Stories

Solo – Fawzy Zablah

His eyes followed her up and down the beach and the attention made her giddy. 

She was home now. This felt like home. The freedom. The white sand. The beautiful bronzed tourists. The sound of the Greek tongue. The smell of the sea. Greece is home. She was sure of it now.

“So, where from?”

An older silver haired man probably around his mid to late sixties inquired as he lay on his hotel beach chair next to her.

“I am from Miami,” she said.

“Miami makes me happy; I own property in Miami’s downtown.”

“Really?”

“Yes, two buildings fairly close to the stadium where your Miami Heat play.”

“That’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m sure I’ve been inside them.”

“I am sure you have,” the silver haired man said. “Are you here with Sofia? She’s from Miami too.”

He pointed at a woman who was talking to a very fit and handsome fisherman. She was a tall brunette with a slender figure. 

“Hmm…yes and no. We met on the plane, but we’re both solo.”

“Is that so?”

“That’s right.”

“Solo traveling is the best type of traveling one can do. Not many will travel alone. It takes a special kind of soul.”

“Yes, my friends think I’m looney tunes when I go on vacations alone.”

Normally she would not have acknowledged she was by herself but this old rich bastard was like a bunny rabbit. She felt safer with him than her own grandpa who was still in prison for real estate fraud. Isn’t it ironic, Alanis?

“You are too pretty to be single; how did your boyfriend take it? Or is he as free spirited as you?”

How cute she thought, the old rich bastard is probing. Her next thought made her pause, because her whole situation made her cringe and she was fighting the embarrassment or was it the guilt. Nope, she thought again, no guilt for me. I am good she said in her head repeating the words like practicing a line on the set of a film with a picky director.

“My husband was supposed to come but there were complications of the family kind.”

“I am intrigued.”

“Of course you are.”

“What kind of complications, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“His mother is ill.”

The silver haired man perked up and she immediately regretted it.

“We do have only one mother. It must be serious.”

She didn’t want to get into it but this asshole wouldn’t stop. Why the fuck does he care so much why I’m here alone?

“Unfortunately it is quite serious but we insisted I should still come.”

“Sometimes you have to let go of your loved one and move on with your life. You can’t sit around just waiting for them to die; it’s quite vulgar.”

“It’s a delicate thing and we are aware of our different opinions on things…sometimes…and decided this was the best choice.”

He looked down and then placing his hand on her arm he said, “I understand.”

He was sitting up now with his hairless, bronzed legs turned toward her. She noticed he had a pot. But it fit him. A pot belly that wasn’t too obscene. Like a granddaddy bod.  

“My apologies for assuming too many things that are none of my business.”

“No it’s alright, we don’t wear our wedding bands anymore because we kept losing them.”

“You’re on the same page, that’s a relief.”

“Ha!” she said.

Then she immediately thought it was adorable, everything he said and his mannerisms and expressions and she wouldn’t have been surprised that he took a Cialis this morning and it was showing with that cocky personality.

“And please don’t take this as an offense, am I at liberty to assume this is an open relationship?”

“In my heart of hearts, I think we could be heading that way but not in this instance. He hates when I take solo trips. But that’s just the way I am and thank God, he understands that and I understand him. So in a way we do have an understanding.”

The golden senior smiled.

“Kind of like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?”

“Sometimes or from time to time but this trip was our trip but life happens sometimes and what can you do?”

“Life happens?”

“His mother is dying.”

“I am sorry to hear that,” he said and put his big hand on her arm. 

“She’s in hospice. We planned this trip over a year ago with all the reservations made and our European route mapped out. But she got worse and went to hospice so he tried to cancel the entire thing but I didn’t let him.”

“He expected you to mourn by his side. He wanted you to pause your life for his mother who had already lived hers.”

“Yes,” she said with tears coming down her eyes putting on her sunglasses.

“You understand that he needs to be with his mother.”

“I doubt she’s going anywhere soon.”

“But you’re not sure.”

“It just always felt like no matter what he always put her first.”  

“But at the same time he’s a good son. So you must be a proud wife.”

“Yes, I mean of course that’s one of the reasons I married him but she controls him. But it’s fine now because I’m here and he’s not and it was his decision.”

The golden senior smiled. Yes, she thought, that will be his name.

“Marriage,” he said, “is a paradox; like having a bird in a cage.”

She smiled. She did not understand. Before she could say anything he cackled like she imagined him to cackle. Maybe he was not filthy rich and just rich.

“May I be excused,” she said. “I have to go to the lady’s room.”

He stood up and his eyes followed her warmly. Once she was inside the lady’s room she went to the farthest stall from the entrance and sat on the toilet and locked the door. She took out a small vial of cocaine and after opening it, started snorting it with the Swiss Army aid knife keychain she bought at a farmer’s market.

She wanted to say, “Good stuff, hot stuff.” But she didn’t want to be a weirdo, and then her hubby suddenly came to mind and she shoveled that little mound of guilt right out of the front doors of her heart or conscience? One or the other. I am so cool she thought. I am still fucking cool at 42—such a bad bitch. I am not a loser, or am I?

The rich bastard was waiting for her outside at the edge of the sand like a very old bronze statue of a baron who was fighting his decline on a sad beach here…in Greece.

She didn’t regret sleeping with him, what she regretted was getting too drunk again. Like when she fucked her coworker Steve at the school. And that incident was very accidental.

These types of encounters had to stop. What kind of a wife is she? It totally went against the kind of wife and partner she wants to be. But all of this had already been discussed with the hubby. She was trying but it wasn’t working out so let’s deal or not deal with the reality of our relationship. We’re adults she said to him, Javi, her poor, long suffering husband. 

But I also am a long suffering wife. Or am I? She looked over at the silver haired, bronze old man snoring next to her. The rich can sure snore. I wonder how rich was her next thought. 

Just look at his flaccid penis. It was inside you last night and you don’t even remember. Enough of this guilt.

She sat up, covered herself with the bed sheet and looked at him and then at the clock on the night table. The hotel room was huge. She looked up and there was a golden chandelier; it was beautiful. It shined like a space orb. It was so enthralling and meant to be the focus of the room.

Is that God judging me? Are you there God? I am not a bad wife, I’m an honest wife. I always tell Javi about my encounters. Our marriage is strong because there are no secrets. Secrets are poison for a relationship.

She got out of the bed fully naked and continued to look up at the chandelier orb. Golden goose turned on his side, still snoring.

That is a rich man’s snore: deep and dark like a badly injured lion’s roar. It went up, all the way to the ceiling, shaking the burning chandelier. She could teach a science class with this example. An important part of the universe was in this luxurious hotel room where some nasty sex just happened.

She really had to leave. She had to leave now before she regretted her whole life; her entire being, for God’s sake before she regretted these bangs she got and leaving her poor suffering husband behind.

 

“I wrote a little note and left.”

“A little note? How little? Did it include your hotel and room number? Did it include your phone?”

“It included my name and a thank you.”

“Manners. You have good manners.”

“Thank you. I was raised with manners. I have to call my husband.”

“Call him after brunch…please.”

“No, I mean I really should call him now.”

“Why? You feel a ping?”

“A ping? What’s that?”

“A ping of guilt from having sex with that old man, AKA daddy?”

“No ping or pang. But I am a married woman and I need to communicate with hubby.”

“Hubby can’t wait till after brunch? I mean come on girl.”

“You’re right. He can wait. I’m hungry too.”

“Then let’s go.”

The hotel restaurant overlooked the beach and the white sand reflected on the windows like aluminum foil. It was like the light of God exposing them as pretenders in the land of honey.

They decided to get fucked up on mimosas. Why not? She was sore. She was a sore wife with sore eyes, a sore heart, a sore pussy and a sore energy. No guilt. She would call Javi later and explain everything. The conversation would surely go like this:

“Hi honey.”

“Hi, how’s Greece?”

“Greece is good. Greece is Greece, but I am well.”

“How were your flights?”

“My flights were good also. I slept. You were right about the Xanax. How is mom doing?”

“Mom has some bad days but good days too. She asks about you and I just keep lying, making up shit.”

At this moment there will most surely be a pause for our hero to collect her thoughts. Her first quick emotion will be anger and she will have mini fantasies about what she would really like to say:

“Can’t believe you lie for me babe. Just be honest and say I have a life and hers is at the end and why should I, your fucking wife, waste one second on her.” 

That’s what she visualized herself saying. But what she really said was nothing close to that. It was more like: 

“Do you feel like she might be doing better?”

“I think she is doing a little better. Yasmine is more cautious.”

“What does Yasmine say?”

She hoped, even though she felt like she was going to hell for thinking it, that it was severe and quick and blunt and wrapped in realism and optimism to let go.

“She just said patients on hospice are like one of those Cessna planes flying just about 5 feet above the water. She told me to picture a big black lake with a little white plane flying low but sometimes rising, but if it goes below five, four, three…. then splash—it’s captured by the dark water.”

She didn’t say anything; she was really thinking about it. Yasmine the Jamaican nurse who came on Sundays to relieve her husband was like a Magical Negro of sorts.

They were mortal enemies now. Her voice echoed throughout her mother in law’s apartment. They didn’t like each other; Yasmine didn’t seem to like the wife because she didn’t act like a proper wife and the wife didn’t like Yasmine because she was loud and black and told the truth at all moments of illumination. 

She was an obvious Mary. She hated that so much. The woman was a mirror of her failings as a supportive partner.

“I will try to keep you updated,” her husband said.

“Please do,” she said, not really wanting any updates because she already knew how it would end. Why update? It was better for the long suffering wife to just update him on the wonderful feelings a moment of this trip was giving her. No suffering here. She was going to live her life and not for anyone else. Why suffer if you can find ways to avoid it? She thought she was brilliant.

He sighed. She was so used to his quirks now. At first, they were adorable, now they were slowly creeping under her skin. She wanted to stay married. She was not giving herself or themselves an easy exit. The day he convinced her, that was the promise she made to herself. If she got married, she will stay married. He knew damn well who he was marrying. They had a deal that he would never try to change her. Solo vacations by herself would be the least of his worries. He was marrying a hurricane and he had to understand. 

What did he have to understand? He had to understand that they would be legally married but it wasn’t going to be an old fashioned marriage but a kind of new organism where while they were considered a team, they were also individuals in their own right and the normal etiquette would not be followed. If she felt like having a one night stand with some guy or some girl, it would be guilt free. She loved her husband and she would always return but this was a new kind of relationship without hang ups or guilt trips or any inkling of jealousy.

Yes, she was fully aware this would be harder for him than for her. But to her, love is not possessive or jealous or controlling or toxic or obsessive. For her, love was the opposite of everything people have been sold for ages in romantic comedies and novels and poems and sentimental songs. Yes, she was sentimental but to a degree. Or maybe she was sentimental but for things that mattered more like personal freedom. A soul must be allowed to flourish like a plant without hindrance. 

Marriage like most institutions evolves as the world gains knowledge. She loves her husband but she also loves herself. Loving yourself comes first always. Look in the mirror and love yourself first.

“Tell mom she’s in my thoughts.”

“I will tell her right now.”

“Tell her all she needs right now is her son and she’s got that.”

“I will tell her that too.”

There was a big sigh followed by silence.

“The new nurse is here. I gotta get that,” he said.

“Okay, well take care.”

“I will.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

She hung up first or he hung up first, she wasn’t sure.

 

That’s exactly how it would go so there was really no reason to worry about it.

“What should we order? What looks good?”

“Everything looks good.”

“See, this is what I like about solo traveling.”

“Brunch,” Sofia said, taking a long sip from her mimosa.

“No, the delightful surprises of being with new people, new experiences.”

“Yes, I totally feel that.”

“You’re in a constant state of ‘new’ and there’s no chance of boredom. You’re constantly excited.”

Sofia finished her mimosa in one long gulp.

“Is it boredom you’re raging at? Is boredom the enemy? Is boredom the great fear?”

“Wow, you make a valid point. I never really looked at it that way. Look at that.”

She was really considering it now; her relationship to boredom.

Suddenly there was a commotion on the beach. People ran toward the water as others ran away from the water. It began like a little chaos and it spread like if the waves from the water came out of the sea, transforming into people.

She didn’t know what to think at first.

“Is someone drowning?”

“Something is definitely happening.”

Their waiter was standing with other waiters at the edge of the restaurant watching the people run in and out.

They watched him and when he got close enough to their table, they asked him what was going on.

“Looks like a shark attack.”

“A shark?”

“A sneaky shark because it has been doing this all summer.”

“Oh my God,” they said.

“Shark attacks in Greece—who knew?”

“They never happened much until now.”

A fit man wearing blue speedos and drenched in blood walks into the restaurant and yells, “Carcharias! Carcharias!”

The entire restaurant turns toward him. Everyone is silent. Nobody moves.

 

She woke up early the next day because the rich silver haired Rothschild wanted to take them on his yacht or boat. She thought about checking in on her husband again just to quiet her growing guilt. 

Then she wondered why she didn’t ask the old rich bastard what kind of boat. The type of boat makes a difference.

Still in bed and horny for no reason she grabbed the vibrator from the nightstand and pulled down her panties and started playing with herself. She was thinking about her hubby being down there eating her out like he tends to do. She pushed the face of every other man away. Her poor husband deserved this much—from his wife thousands of miles away—at the very least to masturbate only to him this fine Greek morning.

But right at the end when she was on the verge of some type of relief the face of her poor dear husband transformed kind of like a butterfly into the young, handsome face of one of the waiters who had flirted with her on the morning of her arrival and that did it, the switch made her whole body shake, culminating in one of her best orgasms in a while.