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by Korrene Powers
My wife and I have been slowly drifting apart since, well, since our wedding day. I really don’t think we’ll ever split up, but a marriage like this sure does make life unpleasant. We sort of decided together that a vacation cruise would be a good idea. By “sort of”, I mean that she thought it would be a good idea. I gave in easily, though, because I thought it might bring us closer. I had also been working hard lately with extra shifts and extra jobs to pay off her credit card bills, so I could really use the vacation.
I booked the trip two months early, so there was plenty of time to pack and plan, and plan I did. I spent the next two months focused on the upcoming trip. Every morning when I woke up, I would check the weather in Belize, one of our ports of call. Almost every day, in the eighties and sunny. Then I’d look outside, where it was forty degrees and raining.
About every three days I delved into the list of shore trips on the cruise line’s website. I was having a hard time choosing. Should I go cave diving or four-wheeling? Three weeks before departure, or d-day, as I called it, I finalized my choices. In Cozumel I would go jungle mountain biking, and in Belize I would go tubing through an underground river.
As amped as I was about the activities, my wife was just as eager to tackle the shopping sites and eat at the formal dinner parties. I bought new shoes for the biking. She bought a new black dress for the captain’s dinner. I bought new trunks for the river. She bought a new handbag
I was so stoked seeing her happy about the trip. Bear in mind that we didn’t talk much and the sex was still non-existent, but she was smiling a lot. Smiling was good. It meant less fussing about dinner being cold or the house not being clean. But I wasn’t just glad because she lightened up on me. I genuinely enjoyed seeing her happy, even if it wasn’t because of me.
A week before d-day I dropped by the travel agent’s office and paid off the balance, including extra for the shore trips. It was just under five thousand dollars for everything, not a bad deal in my opinion. We even had a balcony room. If there was the possibility for a little romance and a renewed friendship with my wife, I would have given up all my money.
I took the day off prior to d-day so I could pack our bags. Most of the day was spent ironing her clothes for the trip and picking up last minute items from the store. Only twelve hours to go.
About seven that evening, she yelled at me from the couch. I put down the iron and walked into the living room.
“I need you to drive me to the hospital. My back hurts.”
“What’s wrong? Did you fall or something?”
“No. It’s just sore.”
And so it began. Fifteen minutes to the ER. Forty-five minutes in the waiting room. Thirty-five minutes in the ER room. Fifteen minutes filling out insurance papers. Then fifteen minutes back home.
On the way home, without even looking at me, she said, “My back still hurts. I don’t think I want to go on the cruise.”
I turned to look at her with my mouth open to speak. When I did, she looked at me with a face that spoke volumes. I heard her words as clearly as if she’d said them.
The cruise is off.
You are not going without me.
Don’t say a word.
Just drive me home.
I drove on home and unpacked the bags.
The next morning, the one I called d-day, I woke at my usual six a.m. outside it was thirty-eight degrees and drizzling. I dressed and drove on into work. I signed up for two overtime shifts to help pay off a five thousand dollar credit card bill.
In Belize it was eighty-three degrees and sunny.