Summer fiction: Nostalgie, a new short story by Wendy Erskine

The email came from someone in Northern Ireland. Was he available to sing at parties?

Photograph: E+/Getty

Photograph: E+/Getty

The night before, Drew has a smoke on the promenade deck of the Liverpool-Belfast boat. The sky, barred pink and yellow, is almost psychedelic and he thinks about getting his phone out to photograph it for Jan, before deciding not to bother. He hadn’t asked her to come, even though she’d pointed out how little she’d seen of Ireland. This particular trip, he said, didn’t warrant the effort. When she asked what type of concert it was, he replied, although it wasn’t entirely true, that all he knew was where and when he needed to turn up.

Drew drops his final cigarette into the night sea and heads back to the cabin, a family type, with two sets of bunks. He looks at its wood laminate as he drinks the bottle of whiskey he’s brought. All those holidays the four of them had taken over the years: the beds in hotels, villas and cottages that had been theirs for a week or so. A surprise that their almost adult kids came on that last one to Cyprus. The promise of winter sun. One night, in the hotel bar, a waiter passed plastic sheets round the tables, lists of songs for karaoke. When he brought the next tray of drinks, Drew handed the sheets back to him.

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