Janet Pywell ellie BravoTonight Auntie Annie’s best friends – the Greys, are hosting a farewell dinner for her

I remember the friends from the St. Patrick’s lunch when I first arrived in Belfast, and I am pleased I thought of a good excuse not to go.

She leaves for Canada tomorrow and she will be gone for a month.

If I was lonely before it will be worse without her.

It is a beautiful warm evening and I ride the Harley up the coast road to Ballycastle where I eat ice cream and walk around the fishing boats in the harbour. I motor along to the Giant’s Causeway then I tear back on the motorway as fast as I dare, opening the throttle, taking unnecessary chances.

I need the release of speed but not speeding points.

It is almost nine when I unlock the front door and the phone is ringing.

“Guess who has been here for the past two hours?” Jenny says by way of greeting. Her tone says don’t mess with me and she speaks quickly. “Elly, you’ve got to speak to Kat. One way or the other you have to sort it.”

I tuck the phone under my ear and find an open bottle of Rioja in the kitchen. I pull the cork and pour a large glass.

“Why should I phone her? She was the one that left me?”

“She’s really sorry! She’s upset about everything. She said she moved in with Marcella for a few days because of what happened at work. Things aren’t great between them and so she’s back in your apartment and she wants you to come home.”

“That’s convenient!” I gulp quickly and the wine spreads comfortingly through my body. “She wants me to go back to London as if nothing has happened?”

“Don’t play the saint! I know your track record too.”

“Mine wasn’t serious! It was a fling, a few years ago, and it certainly didn’t affect our work.”

“It’s not the point.”

I stand at the window and gaze across the Lough listening to Jenny pleading with Kat’s case.

“She misses you. She said she still loves you.”

“She ruined my one opportunity at the job I wanted. I worked so hard putting the marketing seminars together and she gave my job to a moron. She knew what it meant to me!”

“She never expected you to run off to Belfast. None of us did!”

“I couldn’t bear to be in London. You know that. I was so angry. I couldn’t face going into the office. Besides, I spent a few weeks staying with you and I’ve been here in Belfast for over a month, so she’s had time to sort herself out.”

“You’re in a job that pays you less than half of what you earned over here. You’re living with Auntie Annie when you have a lovely apartment near the river. You’ve left all your friends and family behind, and on top of all that, you don’t even sound happy.”

“Well, I am happy!” I stare out of the window across the Lough. “I’m making new friends and I’m settling in. Simon has asked me to stay on and there’s a chance of him offering me shares in the company at the end of the year if we do well.”

“Is that really what you want?” she pauses. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life in Northern Ireland, so far from us?” I imagine her dark blue inquisitive eyes challenging me.


“Elly, have you met someone else?”

I let the silence hang in the air.


“She’s just a friend.” I unhook my hair and it tumbles around my shoulders.

“Oh no! Who is she?”

“Her name is Maria, and she’s a happily married woman with a lovely daughter. There’s nothing in it. We’re friends. We work together and she’s straight.”

“Does she know you’re gay?”

“It’s not important.”

“Oh Elly, don’t get involved with married women, especially once you work with. You’re very vulnerable at the moment. Don’t rush into another relationship.”

“I’m not rushing into anything. A trip to the cinema and dinner with her and her eight-year-old daughter hardly constitutes a budding romance or classed as being involved…”

“Don’t fall for someone who is not in a position to return your affections. What you had with Kat was very special.”

“If it was that special Kat wouldn’t have been having an affair with Marcella since before Christmas and she certainly wouldn’t have given my promotion to some dick-head in the office, would she?”

“She really regrets it. The two of you were invincible before and there’s no reason why you can’t be again.”

“If we were so invincible then why did we split up?”

“These things happen but they can be repaired.”

“This can’t!” But there is no sense in arguing so I change the subject. “I’m taking Annie to the airport tomorrow. She’s flying to New York then up to Toronto.”

“You’re going to be very lonely without her.”

“I’m lonely now,” I whisper.