Angela's stories · April · blossom

The Room Mate

By Angela Gallagher

IT was a bit of an experiment for me, to be honest – going on holiday as a single. Single. I hadn’t been that for a long time. I was used to fairly exotic long-haul with Quentin: his city broker salary could take it with barely a dent but things were different now, of course. AngelaWell, at least until the divorce settlement came through; things would get back onto an even-keel then and I’d be back to more of what I was used to, but for now things were a bit tight. So a week in Kos with Single Shares it was.

I’ve been a bit anxious for the last three weeks actually; ever since I found out I was sharing with someone called Blossom. Blossom, I ask you. Well, it conjures a picture, doesn’t it? I instantly knew exactly what she’d be like: kind of hippy-ish, earth-mother-y. Green Party supporter – or worse, a socialist. A Stevie Nicks look-a-like with long scarves and longer skirts. All hemp and save-the-planet. Everything you could wish for to put a downer on your holiday.

So if she thought we were going to bond and be friends forever she had another think coming. I would spend as little time in her company as I could get away with. I had a plan to be up and out early. The travel company had arranged communal breakfasts but I didn’t really do breakfast so I’d be happy with a Bloody Mary from the beach bar. Just me and my Stella McCartney sarong, somewhere quiet where the others – and especially Blossom – wouldn’t find me.

I knew we weren’t all arriving on the same flight so my hopes were that I’d get to our room first, bag the best bed, make sure all my things were in the wardrobe before she took all the hangers, and just generally carve out my space. So it was a bitter disappointment when, having retrieved my matching Louis Vuitton luggage from the carousel and found the all-too-smiley Single Shares rep holding up her well-used bit of cardboard, I spotted the very obvious Blossom heading towards us.

She wore a stripey cotton maxi skirt and a long whispy scarf wrapped several times round her neck, leather sandals and a billowy top. Her hair was pink. Her skin was grey: she didn’t look well at all.

Walking alongside her was very-obviously-not Blossom. A great lump of a girl, five foot ten at least, tattooed and Doc Martin-ed. Those Doc Martins reminded me of the boys at the comp down the road from my school – mine was a private school, of course. She seemed to be holding Blossom up. Before long Smiley Single Shares Rep had dashed over, looking professionally concerned.

“I think it was the coffee you got me,” Blossom was saying to Not-Blossom.

The upshot was the mini bus taking the few of us who’d arrived to the hotel, left without Blossom and Smiley Rep and we were left to fend for ourselves at the hotel. Still, at least my hopes of getting to the room first had panned out, and you never knew – maybe Blossom was so ill she’d have to go home and I’d end up with a room to myself. Result!

This hope was dashed fairly quickly. I’d barely got my case open when I heard a noise at the door and standing there was Not-Blossom.

“I’m Blossom,” she said.

I was so shocked I just stood there looking at her for several seconds before saying, stupidly, “Your Doc Martins remind me of the boys at my old school.”

There was nothing really she could say to that. She took in my case on the bed and assessed she was left with the other and put her tiny, tatty suitcase on it. I just stood staring at her. Everything about her was grubby, and there was now a very definite smell of body odour in the room.

“I’m going to have a shower,” she said, “Unless you want one first, of course.”

Is it terrible of me to say I didn’t like the idea of following her into the shower? Though I was grateful she was familiar with the concept of showering because frankly I’d been doubting it up till then.

“Yes, I’ll go first – I was just about to jump in.” And with that I escaped into the bathroom.

It was a relief to shut the door behind me: this was becoming a nightmare. Maybe I could complain to Smiley Rep and insist they move her. I mean it wasn’t reasonable to expect me to share with someone with such personal hygiene issues. This was so unfair; if they didn’t move her my holiday would be ruined and what money I had for holidays would have been wasted. I slipped under the shower and blotted it all out. I stayed under the hot water for ages; I felt unclean just sharing space with Blossom. When I finally emerged I realised I’d been in such a hurry to escape her I’d gone in without my toiletry bag or robe. I wrapped myself in a towel and went back into the bedroom to quickly grab them.

Blossom was nowhere to be seen, which was a relief. I thought maybe she was on the balcony or gone to get a drink. I headed for the bed and my suitcase, but it wasn’t there. Had I misremembered where I’d left it? I spun round and with a rising sense of panic realised neither it nor its matching vanity case were anywhere to be seen. Blossom’s grubby case was still on her bed. I tore onto the balcony but she wasn’t there. As I walked back into the room realisation dawned – just as Previously-Thought-To-Be-Blossom came in through the door.

“Hello,” she said, looking a much better colour than previously. “I’m Blossom.”

I imagined what my friends would do if they were here. Well, they’re all Quentin’s friends actually so I don’t see them anymore but I knew they’d find all this hilariously funny. All my clothes had gone – I had nothing.

Blossom gave me one of her sarongs. Gave, not leant. I thought that was kind.

© Angela Gallagher 2016


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