by Miranda Innaimo
It would seem by the contents of her luggage, the trip had been a success: there were trinkets obtained at memorial sites, receipts from extravagant restaurants, museum pamphlets, and a signed copy of a music album. Yet these things were tossed aside, and sorted garments of clothing brought swelling emotions to the woman’s heart.
A pale blue cardigan with a sleeve spotted by champagne: the woman could still recall the handsome man handing her the tall, slender flute, his eyes sparkling joy beyond the bubbly. They had sat near each other while upon the flight oversees, his elbow gently brushing against her own, her breath fluttering not only from the altitude. After sharing a bottle, it soon became obvious the woman would not use the services of a tour guide; the gentleman upon flight 403- with a relaxing personality, carefree poise, and with well-founded understanding of their destination- he suited her standards for exploration far better than whomever the travel agency had chosen as her guide.
A silk handkerchief, embroidered with his initials: attending an opera in a language neither could understand, quietly whispering their interpretations of the saga; the woman occasionally silently laughing to tears while the pageantry’s storyline unfurled in hushed giggles. He put his arm around her, the handkerchief slipped into her purse. Now, fingers tracing the embroidered letters upon the silk, and she bit her lip with the desire to be held like that again.
An evening gown, the shoulder strap broken at dawn after an evening of dancing: they had commemorated their final night overseas by swinging together upon a rooftop dance floor, the city lights shining upon them as they moved together. They were radiant, and the entire crowd melds together as a fading glow compared to their shimmering happiness. Held close, the woman felt his breath upon her hair while hearing him whisper sincerely, “I’ve never felt like this before.”
That morning at breakfast, the woman looked languidly across the kitchen table. “More coffee?” she asked. Her husband slid his mug towards her and continued scanning his business files.
After another moment of silence, she asked, “Would you like to go kayaking this weekend? We could go downstream, camp on the shore and see the stars come out.”
He lifted his chin from the manila folder, “We don’t own a kayak.”
“How about we attend a lesson Thursday evening? I’ve always wanted to learn swing dancing. There is a big band performing.”
Between sips of coffee, he casually reminded, “You know trumpets give me a headache.”
She continued, trying, “we could see the Hungarian movie playing at the theater tonight?” After he had consumed several bites of toast while putting a note in the margin of his paperwork, she nudged again, “the Hungarian movie, darling?”
He looked up, snapping close the file. “I’m working on a special account this evening, so I will be home later than I would like.” Her husband rose and left the table.
Bidding him farewell at the door, the woman placed the silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. “Thank you again for our lovely vacation,” she said, her fingers trailing the embroidery initials on the cloth.
“Hmm?” her husband gazed into the foyer mirror, adjusting his tie and straightening his collar. “Oh, yes, you’re welcome.” He smiled, “I’ve got to go.” With a hurried kiss, he was out the door for the remainder of the day.
The woman shuffled her feet into the laundry room: the clothes from their trip clean and dry without as much as a spot upon them; no lingering stain of adventure embracing the cotton, no scent of the exotic airs they gasped together in romance. It seemed that all residue of their experience was washed away, yet, she knew, the adoration unpacked would reside forever.
Flicking the light off, she carried the laundry away and went about her daily routine.