sufferance by paul j. roberts

14 Nov

Marsha sat in the ceremonial tea house, staring into her glass of water while her mother talked.

“It isn’t right, with all I’ve spent. I said to the steward, I paid a lot more for this than for the flights, and you wouldn’t expect an aeroplane to drop from the sky just because of an engine fault.”

Marsha was not listening to her mother, but instead was concentrating on the gaps between the words, hearing the distant music that was carried on the breeze from further up the Carnival Splendor.

There had been a fire in the engine room yesterday morning, which had immobilised the ship. They spent the day yesterday without toilets or running water, and even now the air conditioning, hot water and telephones weren’t working.

“I thought the last time I would ever use a bucket was in that tent in Wales. It’s not seemly, squatting over buckets at my time of life. I go on cruise ships and stay in hotels in order to avoid buckets.”

The last time that Marsha had cruised was half a decade ago, after her mother had bought her two tickets as a Christmas present. She had hoped to take a good friend of hers along, but the naïveté of this plan soon became clear. The subtle hints quickly ceased being so, before turning into nags, and finally threats. There are some things that one just cannot fight.

After the last cruise, they were offered a discount if they booked another at some point over the next five years. Of course, her mother accepted. To an outsider, the previous cruise would not seem to be as disastrous as the current, inasmuch as it was not reported in the national press, and the coastguard were not involved to any great extent. Nevertheless, it did turn out to be a supreme feat of endurance. Of all the places she could be with her mother, she felt that 2,000 square meters of boat on a very large ocean did not rank highly.

“And the food! I mean, really. I ask you, of all the things to eat on a cruise, who would’ve thought you’d ever get sp—”

Marsha pushed back her chair noisily and walked away. The second-most vexing thing on her mind was the knowledge that her mother was enjoying herself. After gossiping, moaning was her favourite pastime. The most worrying, of course, was the promise of compensation by Carnival Cruise Lines. A free cruise.

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One Response to “sufferance by paul j. roberts”

  1. ingridfnl November 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    fantastic: “Marsha pushed back her chair noisily and walked away. The second-most vexing thing on her mind was the knowledge that her mother was enjoying herself. After gossiping, moaning was her favourite pastime.”

    🙂

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