It was the first time she’d stopped in a long time, here, thousands of miles from home, beer in hand with a breeze blowing the salt from her messy hair. She’d bloody made it! Thalia Thorpe, the reliable one, the sensible girl with her head screwed on right. The girl whose now-ex boyfriend cheated on her… that Thalia Thorpe was currently clutching a bottle of beer on a beach in Cambodia and life was good.
She smiled to herself, a little buzzed from the cheap drinks she’d had after dumping her new backpack at the hostel and setting off into the night. What a thrill to step out in the dark wearing just a slip dress, the air so warm it felt almost tangible, with a weight to it, not like the cold London air she was used to.
While life was good, and it was, Thalia had now run out of distractions to keep her from her thoughts. The break up was horrible, Luke had cheated, and she had known he had for a while before he told her, but nothing had prepared her for the twist of the knife that was to come “I never loved you”. What was the point of those three years? Those three wasted years, she wasn’t getting any younger, at nearly 30 things started to get a little more real.
Kids, a mortgage, ‘settling down’ weren’t in the distant future. It was stuff to be done now. With Luke. But. Every girl has her breaking point and hopefully at least a modicum of self respect. Seeing the shock on Luke’s face when she told him she’d spent her savings, her half of the deposit for the house they’d both dreamed of, on a round the world ticket was worth every penny of the ticket price. Who was more surprised at the lack of theatrics or tears – her or him?
So the last few months had been mercifully filled with plans, maps, making up for years of daydreaming during school geography classes. No time to think about Luke, no time for tears. Then there were the injections, the landlord to deal with, visas, calling the phone company. The goodbyes, the train to Heathrow, the first G&T in row 11 seat A (window seat), looking down on the country she wouldn’t see again for a long time. The longest time in fact.
Now she was there, or ‘here’. Finally here. Now what?
“Excuse me, do you have a light?” Thalia turned at the deep Scouse accent, she’d always liked a Liverpudlian lilt. He was deeply tanned, obviously he’d been here a while, and the nut brown of his skin made the blue of his eyes look almost unreal.
“Um, yes, sure, here!” Thalia fumbled in her tote bag, voice wavering, she peered up at him through some stray curls – he really was good looking. He smiled cheekily “do you have a cigarette too?”. Thalia laughed “normally people ask the other way round, but yes, I do”. The two sat in an amiable silence on the near-deserted beach. Two amber dots.
The mysterious dreamboat spoke “I’m James, and I don’t usually smoke. I just wanted an excuse to talk to you…”. Thalia had never had a holiday romance, but James was beautiful, she was halfway across the world, under a thousand stars… hadn’t she run away to heal her heart?