Nina sighed in exasperation.
‘David, what are you doing?’ When there was no response she tried again. ‘David! I only sent you in to get some beers, how difficult can it be?’
David slowly withdrew his head from the fridge and straightened his body to its full height. ‘Well, I…’
‘Oh for God’s sake, people are waiting! It’s not as if we entertain much as it is.’ Nina strode forwards, pushing David out of the way. ‘Move! I’ll get them myself!’ She grabbed several packs, slammed the fridge door and headed back out to the wrap-around terrace imprisoning him in their home for this two-week holiday. There was no escape from the apartment, and Nina, wanting to show off their sea-front ‘home from home’, had invited several of their holiday neighbours over for Sunday afternoon drinks. Having been sent in for more beers, David had stood, leaning into the fridge, enjoying the cool and a few precious moments to himself. He had been desperately trying to convince himself, for some time now, that the way Nina treated him was okay. She had endured a lot of emotional trauma in her past, so it wasn’t her fault really, was it?
At home, things were at least bearable, as they were both at work during the day and Nina spent a lot of evenings out with ‘the girls’ doing God knows what. But David didn’t really care as it meant he had the house to himself and could listen to his beloved Mozart at full-blast – it wasn’t the same through headphones.
But this holiday, where they were imprisoned 24/7 was testing David to his limits. Nina didn’t like sight-seeing or walking – content to lie on the sun lounger all day, gossiping with her new best friends. That would be okay if David had been allowed to go out on his own and explore, but Nina expected him to be at her beck and call at all times.
‘For God’s sake, David, no one else’s husband wanders off on their own on holiday. It’s a time for us to be together.’ This has been accompanied by a flirtatious wink which had triggered a familiar sense of panic in David. He knew how this Sunday afternoon drinks session would play out. Nina would get drunk and insist they head for the bedroom and David’s ultimate nightmare would begin all over again, the session ending with the usual shouting, tears and recriminations.
Suddenly, David knew he could not deal with another of these scenes, however much he felt sorry for Nina. He felt a cold, visceral anger start to take seed deep inside him and knew he had to get away – now.
He strode into the bedroom, changed into a pair of trousers, grabbed his wallet, phone and car keys and left.
A few hours and many missed calls from Nina later, David found himself enjoying a beer in a beach bar fifty miles further along the coast. As he drove along the coast road, the anger that had taken root grew and grew, and David knew that things could never go back to the way they were.
Nina’s patience with David had worn thin long ago; he was so pathetic – never stood up for himself, wasn’t even really a proper man. She wondered why she stayed with him, but deep down, she knew the reason; money and security. Her childhood had been a series of late-night flits, with her hapless parents permanently on the verge of eviction. Nina had hated that rootless existence and had determined at an early age that her life was going to be very different.
She couldn’t believe her luck when, at just nineteen she met David – a trainee solicitor, able to give Nina the security she craved. Everything had been just as she wanted it for the first few years. David adored her and had encouraged her to continue her training as a beauty therapist, and she still enjoyed being around other women, gossiping about the latest celebrity scandal. Nina knew she still needed David to maintain the lifestyle she’d always wanted, but, God, he was annoying, and as for their sex life... the less said about that the better!
A while after she had returned to her guests armed with the drinks – God, he couldn’t even do that properly! Nina became aware that David hadn’t reappeared but she was enjoying herself too much to worry – let him sulk. It was more fun without him anyway. After a while her new friends picked up on the fact that David hadn’t reappeared. ‘Oh he’s just had to deal with a work thing,’ she said, inwardly seething. When everyone had gone, Nina staggered around the apartment looking for David, and eventually through a drunken haze, realised he’d gone...and taken the rental car. She tried ringing him over and over, her fury growing.
David knew that he had to return to the apartment if only to get his passport, but he also knew that it was time to face facts...and Nina, and admit the relationship was over. Now that his anger had been recognised and unleashed he knew that the marriage would become toxic.
He arrived braced for the inevitable onslaught but was greeted by an astonishingly contrite and apologetic Nina.
‘I’m so sorry, David. I’ve been such a bitch. I promise things will change from now on. Look, I’ve poured some of your favourite red wine and even found some Mozart for you. Let’s talk and sort stuff out.’
As he became aware of the music flooding the room David was speechless, this wasn’t how he’d imagined this playing out. He allowed himself to succumb to this new Nina as she led him to the sofa.
‘Cheers, to us,’ said Nina as they clinked glasses.
‘Cheers. Look...Nina, things have got to change---’
‘They will, babe, I promise.’
As David slipped into unconsciousness, he realised he should have known that Nina would always get her own way.