Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Perfect Vacation

My last post was a love story I had written a few years ago at the whim of my muse.  Always fickle, I never know for sure what is going to come out once she has commanded me to write.  In that instance, what I thought was going to be a horror story involving a battle against the dark forces, instead turned into a woman's personal battle with her fears.  In this story, I stared out to write about a perfect vacation.  The scene is set, a woman and her lover...but as usual, my muse, wicked imp that she is, had different ideas.

The Perfect Vacation
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

The breeze was light, softly drifted over my body as I lay on the secluded Hawaiian beach my boyfriend and I had come to for our vacation. The water lapped gently at my toes while the sun caressed my skin, turning it from the pale ivory it had been into a light brown color. I had always tanned easily and despite my light coloring, had very rarely burned. Usually I would forgo the tanning lotion but was glad at Gerard’s insistence that I put some on. The sun was hot and I welcomed the breeze and the water, as it inched up towards my ankles. Before long, the tide would come in. But for the moment I would enjoy the swell of the waves as they rose and fell against my skin.

Overhead, a seagull cried and I watched as several birds flew out of a tree, gliding into the air along with the breeze. A few clouds floated across the sky, but they were white, harmless clouds, gliding across a blue sky. Somewhere, not too far away, I heard the laugh of children, probably running along the beach or swimming in the ocean water; perhaps even building a sand castle. A sand castle was on my list of things I wanted to do with Gerard on our vacation, a nice big one, with lots of turrets and a moat to catch the tide when it came in. He laughed when I told him that, the crinkles that showed around his eyes hiding some of the worry he’d been carrying for the last few weeks.

It hadn’t been easy on him, trying to find an excuse to tell his wife, for why he was leaving for a few weeks. A convention for his company would be too easy for her to check into. But he had worked it out, which was a good thing. I needed this time alone with him. I had told him that and had suggested that his wife might find out about me if we didn’t get some real time together. A few weeks later he showed me the airline tickets and told me the reservations were made. All I needed was to get the time off of work and since he was the boss that was not a problem. I told co workers I was going to visit my family in Ohio.

The plane trip was exciting. It was my first time on a plane. Gerard had allowed me the window seat while he input figures on his laptop. Even on vacation, he had a hard time leaving work behind. I had been thrilled by the view, although a little nervous. I could feel the vibration from the plane’s engine and when we briefly experienced turbulence, I almost had a panic attack. But then the ride smoothed out and I enjoyed the rest of the flight. Well, except for the stewardess that tried flirting with Gerard. Couldn’t she see that he was taken?

The flight landed and we headed straight for the hotel. It was a small one, but they didn’t require a credit card, so he wouldn’t have to explain the bill to his wife. I wondered how he was going to explain the plane tickets. The room was painted in tropical colors and on one wall there was a painting of a beach scene, a pair of lovers intertwined with each other as a sun set in the background. It took my breath away. This was my dream vacation! This was what I wanted for Gerard and myself. We unpacked, spent a little time getting to know each other again...his wife had been especially demanding lately and he hadn’t had much time to get away to visit me. We left the bed unmade as we left to tour the Island.

Gerard told me he’d had a friend come to the Island once and he’d told him about a wonderfully private beach that most tourists couldn’t find. His friend had stumbled across it and told Gerard how to find it. We stopped off at a local restaurant and purchasing a picnic lunch we were on our way. We walked, enjoying the scenery and stopping along the way to look in a few local craft shops. In one, he tried on several hats, making a show out of it. I was in stitches, laughing as he tried on a hat with a propeller and ran around the shop, his arms held out as though he were flying. Even the shop keeper laughed and asked us if we’d been married long. I fell silent, but Gerard didn’t miss a beat as he answered that we weren’t married yet, but with any luck we would be. When she asked our names he answered Faye and Bill. The shopkeeper didn’t know the inside joke, so she was puzzled as to why that made me burst into a fit of giggles again.

I thought about that as I lay here on the beach, the tide now lapping around my knees. The sun was becoming unbearably hot and I wished I had thought to lie under a tree. I could hear the kids still laughing in the distance and thought to call out to them, but the beach was secluded and I knew I was far enough away they would never hear my voice. I was too tired to call out anyway. I turned my head and looked towards Gerard, who sat a little ways away beneath a tree. Was it a palm? I thought so, but was beginning to feel a little confused. I wanted to ask him, but he was reading a book, oblivious to my discomfort. I was sure the heat was beginning to get to me…that and the loss of blood. My fingers worked their way over the wound in my side. When Gerard had first slid the knife into my side I had thought it was an accident, but then he’d pushed it deeper, twisting the knife as he did. The pain was excruciating at first, and as he rolled off the top of me, pulling the knife with him, I gasped for breath, questioning him with my eyes.

“You couldn’t take the hint.” He said. “It’s over. I’ve found someone else. It wasn’t my wife keeping me from you; it was Helen, the new receptionist. And things would have been fine if you would have just realized it was over.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He sat back for a moment, looking amused as I labored to breathe, then he continued.

“And then you had to threaten to tell my wife. So what did you think I was going to do? Let you break up my marriage? What about my kids? You want to tear their parents apart? Not to mention that trust fund her family set up for her. Do you realize I don’t get a dime of that if she divorces me?”

I had known about the trust fund. That’s why I had pushed so hard, threatening to tell her. I knew that was the only reason he stayed with her and I would get what I wanted if he thought he might lose it all. I had never thought of what he might do to me. Now as I lay there, slowly bleeding to death, I realized how short sighted that had been. Even more, as I watched him reading his book, The Count of Monte Cristo of all things, I realized the implications for Bill, poor Bill, who had publicly made it known his feelings for me. Bill, who was Gerard’s twin brother and who Gerard told me, was in Hawaii at this moment, getting over my rejection of him.

Gerard had given him the vacation as an early birthday present. Then quietly had started rumors that despite my public rejection of my boss’s brother, I was quietly seeing him behind the scenes and my ‘trip’ to visit my family was just a ruse so that Bill and I could quietly get away together. Too bad about Bill’s anger issues, which everyone knew about after his high profile split with his wife.

Gerard closed his book and slowly stood and stretched his limbs out. I watched as he sauntered towards the water’s edge, looking down at me. The tide was around my middle now, gently tugging at me, the drag pulling me in a bit. It didn’t hurt, I think because of shock and I sighed as I felt the current pull again. My vision was growing hazy and I knew I was close to death. I closed my eyes as I felt the tide pool around my head, water creeping into my ears, muffling the sounds of the children playing. I could no longer hear the birds calling to each other, the sound of the ocean rushing around me. The salt water assaulted my nose as I struggled for breath, entering and forcing its way into my throat, burning as I struggled for the much needed oxygen. The last thing I saw, just before the tide pulled me under was Gerard, picking up our picnic basket and walking away.

copyright 2011 by Lisa McCourt Hollar
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