It was meant to be the highlight of their trip. Not their last port of call; no, three more cities remained on their itinerary after Venice. Yet, this was the one they dreamed about the most during the two years planning that had gone into the trip. It was Mattie who had first come up with the idea. This would be a fitting way of celebrating his retirement and catching up on all they'd missed out on during his thirty years at the helm. It took a while for the idea to catch on, but soon it became like their guiding lighthouse, beckoning them onwards, leading them to their dreams. Six months, 14 cities and no one to disturb their reveries.

Jorg ordered another double. This was not the time for thinking clearly. The waitress gave him a smile as she brought the drink. If only he was twenty years younger, he might have tried it on with her. But those days were long gone. A gondola passed underneath the rialto bridge, the young couple inside locked in a fervent embrace. That was how it was meant to be for Mattie and himself. Just like their honeymoon all those years ago. Instead, their dream holiday had turned into one long round of arguments, recriminations and finally solitude.

Everything had begun just 30 mintues after leaving shore when Jorg discovered that exchanging the office for a different kind of helm was a lot more difficult than he had thought. Mattie had laughed at his difficulties... at first. Then her laugh turned to cynicism.

'Who would have thought, darling, that after so many takeovers you engineered in your career, you would begin your retirement stranded at the starting line.'

It took him three whole days to get used to manoeuvring their craft properly, despite those lessons at the yacht club before leaving. By that time their course had been set and the bitching had become reciprocal. It seemed scarcely a day had passed by without one or other of them laying in to the other. Lately, it had become even more frequent, building inexorably up to the clash at the breakfast table that morning.

'I'm so looking forward to the ball this evening darling. We haven't been dancing since your office party last Christmas.'

'And that, I suppose is my fault. You don't seem to realise that retirement doesn't happen overnight. It has to be prepared meticulously. I can't spend every day spinning around the floor in the company of a lot of idiots who...' Jorg saw her reaction, and a warm feeling engulfed him. 'Anyway, if you're so looking forward to the ball, why don't you go and buy yourself a new dress. Then, at least, I'd have a wife worthy of someone of my standing. I may be retired but I still have my image to keep up.'

Mattie didn't say a word in reply. She just stared blankly for several minutes before beginning to tremble. She stood up and looked at him. Her mouth opened but nothing came out. Slowly and calmly she returned to the bedroom. Jorg followed her in not sure whether to continue his mocking or try and make it up with her. He was just in time to see her put her passport in her handbag and walk out. The lighthouse was calling her back home.


Nicely done.

This shows, clearly, the power of words and how words, when used in an attacking way, can cause deep wounds. Jorg's comments to his wife went too far, as did his wife's comments at the beginning of the trip. Right from the start I assumed that the years of simmering anger over Jorg's long hours just made it boil over for his wife, which helped the whole thing spiral out of control.

Nice work.

3 April 2009 at 13:27  

All of this beauty in five minutes? I am impressed, and the emotion of it really resonates, especially in the dialouge.

3 April 2009 at 22:31  

Loved the dialogue and how you portrayed the escalating sense of hostility between the two a well as how you sketched in the character of Jorg. For such a short piece I got an excellent view of the character.

3 April 2009 at 23:25  

Very nicely done. You capture a lot of what was my head for my tale, that never got written in, so it's really nice to see how one can paint a background or scene was just so many words. Me, it would take me pages, I tend to be too verbose :p

3 April 2009 at 23:47  

Short and bitter sweet.

I agree with Rob that both attacking comments were way out of line and I can't think of a worse place to be than a yacht with all this spinning out of control.

Beautifully written as always!

My late entry (I see a pattern emerging here) is Light Years

I found your email during the week and replied - but it seems my emails have been hitting everyone's spam folders recently. Did you get my follow up email? Are you still interested?

4 April 2009 at 15:40  

You portrayed disillusion and irony very well, in the way it eroded the relationship. Good job.

My own entry is at

6 April 2009 at 14:00  

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