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The Breakup - Short Story by J.M. Triangle

“Let me see,” the man ran a finger down the greasy page. “Ah yes, I see.” He crossed off the name, then took a key from a hook on the wall and gave it to Richard.

“Breakfast is served from seven a.m. until,” he scratched the stubble on his chin, “I suppose around ten. Mary is a great cook, contrary enough all the same. The room is on the top floor so you’ll have a nice view of the garden. My brother was the better keeper, very fussy though. That’s him there,” he pointed to a picture of a man that looked near identical to him, only with a mouthful of teeth and a headful of hair, “he passed away last year.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Elizabeth said.

“Why, are your ears hurting you?” the man cackled, “Sure I’m joking, but there’s no use pretending he’s a loss to anyone—he was a bit of a scallywag so he was. Imagine someone caved his skull in with an axe. Anyway, enough of my talk and be sure to enjoy your stay while it lasts. Ring the bell if there’s fuss.”

* * *

The room was tiny. Two single beds, a wardrobe, and a locker were squashed in it, there was no ensuite (but there was a communal shower room and toilet room down the hall).

After seeing their sleeping quarters, the local hotel was investigated only to find that the annual surfing festival took place that weekend and there was not a spare bed in the town.

They decided to stay in the Clifftop Paradise, for the day was disappearing and Richard, unlike Elizabeth, had a love of all things festival.

“Really Elizabeth,” Richard said after discovering Elizabeth’s qualms about festivals, “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy going to a festival.”

“Well, you see,” Elizabeth picked at the red varnish on her nails, “I used to work for a festival company and the manager was just so mean. Once he even tried to fire me—”

“Fire you for what?”

“Oh nothing, some money had gone missing and well…” Elizabeth giggled. She ran her nail against the edge of the bed table and a flake of nail-varnish fell onto the carpet. “I was the last to speak to him before he disappeared. These things happen I suppose. People in charge have a way of just disappearing or,” she added as an afterthought, “dying. My present manager has been acting awfully funny. It wouldn’t surprise me if she threw herself off the balcony in her office—it’s up ever so high you know.” Elizabeth bit her lip then whispered, “she’d be sure to die on impact.”

Richard laughed and told her she had a funny girly way of thinking.

* * *

After that conversation, beds were pushed together and Elizabeth’s suitcase was dragged up the stairs and stored under the bed. Spirits that had been dampened soared after the beds had been christened, only to plummet soon after when Richard tripped over the suitcase’s handle and fell onto the door. His encounter with the wood left a dent which he was subsequently fined for, paying more than the door was worth. His answers to Elizabeth were strictly in monosyllables for the rest of the night.

* * *

The following day, they wandered around the town, looking at the array of surfing products sold from canvas tents and taking shelter from the rain in the packed, damp pubs. When Elizabeth could take no more psychedelic music that the pubs continuously played, they walked the short distance to the beach and watched the surfers. In comparison with the pros, the amateurs looked particularly awful as they crashed into the sea and bobbed to the surface, red of face, with open mouths spitting out seawater. After a laughing fit of one such amateur Elizabeth and Richard shared a starry-eyed gaze, which resulted in Elizabeth saying: “I love you.” Richard coughed and turned from her, and pointed out an unusually-shaped board held by a dreadlocked man. Elizabeth feigned interest in what she found uninteresting and after a time they sulked back to the hotel and spent the night drinking beer and vinegary-wine.

* * *

The next morning they availed of the breakfast that came from suffering a night at Clifftop Paradise, the previous morning they had slept it out after having a stilted night’s sleep on the uneven mattresses. Breakfast was served in a room with burgundy walls. The room itself was large enough to fit seven small round tables and a brown piano at the back of the room. Three of the tables were occupied by middle aged couples with faces that resembled badgers and beavers.

“Do you think we should just take a seat?” Elizabeth asked.

“I haven’t got time to wait around to be seated,” Richard sniffed.

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