Sally and Barry were in love and living together when Barry found out that his previous girlfriend was very sick with cancer. He told Sally that he loved her, but she didn't need him - and went back to the other girl. Sally left university without getting her degree and quite soon left England, going to live in Portugal for several months with a new boyfriend. They broke up when she returned to England - but before she came to Spain, there was another lover in the picture
As far as I knew, when we started living together in Spain, her lover was a guy called Peter and he was due to visit us. One day she got a letter. I vaguely registered that it had perturbed her. The she began to get calls. Barry had blown back into her life. The other woman's crisis was over. She was in remission. They'd talked. They'd agreed to simply be friends. He now felt free to ask Sally to have him back. He had always loved her. Sally glowed cautiously.
Then Peter arrived. He was a young, lythe man with blonde, curly hair. He meditated. He told stories about the time he'd spent teaching English in Syria. He was delicately political about the implications of the women being veiled, but also honest and in touch with the eroticism he had felt when those women flirted with him, when they managed to arrange sexual assignations with him.
After a few hours Sally explained to Peter that she and Barry were back in communication. She was rigourous with her emotions, not letting them rule her head. But nevertheless she had to acknowledge that she had always loved Barry, even respected his reasons for going back to his old girlfriend. I think those in between men were measured against Barry, who was very energetic and forceful and becoming very successful in business, and who was large hearted, ready to take care of himself and others. In short she told Peter, that to be fair to him, she had to break up with him.
He took it badly - his shoulders hunched up and he looked suddenly like a thin and asthmatic six year old. He screamed and punched the mattress in the spare room to get his feelings out. I could see his outburst shocked Sally and belittled him in her eyes. I could see she thought it was excessive, self-indulgent and lacking in pride. I believe this display confirmed her feeling that she had made the right decision.
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