“Coming to bed, love?”
Kate looked into the other room. Darren was wearing the pyjamas he’d bought specially for the honeymoon, with blue and yellow stripes. It was almost midnight, but it was still warm inside the villa. The ceiling fans hummed.
“I’ll be there soon,” she said. “Just finishing off my drink.”
Her glass was still half-full. Sparkling rosé, her favourite. Darren had contacted the travel agents in advance, asked them to supply it as a special extra. In fact, he had booked the whole thing himself: the taxi to the airport, the flights, and the accommodation. He had even put together an itinerary for the week, packed with different activities.
On the first day they would scuba dive with a local marine biologist. On the second day they would go paragliding off the island’s highest peak. Kate hadn’t dared look at the rest of the week yet. It wasn’t quite how she had imagined their honeymoon. In fact, she didn’t really want to do anything. She just wanted to be there, together. But it was difficult to say that.
The ice bucket sat on the side of the coffee table, although most of the ice had melted. Kate poured the last of the wine into her glass, filling it until it just spilled over the side. She sipped quickly, trying not to make too much of a mess.
She tried to imagine what everyone was up to back home, what they had been doing since she and Darren left. She thought of them rushing around, clearing everything away, transporting all the gifts to their new home. It was hard to believe that home still existed on the other side of the world.
When she finished her drink, Kate lay down on the sofa for a moment. She looked up at the ceiling and watched the fan, spinning.
“Good morning, Mrs Anderson.”
Kate opened her eyes. The fan was still spinning, and her back ached. With some effort, she pushed herself upright. Darren stood by the sofa, a cup in his hand.
“What time is it?” Kate said, her voice croaking.
Darren smiled. “It’s the morning. Time for breakfast.” He held the cup out for her.
Kate turned and looked into the other room. The bed was already made. “Oh, God,” she said. “I’m sorry, Darren, I must have fallen asleep.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Kate took the cup. The coffee smelled delicious. “You’re not pissed off?”
Darren shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Not like we’re short on time.” He looked into the kitchen. “You want to come get some food?”
Kate smiled back, but her cheeks were hot with embarrassment. “That sounds nice. I might just pop outside quickly, though. Get some fresh air, wake myself up. I won’t be long.”
Darren bent down and kissed her on the forehead. “See you in a bit, Mrs Anderson.”
The name sounded strange. Kate whispered it under her breath, repeating the words. Mrs Anderson.
She was still wearing her clothes from the previous evening. Stepping outside, she felt the warmth of the sun, allied with a pleasant, gentle breeze. Because Darren had booked so far in advance, they had been able to get one of the best spots on the island, right on top of a private beach. Kate walked across the wooden decking, past varnished chairs and a table with a sunscreen attached.
The beach spread out in front of her, a wide stretch of pale yellow. She took her shoes off and walked barefoot, the sand warm against her skin. Wandering down the beach, Kate thought of the wedding. She remembered stepping out of the car decorated with a white ribbon at the front. One of the ushers held up an umbrella to protect her from the drizzle. Her father was there, ready for her. He had said he wasn’t sure about walking her down the aisle, that it didn’t feel right to give her away, as though she belonged to him. But she had insisted, and when the time came he looked prouder than she’d ever seen him before.
As they walked down the aisle, she knew everyone was looking at her. She focussed on walking, placing one foot in front of the other until she arrived at the altar. Kate remembered the look on Darren’s face, the way they gripped each other’s hands. She remembered the words said by the vicar: No one should enter into it lightly.
She remembered walking out of the church, the smiles and the confetti. Glasses of Pimm’s and a string quartet on the lawn. How when she finally sat down at the reception, she could barely keep her eyes open. The way her jaw ached from all the smiling.
Kate looked at the ocean. The water moved gently, thin waves rippling in the breeze, shimmering in the sunlight. At the cloudless horizon, the blue sky met the blue ocean, melting together. It went on, and on, and on.
Kate felt a presence beside her. Darren.
“Thought I’d come and join you,” he said. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m great,” Kate said, and then she stopped. “Actually, that’s not completely true.”
Darren narrowed his eyes. “Go on.”
“To be honest with you, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything.”
Darren let out a deep breath, and then he began to laugh.
“What is it?” Kate said.
He kissed the top of her head. “I was worried it was only me.”
They sat down together on the sand.
“How about I ring the scuba diving people,” Darren said. “I could cancel our session, and we could just spend the day on the beach.”
Kate breathed in the scent of the ocean. “I’d like that,” she said. “I’d like that a lot.”
Anton Rose lives in Durham, U.K. He writes stories and poems while working on a PhD, all fueled by numerous cups of tea. His work has appeared in a number of print and online journals, including Structo, The Alarmist, and Jersey Devil Press.