Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
TITLE: Destination Sunset
By Betty Castleberry
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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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