The Power of Love


    “Sea view, twin beds, with breakfast,” says the receptionist checking his computer.

    “I’m a restless sleeper,” David explains.

    “He didn’t ask,” says Sally.

    The receptionist hands them their keys.

    David thinks it would be a good idea to go to all the places they went on their Honeymoon. “It’s a magical place,” he says again. “It always has been. Don’t matter what’s going on in the rest of the world, coming to the seaside is like a bubble.”

    The pub in which they had their first drink as a married couple has gone. Instead, there are boards up all around the site so they can’t see anything but the tops of a crane and a huge pile of rubble.

    “Symbolic,” says Sally.

    David shrugs. “Regeneration,” he says. “Building something new and better.”

    There is a brief argument over where they went next all those years before. When they finally agree, and walk there down wind-blown, litter-strewn streets, David is hugely relieved to see the pub is still there, and open. Even better, it hasn’t changed much inside. He goes over to look at the jukebox, hoping to put on The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush, their song, but it isn’t on there. He buys their drinks and takes them over to the corner they sat in before.

    “What’s this?” asks Sally, even though she can see what it is.

    “Your drink,” says David.

    Sally rolls her eyes. “I’d rather have had a white wine,” she says.

    “But you always have a half of lager,” says David.

    “Never mind,” says Sally. “I’ll drink it.”

    He buys her a glass of wine on the next round. She doesn’t look like she enjoys it much, but she doesn’t say anything.

    “Let’s try something else,” says David as they leave the pub. “Let’s do seaside stuff. The stuff that nobody ever does anywhere else.”

    Sally shrugs again. “OK,” she says.

    So they buy rock and eat hot dogs and donuts. They have a go on the 2p pusher machines and both in turn fail to hook a teddy bear with a robot claw. They have a few drinks at the family fun pub on the pier and watch donkeys totter up and down the beach below. David looks at the donkeys, is about to say something and looks down at his own portly gut. “Perhaps not,” he says and catches Sally in a smile. They write their names in the sand. David considers drawing a heart around them, but doesn’t want to push things too far. They find a hall of mirrors and David sees Sally smile again. They even go into one of the gypsy fortune teller booths. The lady there tells them with a bored, northern voice that vibrates with smoker’s phlegm that they will have a long and happy life.

    “See,” says David. “I told you.”

    “She didn’t say we’d have a long and happy life together, did she?” says Sally. But she seems to be smiling again.

    On the way back to the guesthouse, they pass a pub - it is a modern building, all glass and steel and posters for drinks offers. It certainly wasn’t there on David and Sally’s honeymoon, and David isn’t sure what it has replaced. An empty bomb lot probably. But he hears the familiar strains of Jennifer Rush from inside and grabs Sally by the hand, pulling her through the doors.

    That night, before bed, David is drunk. So is Sally, he thinks. He is tempted to kiss her. Her eyes are shining. Probably the booze, but it reminds him of how she used to be. “See,” he says. “A magic place.”

    Sally smiles. “Yes,” she says. “You’re right.”

    “And we’ve got a whole ‘nother week too,” he says. “Till we have to go home”

    Sally’s smile slowly fades. “Yes,” she says. “One whole week.”