What's it gonna be? : A romantic comedy set in Mauritius

By Cassandra Piat

Women's fiction, Romance, Comedy & satire

Paperback, eBook

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8 mins

Chapter One

Early 2000s - In a era before smartphones . . .

I jumped in surprise when I heard my phone ring. Picking it up distractedly, I was roughly shaken back to reality at my boyfriend’s voice on the other end of the line, sounding none too pleased.

“Lucy, where are you?!” he asked impatiently.

Oh blast! I looked at my watch, it was already five past eight! I was meant to be meeting him at the movies at eight and I was late . . . again!

“I’m on my way! Just out the door,” I stammered, bouncing off the couch and throwing my book on the table.

“Lucy, will you ever be on time - ever?” He replied tersely, clearly exasperated. “Hurry up, please.”

“Be there in five minutes!” I exclaimed, as I raced to the bedroom. I flung open the cupboard doors and my heart plummeted - finding something to wear in this mess was a challenge equal to climbing Mount Everest solo!

I groaned in despair. I had promised, no make that, ‘promised, promised, promised’ Matt I wouldn’t be late this time. I scavenged my way through the pile of clothes on the floor like a dog digging a hole in the sand. Why was it that every time I was in a hurry, all my decent clothes were either dirty, unironed or had done a runner on me? I mean, just ask me “What clothes don’t you want to wear tonight Lucy?” and ta- daammm, you’ll find those clothes clean, impeccably ironed and neatly folded or hung up in my cupboard. But what I would like to wear - nowhere in sight!

I suddenly remembered the jeans I’d worn the previous day and raced to the bathroom where I had seen them last.

Got’em! I exclaimed happily to myself and started pulling them on. I stopped half way at the sight of a coffee stain on the left leg. Damn! Now I remembered why I’d thrown them on the floor yesterday!

What now? I looked around desperately trying to spot something else suitable, but realising it was a lost cause and that the stained jeans would have to do, I pulled them on, grabbed my keys in one hand, my shoes in the other and raced out the door. At least the movie theatre would be dark and everyone would have gone in by the time I got there, I tried to reassure myself.

Luckily I lived only a few minutes’ drive from the cinema complex. As I parked my car, the smell of pizza emanating from the local pizzeria made my stomach rumble and my mouth water. No time for that now, I thought sadly as I climbed the stairs two at a time. I spotted Matt straight away. He was pacing up and down near the entrance, looking around - glancing at his watch ten times in the five seconds it took me to reach him! He didn’t look happy. He finally saw me and, although my unrealistic self was hoping for a little smile, even just a fake ‘yuck, I’ve eaten a bitter lemon’ one, all I got was a glare as he heaved an exaggerated sigh.

As I reached the big glass entrance doors of the cinema - the one where everyone flashes those discreet looks at themselves to check that everything is all in place before entering - I snuck a quick glance at my reflection. I had completely forgotten to brush my hair, and the pencil I had stuck in my ponytail while reading was still proudly sticking out!

Oh well, no time to do anything about it now. Matt looked me up and down, clearly unimpressed by my fashion statement. He remained unamused as I jumped up, ignored his icy stare and planted a kiss on his cheek.

“Hi! Sorry I'm late,” I said cheerfully, grinning mischievously up at him. “Is the unbrushed, just got out of bed, pencil sticking out hairstyle the new ‘in’ thing?” he asked irritably, giving me another once-over. I rolled my eyes at him, taking the pencil out and making a feeble attempt at straightening up my hair.

Matt has been my significant other for the past four years. He’s older than me, not the ‘you could be my father’ type of older, but still, eight years older. We met at a party I had gone to with my boyfriend at the time, Nick. Things between Nick and I had become as fizzy as a flat Coke by then, but we were still together, I guess both not wanting to be the one to do the dirty deed and leave.

When Matt and I had met, he had looked towards me with his beautiful blue eyes twinkling playfully and had said, “Hi! I’m Matt. My friends call me Matthew Carl James Riley for short.”

“I’m Lucy,” I had answered, giggling. “It’s nice to meet you, Matt.”

“Oh, you can call me Matthew Carl James Riley,” he had replied poker-faced, and I had burst out laughing.

As he had grinned back at me, I had felt something stirring deep inside, which had surprised me as he wasn’t my type physically. Not that I didn’t find him cute, because I did, but let’s say he wasn’t the type I usually fell for. He has the most amazing aquamarine eyes, light brown hair which he usually keeps pretty short, a nice body (i.e., muscles in all the right places) and a smile to die for – his eyes light up and they crinkle up on the sides, and it does all sorts of strange things to me. The downside is he isn’t that tall – he’s only about five foot nine which makes him only a few inches taller than me and therefore much shorter than the men I am usually attracted to. But he has an undeniable charm and has always been quite popular with the ladies.

Our stubborn and highly independent natures have led to many pointless arguments, some break ups, but we have always ended up together again. We have a lot of fun together, are best friends and more importantly, he makes me laugh like no one else can. The only problem is, despite all this, I don’t see us ever getting to the altar, as he has a major ‘commitment phobia’ - an irrational fear of the “M” word. Even the word ‘wedding’ sets him off and makes him start to hyperventilate – it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating!! Seriously, it must be the scariest thing a man can hear these days. Instead of shouting “BOO” to a man, try shouting “MARRIAGE” and see how high he jumps and how loud he screams!

Matt’s already thirty-four years old, and although there’s nothing wrong with being thirty-four and I love him very much, I’ve decided I don't intend to wait much longer for him to make up his mind.

We walked towards the ticket counter, it was much lighter inside than I’d anticipated and my coffee stain seemed to have tripled in size since I’d left home! As I was putting my finger in my mouth to rub it on the stain, hoping it might look like it was water that had wet my jeans, I heard a woman’s voice saying hello to Matt. Although I didn’t recognise the voice straight away, the little chill that ran through my body gave me a pretty good idea. Surely not? I glanced over Matt’s shoulder to have a look, finger still in my mouth. And there she was - Jessica!!

OH MY GOD! She was back! My finger fell out of my mouth as my mouth fell to the floor.

I leaned my face on Matt’s shoulder, realising it was the only way to get my mouth to stay shut, and tried to force a smile with my deformed lips. She said a cheerful hello and I let out something sounding like a cross between a bark, a groan, a squeak and a grunt! I glanced at Matt to see how he was reacting to her and his smile was doing at least three laps around his face. I could have strangled him there and then!

Jessica was an ex-girlfriend of course, but not any ex - she was the ex! She was the love of his life, the one who had broken his heart. Although it’s been over four years, I know he still thinks of her and probably wishes I were more like her. I mean who wouldn’t? Look at her, with her long blonde hair, her big blue eyes, her sparkling (very clean) white jeans and her Pamela Anderson sized breasts! Perhaps she isn’t beautiful but there’s something about her, a je-ne-sais-quoi that makes you look twice.

My eyes travel down to my stained jeans and I cringe in embarrassment. Ha! So much for a dark theatre, I grumbled inwardly. Then, as I once again gaze at her beautiful, immaculately brushed hair, my hand unconsciously rises up to smooth down my own very scruffy look.

Luckily she’s been living abroad since they broke up. I hate her! I thought darkly. Look at the way his eyes are sparkling at her. Look at his smile - it’s almost covering the bald spot on the top of his head! And, hang on! Is that drool I see at the corners of his mouth?!!

I suddenly realised she and Matt had turned towards me and were both looking at me expectantly. I looked from one to the other, before mumbling a lame, “Umm . . . Sorry, I didn’t quite get that . . .”

Making a special effort to come back to the land of the non-idiotic people, I asked her what she’d been up to and how long she was back for. Holding my breath, I waited for her answer, which with my luck, would be; “I’m back for good”. But it seems the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars, because it turned out she was only back for a few days.

As she went on to tell us about her new job in Paris, my gaze swept down to her chest. That sure is a major thing we don’t have in common, I thought despairingly. She has a HU-GE pair. I stared sadly down at my own flat chest . . . I have a serious case of ‘fried-egg syndrome’ and it’s quite depressing when I have Miss Baywatch in front of me. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Matt to go from those to mine!

Suddenly frustrated, I decided I’d had enough of playing gooseberry and nudged Matt gently on the arm. “The movie’s about to start, we’d better get some seats.”

“Why don’t you join us?” Matt said to Jessica as my head did a 360 pivot on the spot and my mouth fell open again. I couldn’t believe him! I pinched him hard, keeping a big fake smile on my face. I felt him wince and she probably caught on, but I didn’t care. I mean how much could one take? I know I can be a walkover at times but honestly, this was too much.

She smiled and told us she was with friends and was watching the other movie. I grabbed Matt’s arm and pulled him towards the cinema. I smiled, another fake one - they were starting to come pretty naturally to me now - and said goodbye to Jessica. She smiled back and I felt a bit guilty, her smile looked genuine.

“Oh Lucy!” she called out as we started walking off. I stopped and looked over my shoulder expectantly. “I think you must have spilt something on your jeans, there’s a brown patch above your left knee,” she said, her silky smile making my guilty feelings disappear as fast as they’d surfaced.

Gee, thanks for making sure everyone heard that! Write it on the front page of the newspapers why don’t ya? Better still, how about broadcasting it live on National TV, you stupid cow! I thought angrily as I felt myself fuming inside. But I forced another one of my fake smiles and feigned great surprise.

“Oh gosh,” I exclaimed, looking down at my jeans in mock surprise. “I hadn’t noticed . . . oh, how embarrassing!” and I scrubbed the stain pretending I was trying to remove it.

I looked up and caught Matt’s gaze – his blue eyes were sparkling with mirth as he stood there watching me and he was clearly having a hard time stopping himself from bursting out laughing. I narrowed my eyes at him, daring him to say a word and stormed off ahead of him, seething. He knew me too well and knew I had worn the jeans knowing full well they were dirty. I felt so humiliated, but then again, it was typical of me to put myself in such situations. Miss Perfect white jeans would never have left home with dirt stained jeans!

To top it off, the film was pretty much a disaster, especially for a 'happy ever after' type of person like me - it was about a fishing boat caught out in a storm and in the end they all drowned (took two whole hours!). They should have saved us the time and drowned after the first huge wave hit them, if you ask me!

“Next time I choose the movie, Matt!” I grumbled as I stomped ahead of him out of the cinema, still not over my humiliation. He looked at me and chuckled.

“Sure Luce, next time they’re showing Bambi or Snow White . . .” he snorted and I playfully slapped him on the arm as I felt a reluctant grin tug at my lips.

He’d made a lot of effort to get back into my good books during the movie, holding my hand, getting me chocolate in the middle of the movie and whispering stupid remarks in my ear, managing to make me laugh despite my firm intention to sulk for at least a week. He didn’t even complain when I grabbed his arm, digging my fingers painfully into it every time there was a tense moment – which was pretty much throughout the film, as wave after wave threatened to make the boat capsize.

As we walked back to the car park, I glanced at Matt and couldn’t help wondering if this film was some kind of sign telling me ‘quit, while you’re ahead – stop fighting the inevitable’. Oh no, it’s official, I’m becoming prematurely senile! Reading a sign from above about my love life in a ship-in-a-storm-and-they-all-die story! But then again . . . maybe that’s exactly what our relationship was like, a ship in a storm, the question being whether we’d end up beating the storm or sinking . . .



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