“I want to go on a cruise, Dawes.”
Mae was pacing and I was trying to finish a chapter before noon—getting in my two thousand words a day.
“Just think of those Caribbean nights dancing under the stars,” she enthused.
I stopped typing long enough to frown at her.
“You’re really into those tired clichés, aren’t you? —Suitcases covered with stickers, a wide brimmed straw hat, lounging on a beach, sipping rum daiquiris and watching red sunsets.”
Mae wrinkled her nose. “Nothing as conventional as that, Love, but I would like to get away. What do you have in mind?”
“How about a Pacific cruise—north to Alaska?”
Exasperated now, she actually stamped her foot.
“Really Dawes, don’t we have enough bad weather here? It’s fine for you writing your novels and going God knows where in your head, but I have to live in the real world, and I want a change.”
“A change of scene or a change of life?”
I regretted the words as soon as they slipped out. Maybe I was exasperated too, but ever since Mae faced the prospect of nearing the big Four Oh, it seemed she regretted the children she decided we’d never have.
“Maybe I want both,” she sighed, slumping down on the love seat opposite me.
I knew it was a mistake to write in the front room, but I liked the light and felt cramped in my study—the drawback being my availability to Mae at a time when she was feeling particularly testy.
I closed the laptop and leaned back in the couch staring at her.
She was still quite lovely—wispy blonde hair and huge dark eyes made her look dramatic and served her well selling high-end real estate to upwardly mobile clients. But I was tired of the interminable parties, the idle chitchat and the empty lives of others.
Mae was a career woman though, and a socialite—and the endless soirees were a hunting ground for her to add to her client base.
She turned those huge eyes on me now knowing full well all my vulnerabilities.
“Look Dawes, is there anything wrong with wanting to break out of the ordinary? I’d like to get away for a while—not long, maybe a month. I just feel so bored and purposeless.”
I melted a little. “There’s nothing wrong with that, Love.”
“Oh please, say yes—there’s a big world out there—we can travel.”
“I’m willing to go on the cruise, Mae, but traveling isn’t my thing, and you know it.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “I know you don’t want to risk stepping away from writing and losing the momentum—but face it, Dawes—another novel or two along the lines of The Confessions and you can retire in your mid-forties.”
“And do what, Mae—endlessly travel from place to place just to escape the boredom?”
“Boredom?” she shouted shrilly, “what do you call being trapped in a skinny house on a lonely street? It was your idea to buy this barn. Oh, it was built in the Thirties, Love, and has all the charm of that era…Bull! It suited you because it was quiet and dreary—like you banging away of that laptop.”
I realized it was going to be one of those conversations, and believe me, there would be no winners.
“Look Hon, we’re both stressed—it’s been raining for days. Why don’t you phone Callie and go for lunch downtown? — Window-shop or go for drinks. We’ll talk about the cruise tonight around the fire with a glass of wine. How does that sound?”
“Fine, I guess.” Her face was sullen, but the anger was over. “There are leftovers in the fridge,” she said guiltily, realizing she’d probably be lunching at Coro’s.
“Don’t worry about me,” I reassured her, “when I’m writing I can’t eat anyway.”
She smiled sheepishly, “Darlene had tons of food left from the party, so I kindly took some off her hands.”
“And Dawes—I love you, you know that. I think I’m just going through a rough patch right now.”
I got up and hugged her. “I know, Love. But I’m going through it too—with you. Try not to forget, okay?”
The smile was back that made the sun come out on the stormiest days.