Tranquillity becomes a nightmare with one simple phone call
YOU never signed up for any of this, you think dismally. It's 11am on a Sunday morning and you're standing in the flower-scented surrounds of a picturesque holiday cottage with your mobile phone to your ear.
The house belongs to your parents, currently enjoying a three-week holiday in Spain, and you're there to water the pots and hanging baskets.
You arrived yesterday afternoon, alone, because the children were too tied up with exam revision or sports activities, and your husband had volunteered to stay home with them.
The little seaside village was tranquil and filled with bird-song, the weather was warm; a glorious red sun sank slowly below the horizon as you enjoyed a solitary walk on the beach.
All you really had to do was water the flowers before lazily settling down with a thriller and a glass of decent red. Such peace!
It would have been nice if your daughter had been able to come; you could have spent some quality girl time together.
However, with just a few weeks left before her Junior Cert, she couldn't spare the time.
Or so she said. But now it's the following morning and your husband's on the phone saying that he can't get her out of the scratcher.
He's called her several times already, he says, but she keeps moaning that she's tired.
He has to take your son to a match and they won't be back until late afternoon, so he's also, er, wondering if there's any chance you'll be home in time to get the dinner.
Right, you say glaring at a romantic couple enjoying a hand-in-hand stroll on the beach below the house. No problem.
And oh, he says, the kids' school uniforms will probably need to be sorted, and can you get a few litres of milk and some ham and a loaf of bread on the way home, because he forgot.
He was up at seven, he reminds you, to finish painting the bathroom.
No problem, you say, gritting your teeth, you'll do the shopping and get home in time to cook the dinner, iron the uniforms and make the school lunches.
As your peaceful morning shatters into a million different pieces, you stamp down to the beach for a last walk along the waves.
The honeymooners are just ahead of you, meandering along wistfully, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.
You crunch along noisily behind them, thinking bitterly: You poor fools! You think this goes on forever? Don't make me laugh!
They turn and look back at you nervously.
Actually, you've been talking aloud.