Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)
TITLE: Selective Hearing
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“Be careful, Susan. You know how the Russians will feed you until you are incapable of moving.”
“Just as long as the restaurants are smoke free.”
“You do know that smoking is a national sport in Russia?” Greg chuckled.
Susan ignored his remark and returned to her travel plans. “Next Wednesday I’ll visit the Kremlin, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. I think that will be enough for one day. I’ll call you around 3pm—that’s 6am here.”
“I’m glad I’m not going,” Greg snorted. “I hate galleries and museums.”
“I’ll leave for St. Petersburg at the end of the week to meet up with Viktoriya.” Her voice trailed off for a moment. “Oh, the Hermitage Museum looks good.”
Greg sighed louder than necessary. “Where did you say you met Viktoriya?”
“Art School. She came over on a student visa for her final year of study.” She looked up. “Greg, are you sure this is okay with you?”
“Huh, oh yeah. Sure thing, Susan.” I’ll be fine. The boys and I will leave for the lake after your call on Tuesday.”
He tossed a brochure onto the table, closed his eyes and yawned.
Susan continued with the details, including other days she would call him, and the particulars of her return flight.
Two weeks later:
Susan yawned as if on cue. The late night flight touched down and taxied down the runway. She was eager to see Greg and go home for a shower and a long sleep. It’s strange that he wasn’t home on any of the days I said I would call. I hope his fishing trip went well. “I miss you, Greg,” she whispered. She smiled thinking about how much fun he would have had with the boys. A few weeks with other males will be good for him. He probably couldn’t wait for me to leave. Her smile lingered through her fatigue and stepped from the plane walked hurriedly along the air-bridge. The passengers moved on mass toward the baggage collection, then on to Customs. Turning her cell phone on, Susan checked for messages and missed calls Nothing. The phone beeped and died. That’s all I need.
Two hours later Susan stepped into the cool night air. She stopped by a pillar and took a deep breath. “Where is he?” She checked her watch. After casting her eyes over the people waiting, she sat despondently on the bench closest to the exit. A tingle of panic crept up her spine. I hope he’s okay.
“Are you alright, Miss?”
Susan’s heart missed a beat. She looked up to see a security guard standing beside her. “Yes, thank you. I think my husband must have been held up—or something.”
“Perhaps I should call for a taxi. The last plane arrived hours ago.
Everyone’s left. It’s not safe around here in the middle of the night.”
Again Susan looked at her watch. “A taxi would be good. Thanks.” She forced a nervous smile and listened while the guard spoke into his cell phone.
With mixed emotions, Susan turned the key in the door and let herself in. The lights were on, but there was no sound. “Greg, are you here?”
“Susan!” Greg rushed through the living room door, almost bumping into his wife. “Where have you been?”
“Where have I been? You were supposed to pick me up from the airport over two hours ago.”
“No buts, Greg. Why didn’t you come and get me and why weren’t you here for my calls?”
Susan dropped her bag in the front room. Tears burned her eyes. What she saw in Greg’s eyes was not surprise or guilt, but fear. She forced herself to calm. “What is it, Greg?”
“I forgot when you were going to call, and…and you didn’t give me your arrival date and time. I...I was afraid for you.”
“Greg, I went through the itinerary with you before I left. What happened to the copy I left on the coffee table?”
They stared at each other, and then at the coffee table. There laid the brochures and the copy of the itinerary—where Susan had left it.
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