A Couple on a Cruise


nosy – sponsor – passenger – willing – smile
brew – yellow – neighbour – hundred – stairwell

A knock at the door to the suite. I turn, looking over the queen-sized bed and joining living space that separate me from the door; a nice room, really, for what it cost me. Before I can say so, Daryl lets himself back into the room. “Got the ice,” he says, holding up the small black tub as evidence, still wearing that ugly white and yellow polo shirt, despite my comments. I say nothing, and turn back to the view of the ocean from my balcony on the Carousel Emerald Duchess — it’s day one, six hours on board, and we’ll return to Ft. Lauderdale after eleven at sea. Daryl comes up beside me and offers me a club soda he’s just poured, on ice. We clink glasses. “Neighbour,” he chooses to say in cheers. Roommate, I correct him in my head— nosy roommate. Only I could fuck up so miserably that I’d find myself a passenger on an all-inclusive cruise, not with my wife to join me, but instead my sponsor. 

Reading my thoughts through the look on my face, he then says, “Look, Freddy, I know it’s not what was supposed to happen. I know I’d be at the bottom of a list of hundred people you’d rather choose to bring with you, but after what happened, you made the right choice. The fact that you were willing to go on this trip, bring me along, shows you’re going to be okay. You’ll heal from this.” He pats me on the back, urging me to look at him. I force a smile. “Besides,” he continues, “we are still two friends going to Barbados together. There could be worse things.”

I grip my glass so hard that my hand cramps. 

“Worse things,” I say, taking a large inhale, “Worse than having one brew with your boss to celebrate your promotion, breaking six years of sobriety. Worse than that one drink turning into two, then into twenty. Worse than stumbling home and falling down the stairwell to break both your arm and your wife’s painting that was three years in the making. Worse than pissing yourself and screaming that same wife out when she tries to help clean you up — becoming the delayed last straw that ends your fragile marriage. Worse than the cruise that would mark your anniversary, a cruise that might mend that fragile marriage, being non-refundable, so when forced to go, you bring your sponsor along to hear you weep from the pull out for twelve nights straight. Worse things, Daryl.”

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Benny Greeno

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