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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: Destination Sunset
By Betty Castleberry


Hank suggested an anniversary trip. I was surprised, because he’s hardly the romantic type. We’ve been married a long time, too, and even have grandchildren to brag about.

I couldn’t wait to spend some leisurely days with Hank. He was being secretive about where he was taking me.

I had visions of staying in a five star hotel. Hank and I would share our mornings eating chocolate dipped strawberries on our balcony. The city skyline would be breathtaking. We would lounge the day away in fluffy white robes until it was time for our couple’s massage. Our song, “Love Me Tender” would be playing softly while we ate dinner in a gorgeous restaurant.

I was so busy daydreaming, the day snuck up on me. I wasn’t sure what kind of clothing to take, so I threw a variety of things into the suitcase, hoping I would get it right. My best perfume even came out of retirement. We headed for the freeway, which gave me no clue at all as to where we going.

I must have fallen asleep, because it was a couple of hours later when I woke up. Hank was pulling into a gravel drive. He stopped the car in front of a weathered cabin with a sagging porch. “Here we are.” He almost ran to the front door.

I followed, thinking I must still be half asleep. When he unlocked the door, a musty odor assaulted me. The cabin was tiny, and the furnishings were shabby.

Hank beamed. “Isn’t this great? The lake’s practically in our back yard, and there’s a boat waiting for us at the dock. We can go fishing all day if we want.”

I faced Hank. “Fishing? You brought me on a fishing trip for our anniversary?”

“Sure honey. I thought it might remind us of when the kids were little and we didn’t have much money. Remember how we used to rent a little cabin at the lake and fish?”

“Oh yes, I remember very well. I also remember cooking all the meals, fighting mosquitos and getting sunburned. Surely you didn’t think I would like this?”

“Well, actually, I did. I know how sentimental you are.”

I was sentimental all right, but at that moment, I was more angry. I counted to ten. “How long are we staying?”

“Just a couple of days.”

I saw the hopeful look in Hank‘s eyes. It wasn’t my dream trip, but maybe I could tolerate two days at the cabin. I was going to set some rules into place, though. Visions of impaled minnows haunted me. “Don’t make me go fishing.”

“Honey, I’ve already bought some new fishing gear. It’s in the trunk. I really want to go, and I’d like for you to go with me.”

Stubbornness bubbled up from my toes and threatened to ooze from my ears. I was compromising just by agreeing to stay in a run-down cabin. After all, it was my anniversary, too, and I did not want to fish.

I looked Hank in the eye. “I hate to fish. Surely you know that after all these years.”

I have no idea how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the boat with a fishing pole in my hand.

Hank was whistling. “This isn’t so bad, is it?”

I tried to smooth my wind-blown hair. “If you say so.”

After an hour of no luck fishing, I put down my pole. “Let’s leave.”

“Just a little bit longer. Right before the sun goes down is the best time to fish.”

I prayed for patience. I prayed again thirty minutes later. The sun was now beginning to set.

“Hank. I want to leave. Now.”

He put his fishing pole away. Then he reached under his seat and fiddled with something. Strains of “Love Me Tender” filled the boat.

I looked at Hank. “What is going on?”

“I snuck some things in with the fishing gear. I was also stalling, waiting for sunset. I want this to be perfect.” He handed me a rose, then got down on one knee and pulled something out of his pocket. “Norma, would you marry me all over again?”

I wavered between feeling guilty and stunned. This was a side of Hank I rarely saw. Finally, I was able to speak. “Yes. Definitely.”

He put a beautiful diamond anniversary ring on my finger. “We can go now.”

“No, let’s stay. Hand me a fishing pole.”

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This article has been read 1321 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/26/07
Even fishing can have redeeming qualities with "done right." I loved the story and the twist. Good job.
Pat Guy 04/26/07
Boy - you had me going! I could feel my blood boiling! (and that's good) Then when he asked for more time - I had a feeling something was up - boy they sure know how to make ya feel bad don't they?

You carried my emotions all the way through till the end. Kudos on the writing!
Lynda Lee Schab 04/26/07
Very cute! I had a feeling there would be a romantic twist at the end. You didn't disappoint. Good job!
Marilee Alvey04/26/07
What a delightful story! Suspenseful, too. I've had those "surprises" given by husbands before, so my blood turned cold! (My husband once told me he was taking me out to dinner and great grandma was going to babysit the three little children we had, so I dressed up in my best white slacks and fuchia top and was so excited to get to eat a meal that wasn't cold and talk with an adult. The only catch? Turned out it was a surprise birthday weiner roast at grandma's, complete with three kids, and I, dreams dashed, still in white slacks!) Yours turned out a lot better. That's the beauty of being a writer, huh? Okay, so it's an A plus for a well written, fun story with a surprise ending, and an F for reality! (Unless this story is true, in which case, I apologize...and have to go work on not coveting!) Your best line was: "Stubbornness bubbled up from my toes and threatened to ooze from my ears." SUPER LINE AND A MASTERFUL READ!
Mo 04/26/07
I really liked the ending.
Rita Garcia04/30/07
I really love this story, I can remember times that I thought were the absolute worst, turning around and becoming one of my fondest memories. Beautifully written!
Jan Ackerson 04/30/07
Awwwwwwwww. Really fun read; you have one of the best "voices" here. Such a fun, readable style.
Myrna Noyes05/01/07
Your title drew me in, and I liked how it tied in with your story! You gotta love that Hank--maybe a bit rough around the edges at times, but when necessary, he can rise to the romantic occasion! :) Touching ending to a well-written piece!
Cheri Hardaway 05/01/07
I found you! This was such a fun read! I loved this line: Stubbornness bubbled up from my toes and threatened to ooze from my ears. Any married person can relate to this story... Nice work, Cheri
Bryan Coomes05/01/07
The title drew me in and the story was fun. As a man I felt for Hank who, in his "man-ish" way, was trying to be sentimental in taking her to the old cabin...and I was so hoping he had something up his sleeve. Way to go Hank! A great ending to a great story.
Loren T. Lowery05/02/07
Men! Who can understand us?
On the other hand, your wonderful piece shows that deep down, we really do have hearts and sometimes they can be suprisingly warm and creative.
Enjoyed this immensily!
Jacquelyn Horne05/02/07
Cute. Loved it. Good romance.
Joanne Sher 05/02/07
Very sweet - love your voice, as usual - and Hank!
Sara Harricharan 05/02/07
I kinda felt sorry for the wife, even after the whole episode was over. It was sweet of her husband to plan with the rose, music and ring though. Cute.
Julie Arduini05/02/07
This is so smooth and lovely, oh how I can relate to her frustration and happy ending!