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It was the 2nd of August, and despite coming off the back of the wettest July in ages, Sandra was going through her own personal dry spell - professionally, romantically and domestically. She needed a change, and that's when she decided to...

take up her sister's offer of a week in a spa in the west. The children would love a week with their grandparents. And her husband would hardly notice she had left. She would have to work on her boss though...

but then again, that might not be so difficult - last year's Christmas party encounter came fleetingly to Sandra's mind, the brief rememberance lasting longer than the dalliance itself. Of course, there had been awkward moments since then, but overall she felt they shared a certain understanding...

...Sometimes when she looked at the children a wave of guilt washed through her and she wished she hadn’t shared those last few glasses of wine with him Apart from guilt, often she got a flush of worry when she looked at her youngest son who, in certain moods, looked remarkably like her boss...

… Her son was a particularly beautiful child. He had straight jet black hair and sallow, almost coffee-coloured skin. Her boss was half Filipino; his mother, originally from Manilla had met his father in London in the ‘swinging 60’s’. Her husband on the other hand came from a long line of big-boned redheads from north Mayo; exotic and good-looking in their own unique way, but very different to her son’s striking good looks. This had always attracted compliments as opposed to any curiosity; “isn’t he blessed with good looks”…”he’ll be a heartbreaker that one”…people would often comment. Sandra’s mind drifted back to thoughts of a relaxing break on the west coast…

A knock on the door made her come to her sense. Glenda, her younger sisterglided in leaving a waft of Chanel Chance following he. Sandra eyed her up enviously: Glenda was well groomed and radiant from her shiny, lustrous hair to her expertly pedicured toes. Her sister would never be seen in public looking anything but her best and ate only cold meat, salad, and smoothies. Sandra pulled her jumper over her hips and vowed that once she’d finished the chocolate éclair that she had in the fridge, she would be on a strict diet until Christmas.

The hardship of watching what she ate made the thought of her break at the health spa all the more sweet. She went upstairs and tossed some necessities into a suitcase: a comfortable tracksuit and a little black dress – why not? You never know who you might meet. But her daydreaming was cut short by the ringing of her mobile: a number flashed up that she hadn’t seen in a long time.

“Hello?” she answered the phone tentatively.
“Hi, is this Sandra?” a deep voice asked. Sandra went cold and clutched the phone even tighter. She allowed her mind drift back to what felt like another lifetime, when, single and completely broke, she’d signed up in desperation to an escort agency.
“H-hi” Sandra stuttered.
“Sandra, it’s Joe here, from Joe’s escort agency. Sorry to have to call you out of the blue like this but we’ve gotten a call from one of your old regulars, Mr Rafferty. He’s moved back to Ireland from the Caymens and has requested your… services again.”
Sandra was just about to protest that she was a happily married mother of three when the image of the rugged, silver-haired Mr Rafferty floated into her consciousness.
“Sorry”, she said “I’m going to Galway for the weekend.”
“No problem” replied Joe, “Mr Rafferty would be more than happy to meet you there.”
Sandra hesitated, then quickly agreed before she could change her mind.

As Sandra replaced the receiver of the phone, a rush of excitement swept through her. It was a feeling that was strange, exciting, yet oddly familiar. She knew that she should have said no, that it was wrong – she knew that she shouldn’t have been excited but this was what she had waited for: a chance at happiness, if only for a brief period (normally two-and-a-half minutes with this cat). She told herself over and over reassuringly “It’s just a bit of fun for the weekend, nothing too serious”, although deep down she knew that a long-suppressed demon had been stirred…

She was trembling with excitement: the thought of being held in Mr Rafferty’s strong, broad arms was making her tingle inside. As she boarded the 3.10pm train from Heuston to Galway her mind was completely absorbed with notions of the inevitable tangle she was about to find herself in. She took her seat in the buffet carriage and decided to get herself a café latte with skimmed milk. As she made her way to the counter, she was stunned by who was there serving. It couldn’t be… it was…

It was her first love, Conaill. She always believed that their passion would last forever. She was a small-town girl back then, but Conaill left her and she had been devastated. Now, with her life in turmoil, a chance meeting was to reunite them. What did it all mean?

She approached the counter with slow, small steps not knowing what her first words to her long-lost love would be. He looked up at her from behind the counter and their eyes met. There was intensity and passion in the stare, his lips slightly opened as he went to say his first words to her after so many years…

"I'd forgotten how beautiful you were" he said with a handsome smile.

"Your eyes I've always remembered." Sandra got a warm, tingling feeling. It had been so many years since anyone had said anything so meaningful and genuine to her.

"Thank you, your words are very kind", she replied. And with that they embraced each other nervously with a hug.

"Shall we have a drink?" she asked, "I could do with one to settle my nerves" and with that he gently put his soft tanned hand on her hip and ushered her to a seat. Sandra could hardly contain this nervous but yet exciting feeling. But she knew one thing: she liked it.


Sandra glanced over to where her sister was sitting on the other side of the carriage. Glenda was ensconced in her Blackberry device, replying to work emails and making loud, giggly phone calls to her many girlfriends. She returned back to the moment when Conaill covered her hand with his and asked "Would you like a croissant with your coffee?"

Sandra thought of her new vow to slim down and declined the offer.

Conaill had of course married Sandra's then-best friend Áine a few years after her and Conal's painful breakup. She glanced at the hand covering hers and noticed he was not wearing a wedding ring. Conal noticed her gaze and said quietly "Myself and Áine decided to seperate for a few months, after I found out about her affair. That was a year ago. I think she's left me for good."

Sandra murmured her sympathies but couldn't muster a genuine tone to her voice. Butterflies jumped in her stomach as a flame of hope ignited inside her...


But as he continued to babble on about Aine and her affair a thought suddenly crept into Sandra’s head! What was she doing? Her husband, children, boss, Mr Rafferty and now this. She got a horrible churning sickly feeling in her stomach.

She knew at that moment that her life to date, was nothing short of pathetic. But full of these thoughts she was brought back down to earth with a familiar voice calling her name she looked up to discover her husband standing right in front of her...


Sandra went bright red, her stomach was churning with guilt, sure her husband could sense her disloyalty. Dave smiled easily at her and said "I rang your mobile but you missed the call so I decided to surprise you on the train! I have to come to Galway to meet a client, I didn't know until this morning". "Oh", Sandra enquired trying to calm her beating heart and sound interested, "What client, I didn't know you did business in Galway"? Dave shook his head, "Not usually I don't but a big client has come back from the Caymen Islands and asked to meet in Galway instead of Dublin. He wants both of us to join him for dinner tomorrow with his "lady friend". Be prepared, I've always got the impression he didn't mind paying for the pleasure of a woman's company..."

Sandra's head was spinning, she managed to squeak out "How strange, erm.. Have I heard of this man before"? "Not sure you have love, sure you'll meet him soon enough, Dick Rafferty is his name"...

Sandra’s mind continued to race long after the train pulled into Galway. ‘Girl, you’ve really got yourself in a jam this time’, she thought to herself. The dinner-date with Dick was sure to be dicey, but she’d just have to hope he wouldn’t bring up their past liaisons. No doubt Glenda would be wearing something trashy – maybe she could talk her into posing as Dick’s “lady-friend”. One thing was for sure, Sandra’s ‘relaxing’ break in the west, was turning into anything but...

"So, Sandra" said Mr. Rafferty from across the dinner table "You don't mind if I call you Sandra, do you?" he said with a wolfish grin that Sandra had once found attractive but now it seemed leery and threatening.
"No, of course not, Dick." she said, sarcastically, refusing to meet his eyes.
"Are you still in the escort business?"
There was s second of shocked silence. Sandra looked over at her husband Dave, whose mouth was hanging open in shock and confusion. She felt nothing for him.
Mr. Rafferty was smiling at her and looking very pleased with himself.
"You pig!" she shouted at him, but she was thankful to him, really. Now that her dark, shameful secret was out she felt suddenly free, as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She knew now that there was only one man she truly loved, and he wasn't in the room.

Sandra stood up and gripped the side of the table. Flinging her napkin into Dick’s face, she turned to Dave and said, ‘Sorry, It’s over – you’ve always been more in love with your work than with me’. Things were moving fast now. Sandra knew what she wanted. She reached into her handbag and fished out her return ticket to Dublin. Her life might look like it was going off the rails, but everything felt right on track. She had a certain someone to meet in the buffet carriage.

Sandra left in a hurry, leaving everything she knew behind her and headed for the train station. She sat waiting nervously for the train, her stomach doing flips she was so nervous. What if he wasn’t there then what would she do? Had she done the wrong thing and chosen the wrong path? The train pulled in and she boarded and felt quick sick with nerves, she headed straight for the buffet car and she couldn’t believe what she saw...

A sandwich and packet of crisps for only €2! She thought that was very cheap considering Iaranroid Eireann are usually robbery.

But as she glanced further into the buffet carriage it wasn’t Conaill she saw but her Husband! Glenda had told Dave everything….. about Sandra's ‘moment’ with her boss, about Joes escort agency – back in the early days, about Conaill - Sandra’s first love and how Sandra was finally ready to make the final step away after years of waiting for Dave to love her properly. As Dave relayed this information to a shocked Sandra she thought that he was simply there to stop her finding her true love.

But as the train pulled away from the station Sandra looked into her husbands eyes and realised that everything she wanted she already had. It had taken both of them a long time to realise their love, but the prospects of loosing one another and the loneliness that came with that, had shocked them into realising how strong they were. So as the train headed for Dublin they knew they were starting a new journey in their lives, but this time together.

THE END

6 Comments:

  1. sarah said...
    that was so beautiful! *tear*
    Amy said...
    Savage, pure savage! Almost brought a tear to my eye...only almost! Yea do a horror, go on!!!
    Marie said...
    And here was I thinking she was going to go back to the father of her child, the half filipino boss who she met in london in the swinging 60's!
    JJ_Irl said...
    Wonderful... *wipes away tear*...

    Now lets never speak of it again! :)
    Joey said...
    You left out the bit where they got a dog and watched it pull an Owen Wilson and make a pityful attempt of self harm, get better soon lil doggy !
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