Janet Pywell ellie BravoAuntie Annie and I have fallen into a routine. She plays bridge on Friday nights, goes to Yoga on Wednesday evenings, plays golf on Monday afternoons then has dinner at the Club afterwards…

I have joined the Virgin gym in Holywood. I work out most mornings before I go to the office, and it means that if it is sunny or dry, I can go out after work for a walk or ride my Harley and explore the area.

Auntie Annie is back from her Yoga class and has changed out of her tracksuit. We are sharing a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. I fry diced chicken in soy sauce with garlic and chilli flakes and when it’s browned and tender, I throw it over salad with sweet corn, ripe baby tomatoes and fresh spring onions. I add basil leaves for decoration.


“Michael is leaving Australia tomorrow,” she says, referring to her son. “He’s going to Toronto.” She dabs her lips with a napkin.

I instantly think of Maria’s husband, also called Michael, and wished he would go to Canada.

“He’s going to work with David’s law firm,” she adds.

I stare out of the window across the Lough. My eyes rest on the spire of Jordanstown church, near to where Maria told me she lives, and further along the coast to the white apartments in the port of Carrickfergus that glisten in the evening sun.

“David and Angela have been on at me for ages to go over, and so I think I might spend the summer with them. David and I used to be very close growing up. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding so it will be lovely to spend more time with them all. It’s worked out perfectly. It’ll save me flying to Australia to see Michael, so I’ll look at flights after dinner.” She sips wine and regards me thoughtfully. “Perhaps you’d stay here and look after the house while I’m away. You seem to be settling in with Simon.”

“He’s rarely in the office.”

“He’s having a tough time with Louise. I think she gave him an ultimatum.”

“Ultimatum?” I look up quickly.

“About adopting a baby.”

I am washing the dishes when Jenny Skypes me, and like all older sisters, her voice takes on a bossy and petulant tone when she doesn’t get her own way.

“Kat phoned me again. I don’t know why you just don’t speak to her! She’s still in love with you, can’t you see that?”

“She doesn’t like to lose. Can you not see that? She is used to getting what she wants and I’ve always given in to her.”

“I feel sorry for her.”

“Don’t! That’s what she wants. She’s a saleswoman; one of the best in the UK. It’s a trick. She knows just how to play you like she does everyone else, including me. She’ll flash those big green eyes, flick her red auburn hair and hold a tissue to her nose. I’ve seen it all before.”

“So how long do you intend sulking over there?”

“I’m not sulking. I have a job.”

“It’s crap compared to what you were doing.”

“I like it.”


“My month is almost up and if Simon asks me to stay on. I think I might.”

“What about that guy who’s been giving you a hard time?”

“John? Simon’s sending him on a sales course, so hopefully, he’ll learn some manners.”

“Kat says if you won’t come home she’s moving out of your apartment.”

“That’s fine! I’ll rent it out. I’m still paying the mortgage and I assume Kat’s paying the bills.”

“Elly? What is it you want?”

I’m looking out of the lounge window, across the Lough. I know Michael is working away again this week in the south of Ireland. I am wondering what Maria and Lily are doing tonight.

“I don’t know,” I say, “I wish I did.”