A family emerges from their villa to enjoy a hotel breakfast under swaying palms but dad Martin is missing. He booked a sunrise session of stand up paddle boarding at 7 am but is still nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s dad?” asks little Johnny, “I thought he was going to build a sandcastle with me.”
“Sorry love,” says Mum. “He might not have time. he’s got sea kayaking this morning, followed by skydiving this afternoon.”
Dad finally appears, hobbling up the pathway looking a little overheated.
“How was it?” asks mum, Lucy, “and what’s wrong with your foot?”
“Great,” Martin says with a tight smile. “Loved the paddle boarding. Just slipped and stepped on some coral, that’s all.”
“I thought that you were meant to be standing on the board?”
“Yes,” Martin mumbles, grabbing a bread roll, “but turns out that it’s trickier than it looks.”
Martin’s wife, Lucy, has grown used to the fact that her husband likes to make the most of every minute of his holidays. Martin is approaching 50. She puts it down to a mid-life crisis.
Kite surfing yesterday had not been an unqualified success. Martin spent some early sessions mastering how to fly the kite while safely grounded on the beach but yesterday was his first foray into the water. Martin invited the whole family to admire his new found skills only for them to have to witness him face planting into the sea at painfully regular intervals.
Exhausted but apparently undeterred after his three-hour lesson, he emerged from the sea with a swagger, wearing a helmet and unflattering life vest (which somehow hooked up his T-shirt to reveal a generous midriff). Lucy spotted the young and pretty Australian instructor and understood everything, but when Martin finally reached her, Lucy didn’t hold back in telling him that his swimming shorts had slipped and were showing off a fair share of his bum. When Martin returned to the hotel he nearly fell asleep into his soup, then passed out at 9 pm.
“It’s as if Daddy’s not really on holiday with us,” Martin’s daughter whines as Mum nods resignedly.
Skydiving next and Martin’s wife is not happy. Flapping about in shallow water over the reef is one thing, but jumping out of planes could be classed as life threatening. The children attend the skydiving briefing with dad. The skydive team comprises of an oldish Scandinavian guy with a young American sidekick, both faces wizened by the sun and brimming with confidence. Johnny thinks that he sees fear in his dad’s eyes as the harness is being fitted.
“Are you really going to do this, Dad?” he asks.
Martin’s back straightens. “Yeah, sure thing, son,” he says, slapping his son’s back with forced bravado. Mum rolls her eyes then she and the kids wave off Dad as he disappears into the back of a minibus, airport bound.
It’s a long wait on the beach spent gazing at a clear blue sky, watching for tiny specks. There’s high excitement at the sight of a plane then a painfully long pause as nothing much happens. Finally, little Johnny shrieks, “I can see Dad! I can see him!”
A parachute pops open and then another one. Lucy feels a flood of relief, willing her husband safely back down to earth. The parachute grows larger and soon it’s possible to make out Martin strapped to the chest of the Scandinavian instructor. The family wave excitedly as the unlikely couple plummet towards the sand to land in a tumbling heap.
“Martin, are you okay?” Lucy asks. “Was it wonderful?”
Her husband’s sky goggles are askew and he looks decidedly ill. Anders, the instructor, says the flight was 100% fantastic. “Martin here was a superstar.”
Martin smiles weakly and tries to stand but staggers as he tries to find his balance.
“Just a spot of nausea,” he says. “It’s nothing.”
As the sun goes down that evening, Martin has at last regained his usual colour. He and his wife enjoy a cocktail on a terrace overlooking the sea.
“So what’s on the itinerary for tomorrow?” Lucy asks.
“I think that I might just stay here,” says Martin. “Spend some time with the kids.”
Lucy squeezes his hand. “I think that would be a good idea,” she says.