Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flash Fiction VI—Cruise

They had wanted to go to somewhere, had needed to get away because the winter had been rugged, and while no one would say they were in trouble, a change would do them good. When Steven suggested one of those Cruises-to-Nowhere, Benni balked. “Did you just flinch?”


“You did. It’s three days; completely manageable. My sister will watch the cat.”

She packed bathing suits though that much warmth was unimaginable. How far could one get in three days? No shopping for this; she wouldn’t ever see these people again, after all. One bag for each of them because he folds and she rolls and sharing just doesn’t work out.

The stateroom had a porch (is that right?) where they had breakfast that first day, fleeced, with socks and scarves, watching the steel sea churn by. Steven wore his watch cap. “There are indoor pools.”

They went to the gym. The sweat, a turnoff at home, was an inspiration (though maybe it was just the sea air or the envelope of complete anonymity they’d folded themselves into). A fruity cocktail for her, beer for him. “Incredible food.” Another round, then another, then a nap. Because they were on vacation, right?

When they woke up the sun was shining, the water the green of a sour apple jelly bean.

It was her idea to have sex on the porch (that can’t be right); they were on the eastern side of the ship and she suddenly craved that warmth on her skin. “I love this.”

How do you get a body off a ship? The crew handles the details; the ship doctor arriving, stewards wrapping a blanket around you because your teeth will not stop chattering and there’s a wax museum Steve and there’s the proof that death is a kind of release and then Steve is gone and the captain escorts you to a different stateroom (interior, no porch) and since it is a Cruise-to-Nowhere all you can do is lie on this king-size bed and wait for the ship to return to port where what had been Steve is rolled down the cargo gangway on a gurney just before the recycling.


Amy C. Kaplan said...

Holy you-know-what. My favorite sentence: "...the envelope of complete anonymity they’d folded themselves into" until I started reading the middle of the last paragraph. It still is, just overshadowed. Whoa.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Thanks, Amy!

Donna said...

This one is good. Really good. I like "wax museum Steve" -- one of those really, really, really good
'show don't tell' descriptions.

RAB said...

Oh! Waiting alone on the king-size bed.... devastating ending....

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Donna, thanks for that!

RAB, thank you!