The story that follows is just over a year old but today seems an appropriate day to share it with my friends. It appeared today in the Stanly News and Press, the Albemarle local newspaper, with other similar stories. This one of course is about my beautiful wife and me and was the first step in my trip to this Web page and the writing I am enjoying so very much. I hope you enjoy it, as well.
Another event of note. Those of you that enjoyed my short story The Egg Gathering Incident will be pleased to know that it won first prize in a Short Story contest and will appear this summer in a ebook and print book anthology of short stories. I will let you know where you can get a copy when it becomes available.
AT LAST A CRUISE
At long last, after nearly thirty five years of debate, we were headed toward Charleston to depart on a Caribbean Cruise, headed to Key West followed by two days in the Bahamas. I have to admit I was the reluctant member of this family, having always felt that boats were for fishing and knowing I had no rods long enough to fish off such a high deck as this cruise ship promised to have. As we approached the dock I reflected, thinking back on how we had arrived at this point in our lives.
Several months before, I’d started working part time in anticipation of my impending retirement and had quickly realized that being home four days a week was better than being home two days a week, at least for me. I did, however, realize that everything was not one hundred percent perfect. My wife and I had found, over thirty five years of marriage, that we’d drifted further and further apart, as I believe most couples do. Without expressing it aloud, we both feared that if I retired completely we might find that we’d be unable to enjoy constantly being together. We found ourselves spending every evening in separate rooms, hypnotized by the ever present television while enjoying no intimacy at all. We were simply going through the motions of marriage, waiting for whatever was to happen. I’d finally agreed to go on the cruise in hopes that it would rekindle our feelings and clarify what the next step in our lives was to be.
We walked up the ramp boarding the ship side by side without touching, both anxious to see what this short trip would bring for us. We were soon settled into the stateroom and after that decided to check out the food that cruise ships are so famous for. After a great meal, eaten mostly in silence, we returned to our room and retired for the night.
Our first port of call was Key West where we were scheduled to take an excursion bus on a tour of the area, visiting the local sites. We passed Ernest Hemingway’s home complete with six toed cats, Margaritaville without Jimmy Buffet but with lots of tequila, walked past million dollar homes that were at best shacks, in short we saw the whole of Key West that a tourist sees. Knowing no one on the bus we found it convenient to talk to each other and before long we were conversing more openly than we had in years. That evening we returned to the ship tired but happy, as I recall.
Morning comes beautifully on a cruise ship and this one was no disappointment. We woke up early and went to the deck railing to watch as the ship arrived in Freeport. Again we were scheduled to take a bus ride about the island, visit the typical tourist spots and to shop, of course. As the day progressed I began to realize that this lovely woman walking beside me was not only beautiful but full of insightful comments about our surroundings. She entertained me all day with her observations of the scenery and the unusual people in the crowds we were with.
By the time we returned to the ship I was feeling a bounce in my step that had been missing for too long and beginning to see my lovely bride of so many years ago resurrected in this woman I was with.
That was the evening of the dress up meal scheduled periodically on a cruise ship but we’d decided to forgo this because I had no real dress clothes with me as I’d conveniently forgotten to bring them. To my surprise my bride suggested that we go dressed as we had each evening in very casual clothes and brazen our way into the dining room. You’d have to know her to realize how very out of character this was and I was thrilled that she suggested it and immediately agreed, after all, as she’d said, “What could they do but say no?”
When we arrived at the dining room entrance the maître d listened intently as my wife explained our dilemma and immediately escorted us to a secluded table passing by all the tuxedos and ball gowns, all the while smiling down at her with a mischievous gleam in his eye. I followed proudly.
The next day we arrived at our last port of call, Nassau, and departed early for an island tour followed by several hours of free time for shopping. Hand in hand we walked down the ramp into town and for the entire morning we walked, talked, basically enjoying each other, until after a meal in a local bistro we decided that we’d seen enough of Nassau. As we walked slowly back I turned and asked this woman I’d been with constantly for the last several days the question that was burning in my mind.
“Do you think we could stand this togetherness full time for the rest of our lives?”
She raised her head slowly, looked me in the eyes, nodded, kissed me, and putting her hand in mine led me down the hall to our stateroom.
You know what they always say about cruise ships being romantic. Well, it’s very true. By the way, as soon as I went back to work I gave my boss notice of my impending retirement and am now pursuing a career from home and enjoying the company of the love of my life. I’m writing novels, but that’s another story.