Up in the Air

Creative writing submission from the Rest Less community – submit your entry here.

Up in the Air

 

Artur
Floss you don’t deserve this, but anyway, we are going to celebrate your birthday in a hot air balloon.

Floss
Why don’t I deserve it? (she looked at him with a smirk)

Artur
You know full well. (he looked down at her and kissed the top of her head) I promised myself I wouldn’t be made to look silly like last time and yet, here we are again.

Floss
Yeah, I know. I know. Here we are again. Moving on…
(They were the only people in the hot air balloon – apart from the guy operating the gas, so conversation was easy. Artur handed Floss a glass of champagne from the hamper he had bought). Thank you. Anything else in there? (And she tried to look inside before he snapped it shut)

Artur
Never you mind. There may be.

(Conversation was quiet for a minute whilst they sipped their drink and admired the view. A huge puff of gas brought them back to the present)

Floss
I was just remembering the first time I bolted. It was sort of funny, as well as slightly scary.

Artur
Well funny for you Madam, but not for me. I really do think you need help you know. It’s not normal to keep hitching up your skirts and running. Metaphorically speaking that is… (and he raised his glass which silenced her) I mean, if you didn’t want to meet, why the Hell did you drive over a hundred miles just to turn around again? Why didn’t you just call and say it was off?

Floss
(quiet for a minute and then she said) Well I had paid for the Dartford Crossing so I thought I wouldn’t waste it. And I just hoped I might change my mind by the time I got there.

Artur
(raises his eyebrows) But you wasted more on petrol you stupid Bim. It just wasn’t nice for Robbie either. He was looking forward to a nice walk and all he got was bundled into the car and a two hour drive.

Floss
I didn’t ask you to follow me.

Artur
Well I didn’t know what was going on. For fucks sake, do you know how bonkers you seem?

Floss                                                                                                                                    (laughing) I have to admit watching you in my rear view mirror was quite funny. Well, maybe just a little bit. You and that dog are just standing in the road watching me drive away.

Artur
You know many women would see me as a bit of a catch. Well most women apart from you.

Floss
Well if you don’t think I am interested why do you keep asking me out?

Artur
Do you know at three in the morning I often ask that self same thing myself. Anyway look at the view it is rather lovely. Are you warm enough? There are blankets over there (and he went and got a blanket. Wrapped it around her and kissed her on the top of her head)

Floss
Do you do that because I am small?

Artur
What?

Floss
You know what. Kissing me on the head like I am a little girl.

Artur                                                                                  
Well you are my little girl.

Floss
Don’t go building up your part. I may bolt.

Artur
(laughing) I would like to see that bearing in mind we are hundreds of feet above the ground. It was a good choice booking this… You can’t run!

Floss 
(laughing also) I remember driving home from your place and you had parked upon my drive having beaten me. I couldn’t believe it. Although I did stop off at the Sainsbury near you and buy my shopping.

Artur
Well there you are then. I only stopped for a Pee. Not a weekly shop. No wonder I beat you. But you still continued to be mean and wouldn’t let me in to use the bathroom.

Floss 
(laughing again) I remember. You had to sneak off to the Beach and find a bush. Luckily it was dark. (silence) The bracelet is lovely. Thank you.

Artur
Yes well if you don’t behave there won’t be any more!

Floss
That makes me sound like a kept woman. A Stepford Wife.

Artur
Agh you wanted to be one of those.

Floss
Yes I did. Once. A long time ago. Not now. Now I just like bolting. (and she raised her glass towards him) Have you forgiven me for Christmas Eve?

Artur
Absolutely not. That was absolutely unforgivable. Fancy just getting up and leaving the table and not saying a word.

Floss
Oh come on. I did tell the people at the table next door and they promised to say something to you when you returned. It’s not like I just up and left and didn’t say anything.

Artur 
(wincing) It’s painful to remember and YOU did just up and leave and you didn’t say a word to me. Can you imagine how I felt coming back and seeing your seat empty? I knew you had left. I just knew it. I walked around hoping to see you up at the Bar or somewhere and it was only when I came back and sat down, trying to look as if it was all normal that the bloke next door told me. And boy did he go to town telling me. Bloody Arse.

Floss 
(letting out a huge laugh) Oh I wish I could have been there.

Artur 
(looks at her and glares) Well obviously you don’t otherwise you wouldn’t have left, but I can reassure you that it wasn’t nice having some Oik bend over and tell me with his beery breath that “my bird” had said goodbye and left. And on Christmas Eve as well. You do take the ruddy biscuit, Floss, you really do.

Floss
Ah but you did follow me. (and she taps her nose in a knowing way)

Artur
Only because I was worried and wanted to know you got home safely. There were lots of drunks about and I was concerned for your safety. Although on reflection if anyone wanted to run off with you I think they would be welcome to you. And you had smashed down half a bottle of champagne; looked decidedly unsteady on your feet and who knows what you would have done. Floss, answer me this, WHY DO YOU DO IT?

Floss
I don’t know. , I just get panicked I guess. Or was bored…

Artur
Cheeky Cow. Thanks. (and he turned away) Look, I have a lot of good traits. A lot of women would give their eye teeth to be with me.

Floss
Okay – name them.

Artur
I live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the sea at Southend, It has delightful views of both the water and the infamous Southend pier. A wonderful 1930s Art Deco building. It’s very sought after.

Floss
Hmm It was built more for the Jewish community than for Gentiles. But yes, lovely all the same. However it smells of gefilte fish around the common ways which means I have to hold my nose until I get to your door. I say a full ten points for the wonderful location. Take 4 off for the cooking smells and no ventilation.

Artur
I have a very smart black jag. Top of the range. Full spec. Able to shoot up and down the M25 at will. Blah Blah.

Floss
With personalised number plates. Very infra dig. The personalised number plates mean a minus point on the scoring.

Artur
Ah this is something you like. My villa in Cyprus. Extra points have been awarded by you, I know, for the fact that it is northern Cyprus and not in the South.

Floss
Take five points away that it is a modern design in a gated community. I had dreams of it being in an Olive Grove with a couple of donkeys roaming freely and me going out there each morning picking lemons to squeeze into the pitcher of Pimms. A wonderfully rural property with wooden shutters and tiled floors and a balcony to have my early morning coffee on, whilst I wafted around in a cheesecloth kaftan and feet bare. Not a glass and steel design banged up against your neighbours. However, we can add ten points for the fact that it did have its own private pool and an en-suite with every one of the four bedrooms. However, Sweetie, it just goes to show that you can take the boy out of Essex, but not Essex out of the boy. (she ducks as Artur goes to flick her)

Artur
Miaow. You lived here once you know. (and he refills her glass)
I am the senior partner in a prestigious firm of Accountants. I have a very nice corner office. My own bathroom off it…

Floss 
(interrupting) Yes, why is that? (he didn’t reply) And a wonderfully soft and comfy sofa which looked rather like a Bonkette on which maybe previous conquests have been. So I will award ten points here for optimism, however misplaced.

Artur
I always take your calls, however busy I am and you know I was busy these past few weeks with the end of tax year.

Floss
(smiling at him from under her hat) Yes, I would hear you get up from your desk, open the door and whisper “hold my calls for a little while please” to an unknown person beyond and so I will award you fifty fuckin’ points for paying attention and making me feel important, especially as it was, as you kept reminding me, during the “End of Tax Year” when I knew you were super busy.

Artur
I took you to some rather sumptuous places to eat. We had copious cocktails at the American Bar. And private dining in Rules (somewhere you had wanted to eat in since 1977).

Floss
True. True. But I didn’t like the way you got smashed on two Mint Juleps. That makes you a lightweight and I had to assist you across The Strand and up Maiden Lane for dinner. Not a good look, and so I must deduct more points for non chivalrous behaviour.

Artur
I booked a holiday to Costa Rica as a surprise for you because you said you wanted some sunshine. I also said if you didn’t want to go bird watching I could arrange for you to go horse riding instead. Blimey Floss, you also said you hated flying coach, so I upgraded to business! How did I get that wrong?

Floss
You booked an “all inclusive” on a large complex. I was not going to be pushing my tray along the buffet table with one hundred and fifty other Brits any time soon. No Siree!

They both stopped and took in the view. Floss was pleased for the blanket and pulled it more tightly around her. He went and put his arms around her to keep the chill away. She lent against him.

Artur
Be nice to me. I bought you jewellery for Christmas and even though you bolted on me on Christmas Eve, during dinner, I still said you were allowed to keep it as a reminder of what you will come to regret losing. And you will you know, you will regret this. (he smiled at her)

Floss
That’s confidence for you. Didn’t your wife say you were a narcissist ?

Artur
Ex wife. (he corrected her with an old fashioned look) That drive home up the M25 was miserable. Awful. I felt so desolate. You can be such a mean girl.

Floss
You said it was an easy drive home. No one was about.

Artur
Well they weren’t, but I wasn’t going home in the best of circumstances.

Floss
Well you had an early night. Don’t complain, and you blocked me on Whatsapp, so if I had wanted to apologise I couldn’t have done.

Artur
Did you want to?

Floss
Probably not! But you shouldn’t block me. Anyway why are you taking me out today? You said you had met someone who was very nice and appreciated you,

Artur
I have and she does,

Floss
So why are you here? (she pouted and crossed her arms)

Artur
That, my dear, is the ten million dollar question. I guess I must just love being treated badly, especially by you.

Floss
I bet she’s boring. Where does she live?

Artur
Billericay. And don’t say anything mean about it.

Floss
No one lives in Billericay.

Artur
She does. Anyway I am saving a lot of money on fuel. She doesn’t bolt either.

Floss
Hmmm. Did you buy her jewellery for Christmas? Does she know you are taking me out today.

Artur
I didn’t know her at Christmas. Sort of. I said I had a previous engagement which was hard to cancel.

Floss
What are you doing about the holiday? Cancelling it?

Artur
Nope! I just changed the name. I am taking Pamela instead.

Floss
Who is Pamela? The Boring Bint from Billericay? Hmm. A lot of alliteration there. I should remember that…boring bint from Billericay.

Artur
You said you didn’t want to go there as it was all inclusive on a huge complex. Now shut up and enjoy the view. actually on second thoughts, close your eyes. I have something I want to give you.

Artur turned to get something out of the hamper. By the time he had found it and turned back, Floss had disappeared.

So did she bolt – or did she fall?

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