by Lin Morris
I should have broken up with Anthony while I had the chance. I was all set to, but then he scored a private weekend cruise in a raffle…
“Just you and me, Gil,” he said, knowing I dislike my name reduced to its diminutive – though even that’s better than when he sprinkles me with silly terms of endearment. Seriously: my name is Gilbert, not Gil, or Darling, or Babe.
Given the choice of listening to Anthony beg for another chance or a nice weekend out on the ocean, you’d pick the latter, too, believe me. Even if it meant spending 48 hours with a slice of stale white bread like Anthony. And in tight quarters: he couldn’t win a cruise on a full-sized ship, or even a yacht, no, just a small cruiser.
Still, it was free. Why be petty?
So, I decided to break up with him next week instead – though whether to do it before or after our seven-monthiversary, I wasn’t sure yet. Whatever his other faults, Anthony gives great presents, so there’s that to consider.
Moot point now, of course, since the boat’s on fire, and the captain and two-person crew have absconded with the only lifeboat.
Ugh, why does this stuff always happen to me?
Five minutes ago, when the shrieking alarm woke us from our sound sleep (fortified with last night’s wine), it was clear that today this wasn’t going to be a good day.
I just wanted a nice weekend without a bunch of drama. I’ll get enough of that when I bid poor Anthony adieu a week-ish hence.
Is that too much to ask?
So, the weekend’s a wreck: no more tanning, no more luxe meals, no more free booze. On the plus side, no more listening to Anthony blabber on.
First issue, though: how to avoid a fiery water-death. (Or is that, a watery fire-death?)
We’re astern, the flames spreading rapidly. I’m pretty sure the captain said the lifejackets are stored in the bow, which now resembles nothing so much as Satan’s playground.
I stamp my foot snittishly, wondering where our rescuers are, when the solution to my dilemma (okay, fine: our dilemma) presents itself. There, attached to the stern is my lovely orange savior, a lifebuoy!
Only one – curse poor Anthony’s luck!
I’m mere steps from it when –
“Darling!” Arms encircle me from behind.
Drat! Do I have to literally go to my death listening to Anthony call me icky lovey names?
“Gilbert,” I mutter, pulling my arms free.
“Nothing.” I pretend-scan the horizon and inch slowly closer to my circular hero. Anthony whirls me in another hug, so that we’ve switched places. He’s now in closer proximity to my flotation device, so I guess he’s not so dumb as he looks.
I turn Anthony face forward and kiss him passionately as a distraction, my arms flailing around blindly behind him in search of my life preserver.
He spins me yet again, trying to gain advantage, so I simply keep turning until eventually we’re waltzing across the bloody deck, reaching, straining each time we step-slide-step past the lifebuoy; our smiles are stretched taut, and we laugh nonchalantly as though nothing is amiss.
Finally, executing a graceful pivot-step-slide, I snag it.
Unfortunately, so does Anthony. We keep whirling, clutching the life preserver, a waltz-a-trois among the flames.
There’s a blistering whoosh as the gas tank explodes. The air is clotted with the odor of burning fuel and singed hair. Even rocketing skyward, we refuse to let go.
As the ocean rushes to meet our plummeting bodies, I look into Anthony’s eyes.
It’s perhaps our last moment on earth.
I say what’s in my heart.
“I want to break up.”