Miranda’s tropical fruit friends are turning out to be very rude indeed. Colonel Coconut keeps insisting on squashing Edward the Kiwi, and she’s fairly certain the banana, whose googly eyes were too shifty to earn him a proper name, isn’t paying any attention to her stories at all. And don’t even get her started on the pineapple.
Honestly, she thought Hawaii would offer a better quality of fruit than this. She could be at home in Surrey, chatting with well-mannered fruit for free; instead, she’s paying to sit in a hotel room in America with these tropical miscreants.
Miranda sneezes pitifully and stares out her window at the disgustingly happy people frolicking on the beach in their bathing suits and licking their mile-high ice cream cones covered in sprinkles. Miranda loves sprinkles.
The worst part is knowing Gary is out there frolicking as well--- frolicking shirtless, mind you ---shaking his wet hair alluringly while his bronze chest glistens with water like a swimwear model and Miranda is missing it all because she’s stuck inside, dying of consumption or possibly the plague---she hasn’t decided which yet--- and no one cares at all.
Stevie says it’s Miranda’s own fault for spending so much time playing with the hot air dispenser in the airport bathroom because they’re a hotbed for germs, everyone knows that, Miranda, everyone. Miranda may or may not have coughed on Stevie at that point. If she did, it was most certainly entirely unintentional (it wasn’t) and she resents the implication she would ever do such a heinous thing (eh, she’s really not all that bothered, to be honest).
It figures that her first proper, grown up vacation outside of Surrey in…ever, is turning out so miserably. She didn’t want to go to Hawaii in the first place. She’s seen that program with the handsome police men (and women, although they probably would prefer an adjective other than handsome; Miranda knows she usually does). Clearly the place is riddled with crime and skinny, attractive people wearing minuscule bathing suits. Who wants that? Being mugged is bad enough on its own. Being mugged by a fit man in swim trunks is just embarrassing.
And the flight! Eighteen hours. Literally, eighteen hours. That’s nearly an entire day of one’s life spent trapped in a tiny seat made for hobbits like Stevie and Elijah Wood, being forced to make small talk with elderly businessmen with bad hearing and wandering hands while being kicked in the back by a tiny person with no soul (who knew it was still legal to bring children on flights?)--- it was a horrid experience made bearable only by the fact Gary convinced the handsiest businessman to swap seats with him while they were flying over one of the flat states and half-way through the in-flight movie, Gary ended up falling asleep with his head on her shoulder and it was heavenly. Even with the drool.
“I’m bored,” Miranda whines to the empty room, twice as expensive as the hotel in Surrey and it doesn’t even have a proper trouser press. Miranda sneezes again and reaches for the box of tissues on the nightstand. Empty. With a groan, she raises her head to stare longingly toward the bathroom.
“Too far,” she mutters. “It’s literally miles away.”
She really only has one choice.
“Thank you, Gary, really,” she says as pitifully as she can manage. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
Gary looks from Miranda to the roll of toilet paper in his hand and arches his eyebrow skeptically.
“I think you would have walked three steps to the bathroom,” he says teasingly.
Miranda ignores him in favor of clutching at his shirttail. To his credit, Gary doesn’t recoil in horror from her germ covered hands.
“Gary, I think I’m dying---”
“You’re not dying---”
“And when I go, I want you to have the shop. I was going to leave it to Stevie, but she’s been very flippant about my illness and I don’t believe in rewarding people for rudeness. She can have Mum, instead.”
Gary stifles a laugh as he gently forces Miranda to release her death grip on his shirt.
“Miranda, I don’t think you can leave people to other people. Maybe children? But not adults.”
Miranda’s eyes narrow and she flounces back on the bed dramatically.
“Just for that, I’m leaving you Clive.”
She rolls over and buries her face in a pillow. For once she’s too miserable to be embarrassed by the massive breast clap that accompanies her sudden movement. She doesn’t even particularly like beaches. What sane person does? But she’s in Hawaii with her mates and if she’s going to be miserable, she’d at least like to be miserable outside, with them.
“Go on, Gary. Go back to your ice cream towers and sand castles. Go back to your fair maidens…”
“You do realize we’re at the beach not a renaissance fair?”
“I’m delirious with fever, Gary.”
There’s a beat and then Miranda feels the bed sink slightly. She opens one eye to find Gary lying beside her, a small smile on his lips.
“I think you need some company,” he says, and then winces and sits up to find a squashed, fuzzy green mass of gook beneath him. Miranda pales.
“Marco!” Gary shouts.
Miranda tries to move quietly around the desk chair holding up one corner of the massive blanket fort she and Gary had erected in the room. The trouble is, it’s very hard for a six foot woman to maneuver around successfully whilst crouched down under a blanket fort that’s only three feet high. Especially, when that woman is suffering from hereditary clumsiness and cough syrup-induced clumsiness.
“Polo!” she shouts back, just as her foot gets tangled in the desk chair, pulling down one corner of the fort on top of herself, rendering her blind.
“Polo! Polo!” she calls frantically until Gary feels his way over to her.
“Are you alright?” Gary asks, his voice muffled from his snorkeling mask. (For the record, indoor snorkeling can lead to drowning. Miranda would rather you not ask how she knows this. No, her hair isn’t wet, it’s just moist from all the crawling about, and didn’t your mother ever teach you it’s not polite to stare?)
In the darkness, Miranda stares down to where Gary’s hand is resting. On her hip. His hand is on her hip. Mustn’t faint. She sits up slightly, reviving their poor demolished fort in the process as if she’s some kind of human pole. Gary’s hand is still lingering and he’s laughing now---full on, crinkled-eye laughing.
“We must look insane,” he whispers conspiratorially.
Miranda’s not sure why he’s whispering, but it’s very intimate. Especially with the darkness and the blanket and the lingering hand. It’s like she’s stumbled into the middle portion of one of those romantic comedies that she never watches where the heroine is about to make out with Hugh Grant. Of course, if this was one of those films, the phone would ring or there would be a knock on the door or…
She sneezes. Messily, and Gary scoots away quickly, taking his hand with him.
“Sorry,” she says. “It was a sneak sneeze. You know the kind that pounces without warning like a tiger… do tigers pounce without warning? Or is that just Tiggers?”
Gary moves a little bit closer again to press his cool hand to her head.
“Let’s get you into bed,” he says gently, pushing through the remnants of their blanket fort, before leaning down to help Miranda to her feet.
Miranda watches approvingly as Gary flails around on the bed. She’s far too sickly to do her own cold bed dance today, so Gary does a solo. He sits up; his hair tousled, and gestures to the bed with all of the enthusiasm of a game show host.
“All warm,” he says, and Miranda collapses onto the bed. All that fort chasing has left her knackered.
“Thank you, Gary,” she mumbles sleepily.
Gary leans down and lightly presses a kiss to her sweaty, potentially consumptive forehead and Miranda’s heart suddenly decides to attempt to break free from her chest.
“You’re very welcome, Miranda,” he replies, before slipping quietly out the door.
The next morning, Miranda is not dead.
In fact, she’s feeling quite well. It seems the combination of sleep and massive amounts of cough syrup has magical healing properties. Giddily, she imagines the ice cream cones and the sandcastles that she’s not at all sure she can actually build, and Gary in his trunks, sans Hawaiian shirt this time…
Her phone rings.
“Miranda?” croaks a pitiful sounding voice on the other end.
“Gary? Is that you?”
“I’m sick,” he says and promptly begins coughing loudly into the mouth piece. Miranda grimaces and holds the phone away from her ear. She stares out the window at the jolly beachgoers as she waits for Gary to regain his ability to breathe. She can see Stevie flirting with a bronze Adonis at this very moment. Shameful.
“Can you bring me some tissues?” Gary asks.
Miranda hesitates. They’ll be leaving tomorrow. This is the last chance she’ll have to see Hawaii, ever, because let’s face it she’s not going through this ordeal just to sit in a room without a trouser press and watch American pay cable again. True Blood isn’t that good.
Then she thinks about the blanket fort. And the lingering hand and the forehead kissing. The only thing she’s ever gotten from the beach is a sunburn and sand in unmentionable places.
“Don’t worry, Gary, I’ll be right over,” she says.
But perhaps she will nip out for an ice cream first. She’ll get one for Gary too, to lift his spirits. With extra sprinkles.