Amanda woke up, teased by the whistle of the teapot. While Ryan had slipped out of bed to prepare their breakfast, she had hid herself beneath the covers, refusing to acknowledge the light that was slipping through the curtains. Why couldn’t they simply stay in bed the whole day? Wasn’t that what a honeymoon was for?
She had been the one to suggest their upcoming trip. They were going to the beautiful island of Java. Simply take the ferry and spend the New Year there. A five-star hotel on the beach. No reporters, no fans. Exactly the kind of thing she needed. Not only because she wanted to spend time with Ryan, preferably in bed. She just wanted to be alone. With Ryan. Away from it all. She hoped that Ryan would be okay with taking things slowly, not doing too many touristy things.
She could have stayed at home, and taken refuge there. Her own bed was maybe even more comfortable. Sleeping in a hotel had always felt strange to her. Probably her editor would have preferred her staying home, hoping she would be able to go through the edits he had sent her. But when Ryan had shown her the pictures, she had to agree that the view of the bay from her own place in Monterey couldn’t be compared with the blue of the ocean here. Something in the air, probably, that made the light reflect differently.
Amazing how much could change in one year. That one autumn night, as she presented her novel at one of the San Jose’s art galleries, she met the man she would marry. If you would have told her that beforehand, she would have laughed in your face. He had simply walked into her life, and she hoped he was not going to go anywhere soon. She chuckled, as she realised her next book might be sappier than her editor might like. Not to mention all her fans, who were anxiously waiting for the next installment of Dr. Hugo Mens, private investigator. Perhaps she would let him come to Indonesia. And he would spend his time between looking at the sea, wondering what the hell he was doing here, and looking for an American tourist that had gone missing. Not sure yet why Hugo would take such a lousy assignment. Maybe she had to invent some rich or powerful people involved, an old classmate perhaps.
Ryan came into the bedroom, arms full. “Look what they brought, honey.” Amanda guessed staying in a good hotel wasn’t that bad after all. She especially enjoyed the Bubur Ayam and finished her cup of Jasmine tea, while she thought about how Hugo would hate not being able to find any decent coffee anywhere.
Ryan took a last bite from his toast and looked at her. “What are you smiling about?”
“Oh, I was just thinking about my next book. How Hugo would have trouble enjoying this kind of breakfast.”
Ryan shook his head.
“Yes Ryan, I know. I agreed, no work. But I cannot help it. It’s just how my brain works!”
Now it was Ryan’s turn to smile. “Honey. It’s fine. Thinking is not prohibited. I’m glad that being here is making you think of these things, I would be worried when all of a sudden you would start to worry about things like make-up or your Steemit rating.”
Amanda got up from bed and walked over to her dressing table. She sat down and looked into the mirror. “You mean you don’t want me to hide behind layers of make-up?”
Ryan chuckled. “Even if I would, I know you wouldn’t even consider diluting your beauty like that.” He kissed her behind her right ear.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Amanda pointed to her left ear, grinning from head to toe. But before he could reach her, she picked up their bag and stood up.
“Let’s get dressed so we can get out of here, before we end up in bed again!”
Two hours later they arrived at the port. Amanda close her eyes to not be blinded by the reflection of the sun on the white boards of their ferry, the Senopati Nusantara. People were already standing in line, trying to keep their crying children under control. Amanda sighed. That was the least romantic she could think of. Would they have to spend the whole day in the vicinity of those little monsters?
“Do we really have to go?”
“Yes. It was your idea. New Years eve on the beach, remember?”
She did remember. But she also remembered how Hugo would not have any problem with making sure he would not have to enter that ferry.
“What if we don’t get on board?” As she voiced her plan, she realised how this was probably going to be the best New Years Eve she had ever had. “What if we don’t go?”
“With everything already arranged? Are you insane?”
“You know I am.”
Ryan looked at her and realised she would not just let it go. “Does this have to do with Hugo?”
She chuckled. “I have decided Hugo is going to be in Indonesia, looking for an American tourist that was supposed to have gotten on a ferry, but never did.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Why not? We’re free to do whatever we want, right? And what better way to research a story, than by being the person Hugo is looking for? I can go all postmodern on this one, the author that needs to be found by the private investigator she has created herself. I will be the rich American tourist that gets lost. We will simply wait to see what happens. So it’s vital that we don’t get on that ship.”
Ryan looked sceptical.
“For research, honey! How long will it take them to figure out we’re not on that ship? What will the local authorities do? Come on, you must agree, it’s genius.”
Ryan wasn’t convinced. “But what about when they start a search party. In real life I mean. When the hotel calls your editor, telling him we never arrived. What when they notify the American Embassy. What about your fans? Think of all the panic--”
“No, silly. Of course we wouldn’t let it get that far. We will stop it before anyone truly gets worried. Maybe we will just give it one day, maybe two. Who cares? Think of everything we can do, without anyone thinking to look for us!”
Ryan nodded. “Okay, just a few days. For research.”
“Absolutely. We just check into a small hotel somewhere off the grid. Have some nice dinner. Explore some neighbourhoods. And we can check the news regularly. I’ll set a special alert to notify me instantly if they mention my name in connection to Indonesia.”
“Okay. But please promise we’re not going to regret this.”
“Scouts honour.” Amanda put up two fingers to make a V-sign and spit through them. Ryan laughed. They walked out of the terminal, into adventure. They spent their day driving along the coast, until they returned to the village when the weather got too bad. Tired but extremely happy, they checked in at a quiet little inn on a small alley in the middle of Pankalaybuun.
When they woke up the next morning, Ryan opened the curtains and looked out over the tattered roofs. A storm had raged out at sea that night. The air was still moist, but smelled much less dusty than before. Amanda got up and walked up to him, hugging him from behind while looking out over the city.
“Shall we get ourselves some breakfast?” She opened her phone to check the time. She let out a gasp. “Over two hundred messages!”
“What?” Ryan turned around.
“There was an accident. The Nusantara is gone.” Amanda walked over to the television and turned it on. She sat down on the bed, watching images from helicopters flying above debris floating in the empty sea, interspersed with crying people, speaking a language she didn’t understand. She didn’t know how she should be feeling.
Ryan sat down next to her and put his arm around her. “Oh my. What are we going to do?”
Amanda closed her eyes. “It seems Hugo saved our lives.” She picked up her phone from where it had fallen to the floor.
“But nobody knows he did.”
She started typing a message to her sister, but couldn’t bring herself to push the send button. What if they didn’t contact anyone? Perhaps only let her editor know? Of course it was horrible what had happened to all those people, but wasn’t this also her dream come true? To be able to write from beyond the grave, without having to give interviews and think of social media ever again. She could continue to write, live anywhere she wanted, enjoy the peace and quiet without people demanding things from her all the time. She stared at her phone. Could she do that? What about her sister?
“I guess we have a choice to make.”
With many thanks to the people at @thewritersblock
for their continued support and comments.