Eggs Benedict

Awarded second prize in Cambridge Writers Short Story Competition 2014.

Eggs Benedict, crispy bacon, Belgian waffles. Stuffed at breakfast. The waffles, strangers to the continent of Europe, just a trifle stale in the Caribbean heat.

He arrives with effort, she follows with the downcast eyes, her hair a little straggled. Is it that look that gives her away? She’s not alone. There are other thin people lost in this little paradise.

Now they sit. The table grates on the terrace tiles, moved to make more space. He looks outwards, studying other guests while his bottom, with rolls of fat, overlaps the seat. She faces the wall.

A young waitress appears and flees. Another takes her place – her turn today. She steps forward, tugging downwards at her short black skirt.

‘Full plate for me, the lot, with an extra egg, lovey,’ he chortles, waving his podgy hands perilously near her thighs, she jumps, he chortles this time without words, chins oscillating to his beat. Dampness shows through the armpits of his shirt.

‘Could … I …’ Her words come separated by anxious ellipses.

‘No dear.’ He turns from his wife and winks to the shuffling girl in black, still tugging. ‘She’ll have the fruit plate. I know what’s best for her.’ His waving hand raps back on the table, a little hard, she flinches.

‘Yes, the fruit plate.’ She lapses into safer silence.

The waitress leaves, glancing sympathy across the table. An extra egg will come with extra garnish, something less edible from the kitchen staff.

More guests, more waffles; the eggs slightly dry.

‘Great night.’ He throws the words to a hurriedly passing pair; disgust breaks through their smiles as they remember exactly what happened last night.

His eyes scan the crowd, eyes moving slowly over breasts and bums, young flesh.

‘See you at the beach,’ he oozes to another, while a piece of egg slides downwards through his facial hair.

Her thoughts come out for all to hear. What to wear, to hide? Beachwear shows too much. His eyes won’t stray over her body, but others will see the marks of what he does.

‘We’re going snorkelling,’ he announces loudly to another breakfast-ready trio.

Their look says they have a plan to run from shark infested water, as though he has announced a chemical attack, terrorists on the rampage, the Spanish Inquisition – no one expects that. The reminiscence of a smile lights her eyes for less than a millisecond.


‘Come on,’ he growls.

She struggles clumsily to meet the command. Her overstuffed bag swings to hit her hips. Overstuffed with his hat, his glasses, his book, his wishes. She leaves the fruit.


She can’t hear him. It’s so blue, fish so fishy. Can’t hear him but still can feel the words. He snorkels just to leer, getting close to bodies he would touch, stroke … She turns. His body in her face magnified and crystal clear in her mask. A fat, hairy, greasy beast next to her in the water. She snorkels off, moving faster than the whale. It’s dangerous. There will be words later, but now she’s out of reach. The coral draws her into a different world, shapes and colours not yet ruined. Fish chase fish and it’s not so safe down here. Keep out of the way or you’ll be eaten, beaten, crushed.

She see’s a jelly fish with long blue tentacles of sting. It jellys towards him. A giggle gives her a mouthful of sea water. But his hide is too thick. Fat man one, jelly fish zero. Have you any bigger relatives, she asks, bring them along?

She turns. What is that? Under the shelf of rock, glinting in the rays of watery sun. Is it treasure or a glint of hope? A secret? She can keep secrets.


Hamburgers, chips, a bread roll or two, a beer, another beer, another … There seems no end to what he can shovel into that mouth. The sound of it, slurp slurp slurp as he sucks up the last morsels and looks for more. Lunch is hoovered up in minutes. It just seems longer. She pushes lettuce around with her fork.

He barely makes the sun-bed. The one in the shade, the last one in the shade. He’s snoring even before she can find a patch of sand to sit. Her bag now heavy with his hat, his high-power binoculars, his magazine with sticky pages, his bottle of something to keep him away from hangover hate. He snores again. The next couple make a stifled sound of nausea. They’d move except their sun-bed came at the 5.00am bagging time. They’d not give up that hard won territory for any snorts and grunts. A dribble of tomato ketchuped saliva escapes onto his chin. She coughs to hide his sound of fart.


He wakes. He groans. He snarls, ‘Your bag quick.’

His words blow out into the blue blue sky, carried on the brochure perfect cooling breeze. Their sound circles the other sunning couples. ‘Quick, I said.’

Horror over the cabanas, thatched huts with a pattern of male baldness.

His words don’t fall on deaf ears. They don’t fall on her deaf ears. Deafness wouldn’t be safe even if the ringing from last night’s slap made it hard to make out exactly what excess of something he wanted. No, the demands don't fall on deaf ears or any of her ears at all.


It’s a discrete hotel, many things it doesn’t see – like livid bruises.

‘Where’s my fucking wife,’ he whines.

It’s a discrete hotel, many things it doesn’t see – like missing wives.

‘Where’s my fucking wife,’ he whines louder and often.

Discrete hotels only like the fucking in private, not spoken in anger. If it’s angry do it in private. That’s why the guests have such private rooms. Private rooms for private anger. Missing wives are two a penny, cent, yen, euro but credit cards will do nicely to stay missing.


She walks alone. Is this the time to search out the sparkly treasure seen on her snorkelling trip? Buried secrets, perhaps a pirate hoard. No, she’s off on a boat with Raymondo. Not what you think at all. Ray is a photographer, video pictures taken at your pleasure, in private. He is actually called Ted. Raymondo is his working name – one to fit in and even his medallion is fake, but his pictures aren’t. She still may hear the slapped ringing in her ears but it reminds her of cash tills. Ray has it on camera, discretely. It helps in court, with the divorce settlement. She’s used Raymondo before. This is the third fat husband she’s left.