Home > Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(4)

Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(4)
Marian Keyes

Don’t go.

Pausing only to throw a few more nasty comments my way, he slammed out of the apartment. I was devastated. It wasn’t the first time a man had ditched me for no obvious reason, but I hadn’t expected it from Luke Costello. We’d had a relationship for over six months. I had even begun to think it was a good one.

I struggled to deflect waves of shock and grief and pretend to Margaret and Paul that everything was fine. Then in the midst of my stunned, stomach-churning misery, Margaret said ‘Rachel, you’ve got to come home. Dad’s already paid the deposit for you at the Cloisters.’ And I felt like I’d been thown a life-line.

The Cloisters ! The Cloisters was famous.

Hundreds of rock stars had been admitted to the converted monastery in Wicklow (no doubt tying in some handy tax exiling while they were at it) and stayed the requisite couple of months. Then, before you could say ‘Make mine a fizzy water’, they’d stopped wrecking hotel rooms and driving cars into swimming pools, had a new album out, were on every talk show going, speaking gently and being serene, with their hair cut and neatly combed, while reviewers spoke about a new quality and an extra dimension to their work.

I wouldn’t mind going to the Cloisters. There was no shame attached to that. On the contrary. And you never knew who you might meet.

Being blown out by Luke caused me to rethink my entire life.

Maybe it would be OK to leave New York for a while, I thought carefully. Especially as there seemed to be a move towards a ban on enjoying yourself there. I didn’t have to go for ever, just for a couple of months until I felt better.

What harm could it do now that I had no job and no boyfriend to hold me? It was one thing to lose my job, because I’d always get another one. But to lose a boyfriend… well…

‘What do you think, Rachel?’ Margaret asked anxiously. ‘How about it?’

Naturally, I had to put up a bit of a protest. I couldn’t admit that my life was so worthless that I could walk away from it without a backward glance. I made a show of resisting, but it was mere bravado, empty posturing.

‘How would you like it,’ I demanded of Margaret, ‘if I marched into your life and said “Come on now, Mags, say goodbye to Paul, your friends, your flat, your job and your life. You’re going three thousand miles away to a madhouse, even though there’s nothing wrong with you”? Well, how would you like that?’

Margaret was nearly in tears. ‘Oh, Rachel, I’m sorry. But it’s not a madhouse and…’

I couldn’t keep it up for long because I hated upsetting Margaret. Even though she was weird and saved money and hadn’t had sex until she got married, I was still very fond of her. So by the time I got round to saying ‘Margaret, how can your conscience let you do this to me? How can you sleep at night?’ my capitulation was complete.

When I said ‘OK, I’ll go,’ relieved looks shot between Brigit, Margaret and Paul, which annoyed me because they were acting as if I was some kind of incapacitated half-wit.

Once I had a good think about it, a rehabilitation place seemed like a good idea. A great idea.

I hadn’t had a holiday in ages. I could do with a rest, some peace and serenity. Somewhere to hide and lick my Luke-shaped wounds.

The words of Patrick Kavanagh’s Advent floated around in my head, We have tested and tasted too much, lover, through a chink too wide, there comes in no wonder.

I’d read loads about the Cloisters and it sounded wonderful. I had visions of spending a lot of time sitting around wrapped in a big towel. Of steam rooms, saunas, massage, seaweed treatment, algae, that kind of thing. I’d eat lots of fruit, I vowed, nothing but fruit and vegetables. And I’d drink gallons of water, at least eight glasses of water a day. To flush me out, to cleanse me.

It would be good to go for a month or so without a drink and without doing drugs.

A whole month, I thought, clenched by sudden fear. Then the calming effect of the Valium soothed me. Anyway, they probably had wine with the meals in the evenings. Or maybe people like me, the ones that didn’t have serious problems, would be allowed out to walk down to the local pub.

I would stay in a simple converted monk’s cell. Slate floors, whitewashed walls, a narrow wooden bed, the faraway sound of Gregorian chant floating on the evening air. And, of course, they’d have a gym. Everyone knows that exercise is the best cure for alcoholics and the like. I’d have a stomach like a plank when I came out. Two hundred sit-ups a day. It would be great to have time to spend on myself. So when I returned to New York, I’d look fabulous and Luke would be on his knees begging me to take him back.

There was bound to be some kind of therapy, as well. Therapy therapy, I mean, not just cellulite therapy. The lie-down-on-the-couch-and-tell-me-about-your-father kind. Which I’d be quite happy to go along with. Not to actually do, of course. But it would be very interesting to see the real drug addicts, the thin ones with the anoraks and the lank hair, nurturing themselves as five-year-olds. I would emerge cleansed, whole, renewed, reborn. Everyone who was currently pissed-off with me wouldn’t be pissed-off anymore. The old me would have gone, the new me ready to start all over again.

‘Will she, er, be going, you know, cold turkey?’ Margaret tentatively asked Brigit, as we prepared for the snow-lined drive to JFK.

‘Don’t be so ridiculous.’ I laughed. ‘You’re all overreacting wildly. Cold turkey, my foot. You only get that with heroin.’

‘And you’re not on heroin, then?’ asked Margaret.

I rolled my eyes at her in exasperation.

‘Well, how am I supposed to know?’ she shouted.

‘I’ve got to go to the loo first,’ I said.

‘I’ll come with you,’ offered Margaret.

‘No, you won’t.’ I broke into a run.

I reached it just before she did and slammed the door in her face.

‘Get lost,’ I shouted from behind the locked bathroom door. ‘Or I’ll start shooting up just to annoy you.’

As the plane took off from JFK, I settled back in my seat and I was surprised to find that I felt intense relief. I had the strange feeling that I was being airlifted to safety. I was suddenly very glad to be leaving New York. Life hadn’t been easy lately. So little room to manoeuvre.

I was skint, I owed money to nearly everyone. I laughed to myself because for a minute there I really did sound like a drug addict. I didn’t owe that kind of money, but I was up to the limit of both my credit cards and I’d had to borrow from every single one of my friends.

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