested her hand on the balcony railing and stretched her back, bending carefully at right angles at the waist. Perhaps they would be able to patch things up here. Nothing had been the same again since they lost the baby.
No. She closed her eyes. Don’t think about that.
She might get pregnant again. That’s what the doctor said. Maybe even while they were here. Yes, it was just the right sort of place. She smiled and stood up, turning her face to the sun. Maybe she already was.
Laughter tinkled; she looked down. There was Jim, also stretching, by the side of the pool, talking to someone. She couldn’t see who it was, but a woman’s voice floated out from under the parasol directly beneath her. Lisa watched her hands grip the railing. A cold knot landed in the pit of her stomach like a stone thrown into water.
From the way Jim was puffing his chest out and making a big deal of his warm-up, Lisa knew she must be young and attractive, probably with large breasts and a small bikini. He had always been a big boob man.
Jim walked over to the pool and dived in. He crossed the whole length of it before surfacing, and emerged triumphant and streaming at the other end. Lisa almost expected him to beat his chest and roar. It was always so pathetic, so cringe-inducing, watching a man nearing middle age trying to impress a younger woman. There was something just so obvious about it.
Jim’s voice rumbled and again that tinkling, high-pitched laughter rang out. He strode over to the parasol under their balcony. The laughter heightened, now tinged with a faint edge of hysteria, then stopped. In the silence, Lisa stared at the yellow and green logo of a palm tree printed on the top of the parasol and felt a piercing cold creeping up from her feet, through her veins. The angry knot in her belly throbbed, and she realised dully that they were her period pains.