Home > Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(5)

Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(5)
Marian Keyes

Work in the hotel where I was an assistant manager had become harder and harder to do. There were times when I walked through the revolving doors to start my shift and found myself wanting to scream. Eric, my boss, had been very bad tempered and difficult. I had been sick a lot and late a lot. Which made Eric more unpleasant. Which, naturally, made me take more time off sick. Until my life had shrivelled down to two emotions. Despair when I was at work, guilt when I wasn’t.

As the plane cut through the clouds over Long Island, I thought fiercely ‘I could be at work now. I’m not and I’m glad.’

I closed my eyes and unwelcome thoughts of Luke came barging in. The initial pain of rejection had shifted slightly to make room for the pain of missing him. He and I had practically been living together and I felt his absence like an ache. I shouldn’t have started thinking about him and what he had said because it made me feel a bit hysterical. I became seized by an almost uncontrollable compulsion to find him that very minute, tell him how wrong he was and beg him to take me back. To get such an uncontrollable compulsion on an airborne plane at the start of a seven-hour flight was a foolish thing to do. So I fought back the urge to pull the communication cord. Luckily the air hostess was on her way round with the drinks and I accepted a vodka and orange with the same gratitude that a drowning girl might accept a rope.

‘Stop it,’ I muttered as Margaret and Paul stared at me with white, anxious faces. ‘I’m upset. Anyway, since when wasn’t I allowed to have a drink?’

‘Just don’t overdo it,’ said Margaret. ‘Promise me?’

Mum took the news that I was a drug addict very badly. My youngest sister, Helen, had been watching daytime television with her when Dad broke the news. Apparently after he had got off the phone from Brigit, he ran into the sitting-room and, all of a dither, blurted out ‘That daughter of yours is a drug addict.’

All Mum said was ‘Hmmm?’ and continued watching Ricki Lake and the big-haired trailer-park trash.

‘But I know that,’ she added. ‘What are you getting your knickers in a knot about?’

‘No,’ said Dad, annoyed. ‘This isn’t a joke. I’m not talking about Anna. It’s Rachel!’

And apparently a funny expression appeared on Mum’s face and she kind of lurched to her feet. Then, with Dad and Helen watching her – Dad nervously, Helen gleefully – she felt her way blindly into the kitchen and put her head on the kitchen table and started to cry.

‘A drug addict,’ she sobbed. ‘I can’t bear it.’

Dad put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

‘Anna maybe,’ she wailed. ‘Anna certainly. But not Rachel. It’s bad enough having one, Jack, but two of them. I don’t know what they do with the bloody tinfoil. I really don’t! Anna goes through it like wildfire and when I ask her what she does with it, you can’t get a straight answer out of the child.’

‘She uses it to wrap the hash into little parcels when she’s selling it,’ supplied Helen helpfully.

‘Mary, shut up about the tinfoil a minute,’ said Dad, as he tried to formulate a plan for my rehabilitation.

Then his head snapped back to Helen. ‘She does what?’ he said, aghast.

Meanwhile, Mum was furious.

‘Oh “shut up about it” is it?’ she demanded of Dad. ‘It’s all very well for you to say shut up about the tinfoil. You’re not the one who has to roast a turkey and goes to the press to get a sheet of tinfoil to cover the fecker with and finds there’s nothing there only a roll of cardboard. It’s not your turkey that ends up as dry as the Sahara.’

‘Mary, please, for the love of God…’

‘If she only told me she’d used it, it wouldn’t be so bad. If she left the cardboard roll out I might remember to get more the next time I went to Quinnsworth…’

‘Try and remember the name of the place that that fellow went in to,’ he said.

‘What fellow?’

‘You know, the alcoholic, the one who embezzled all that money, he was married to that sister of the one you go on the retreats with, you know him.’

‘Patsy Madden, is that who you’re talking about?’ asked Mum.

‘That’s the lad!’ Dad was delighted. ‘Well, find out where he went to, to get help for the jar.’

‘But Rachel doesn’t have a problem with drink,’ protested Mum.

‘No,’ said Dad. ‘But they do a whole load of stuff in whatever the name of the place is. Drink, drugs, gambling, food. Sure you can get addicted to nearly anything these days.’

Dad bought a couple of the glossy women’s magazines every month. Ostensibly for Helen and Anna, but really for himself. So he knew about all sorts of things that fathers really shouldn’t: self-mutilation, free radicals, AHAs, Jean-Paul Gaultier and the best fake tans.

So Mum got on the phone and made discreet enquiries. When pressed she said that a distant cousin of Dad’s was showing a bit too much fondness for alcohol, thanked the woman for her concern and quickly got off the phone.

‘The Cloisters,’ she said.

‘The Cloisters!’ Dad exclaimed in relief. ‘It was driving me mad not being able to remember. I wouldn’t have got a wink of sleep, I would have just lain there all night racking my brain…’

‘Ring them,’ Mum interrupted tearfully.

3

The Cloisters cost a fortune. That’s why so many pop stars went there. Some people’s health insurance covered the costs but, as I’d lived away from Ireland for about eight years, I didn’t have any. I didn’t have any in New York either, come to think of it. I’d always intended to get round to it, some day, when I was mature and responsible and grown-up.

Because I had neither health insurance nor a penny to my name, Dad had said that he’d foot the bill, that it was worth it to sort me out.

But that meant that as soon as I arrived home and staggered in through the front door, jetlagged and depressed with a Valium and vodka hangover, Helen greeted me by yelling from the top of the stairs, ‘You stupid cow, that’s my inheritance money you’re using to dry out with, you know’

‘Hello, Helen,’ I said wearily.

Then she said in a surprised voice, ‘God, you’ve got thin. Emancipated looking, you skinny bitch!’

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