Sounds of Soldiers- A chat

Sally is very quiet. Marianne has taken Robert off to meet more expats. As he gave a little wave goodbye Sally had the broody’ “want one” look. But now there’s so much she wants to say but isn’t. Perhaps she doesn’t know where to start. I offer her my hand. After a moment she takes it and I lead her out of the hall.

There are tables and chairs on the pavement, with parasols over them- incongruous under the grey sky. We take a couple of seats and order teas.

“He’s beautiful.” Sally announces quietly.

“Yes.” I think I’m going into some sort of shock, but I can’t withdraw into myself, not whilst Sally’s with me. Especially as she wants to talk. “I never……”

“Were you in love?”

“No. I mean….. We only knew each other for a few days. I haven’t told you about it have I?”

“I didn’t ask, apart from when we were talking numbers.” No-one really wants to hear stories about their partner’s ex- unless it involves schadenfreude or slapstick.

So I tell her about Toulon, and the spy who fucked me. I lay off the more lurid details, though I may talk up the nuke a bit. From that point on Sally stares at me with wide eyes and open mouth. “Do you have more stories like that?” At least I seem to have taken her mind off what was upsetting her.

“Some of them may sound unbelievable.” I stroke the back of her hand with my thumb. “You’re angry?”

“I’m upset. No. No, I am angry. How can she tell you like that? Why did she have to be so dramatic?” For a moment there’s a look on her face- don’t cross her. “If your son wasn’t so fucking charming I’d have left you there.”

“She’s going to be around for a while, and now I’ve found out about junior I want to get to know him. Are you going to be okay with that?”

“Probably not. But there’s a problem.” I get that chill again. I don’t think the dramatic pause is for effect. She looks down at her empty teacup then straight at me. “I love you. So I’m going to trust you.”

I pull her across the table and kiss her. She takes it further, coming round to wrap her arms around me and sit on my lap. When she pulls away it’s to wipe her cheeks. I kiss her again. “I love you.” I think I mean it, but it gets her crying again and I feel guilty.

They’re happy tears, though. “Who’s being the drama queen now?” she asks with a smile. “Let’s go find your babymama and see when we can steal the baby.”