When we got to the island three weeks later, on one of the hottest days of the summer, our new air conditioner started up willingly enough.
But it refused to gasp out even the tiniest breath of cool air.
We stood like morons beneath the rectangular box mounted on the wall and waited in vain for relief.
I dialed Jane.
“Remember that day when you said it was cool as a cucumber in our bedroom?”
“Sure,” she said, her voice already betraying slight unease.
“Well, the cucumber’s a pickle now.”
She took this in. “The AC. You’re sure you’ve turned it on right?”
“As in, did we hit the ‘on’ button?”
Exasperated sigh. “Okay, did you try the reset button?”
“I’ll be right over.”
She tried everything. She called the man who had just installed the unit; unfortunately he was off-island. She called another HVAC guy, who came over and said our coolant had leaked out. “Can you replace it?” we asked. “Absolutely,” he replied with a winning smile. “In two or three days.”
I tried to imagine sleeping in the sweat lodge our bedroom had become.
“I can’t do this,” I said, feeling cowardly but oddly unrepentant. It was too hot to repent. It was too hot to breathe.
“We’ll have to go to a hotel.”
Michael rolled his eyes. Jane shifted her eyes minimally but stopped short of rolling them.
“I’ve got an idea,” she said, in her most conspiratorial tone. “And you’ll love it.”
She moved us to one of her other rental properties. It was much nicer than ours. There was a gorgeous view and a lovely pool.
Best of all, there was a fierce air conditioner in the bedroom that kept us shivering all night.
We were glad when our own air conditioner finally got fixed, but it was nice to have a vacation from our vacation all the same.