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by Ian Curtress

We had always promised ourselves a cruise but the house, the mortgage then our children, so it had been put on the back burner.
Now the children had flown the nest and were doing quite well, we considered whether to take the plunge and put to sea!
We poured over brochures, ships, routes, dates and “offers”
In fact we obtained considerable pleasure just doing the planning, after all, it is the anticipation which gives equal pleasure to most occasions.
Finally we settled on the Caribbean. Wanted blue skies, blue sea and sunshine.
All went smoothly and we were soon upping anchor.
It was like a second honeymoon and by the second day were “old hands” at this cruise business.
Found our way around the ship, devoured the view from the sharp end, even found ourselves saying “aft”
Food was excellent, the thrill of not cooking and washing up was a plus.
We shared a table with a very nice couple, slightly younger but seemed good company, particularly Hetty, she said Henrietta was too much of a mouthful.
Peter was quieter, seemed preoccupied at times but relaxed more when on his own.
On such a confined space on a ship and dining together we became quite close to Hetty who seemed to be spending more time with us than she did with Peter
On the second week we noticed a coolness between them.
They were aware we had noticed this and in an understanding way told us they were on the cruise in an attempt to save their marriage.
He had been under considerable financial pressure, Hetty was feeling neglected and they had drifted apart.
All credit to them both, they did their best to behave impeccably in our company.
Obviously by this time they had become friends, particularly my Wife and Hetty and we sincerely hoped they would sort themselves out.
On the last evening Hetty joined us for drinks without Peter. She said he was getting back into his dark mood thinking about the “real world” again.
She asked my Wife if she could write to us from time to time as she valued our friendship and my wife agreed.
This surprised me as like most people on holiday who meet and enjoy the company of others for a week or two we go through the usual courtesy of saying we must keep in touch but never get around to exchanging addresses. It softens the goodbyes.
My Wife said it seemed unkind not to do so at a time when Hetty seemed vulnerable.
I thought hope it doesn’t come back to bite you but kept thoughts to myself.
We saw them just once more together when disembarking, they waved but both looked very downcast.
That was two months ago. We never received a letter and my Wife wondered how things had worked out. In my case it was a relief as I am reluctant to become involved in others domestic problems.
This has been frowned upon in the past, my being mildly accused of insensitivity but so often your input is not appreciated in the long run.

We had just cleared away after Sunday lunch yesterday when our bell rang.
Bad timing as we were pouring over our cruise videos and reliving what had been such a happy time.
Being a gentleman and good husband I struggled out of my favourite chair.
I opened the door and there stood Hetty with a very large suitcase.
I’ve left him she said as she put her case down in the hall!