He was on vacation. He was supposed to have left all his problems behind. Two weeks on his own in a resort. No sisters, his sisters, expecting him to sort things out for them. No-one expecting him to run to their agenda.
He was in heaven. He went to activities on his own, talked to people he wanted to talk to when he wanted to talk to them, he ate food he chose and didn’t have people stealing it off his plate. He stayed up and out late. He went on tours to see things he wanted to see.
It lasted a week. Then, at lunch, the nasal cry of, “Darryl!” rent the air. He froze mid-chew on his delicious stir-fry and turned carefully in place. Bearing down on him were his sisters, Sheila and Mary. “I told you it was him,” Sheila added to Mary. They bustled over and sat down at his small, square table, opposite each other and on either side of him. “What are you eating that foreign muck for,” demanded Sheila in her penetrating nasal voice, “when you could be having a proper meal?”
“This is very healthy,” Darryl said defensively as he swatted Mary’s hand away from his prawns. “What are you two doing here?”
“Come to keep you company, of course,” beamed Sheila. “If you wanted to go away for a holiday you should have said and we could have gone up the coast to Tolly’s Caravan Park together. You shouldn’t have snuck away on your own, you must have been lonely this last week.”
“I wasn’t actually.” Darryl batted Mary’s hand away from his food again. “How could you afford to come here? You were saying just before I came away that you didn’t have any money and I thought you used all your leave when you two went on that girls’ trip to Bali?”
“We took time off from work without pay, the airfares were really cheap and we’re going to stay in with you.” Mary beamed at him.
“What about the meal tariff?” He looked from one sister to the other.
“Oh, we told the nice man at reception to put them on your account,” Mary said as she finally snaffled a prawn.
“Oh, did you?” Darryl stood. “Excuse me, I have to go see to something. Please, feel free to finish my lunch.” He hurried away, not caring what was going on at the table behind him.
All he had to do after that was call the consulate on their behalf. He refused to pay for their lawyer because he was one of the aggrieved parties. Sheila had been rendered speechless by his evidence that he had not given permission for her or Mary to put charges on his credit card.
He went home to a much quieter house and a less complicated life that didn’t involve Sheila’s ‘proper’ cooking. He had six months before they’d be back.
A work transfer to the other side of the country was looking good.