There was a deafening crash from the side of the house.
I jumped to my feet and ran to the edge of the balcony facing the driveway. Below me sat a massive 4 x 4 backhoe, idling its motor.
Nearby was a felled palm tree…
…one of the glorious row of stately palms separating our property from Corinne’s. Now the row looked like an insincere smile with one tooth missing.
Chris, the guy who had helped us finish the house when Steve got sick, was sitting in the cab of the huge machine. When he saw me he swung open the glass door, a guilty smile plastered across his face.
“I guess I need driving lessons,” he remarked.
“What in god’s name are you doing, Chris?”
“Getting ready to dig your pool,” he said.
“The pool Michael said you guys are going to build.”
I stared at him in disbelief. “We didn’t discuss a pool.”
Chris lifted his hands in protest. “Hey, keep me out of it. I’m just doing what I was told.”
I all but stomped my foot. “Where’s Michael?”
“He’s not here?”
“He told me to meet him here at three.”
I looked at my watch. 3:15.
“But we can’t build a pool,” I said to Chris. “To begin with, we don’t need one.”
He stared at me blankly.
“And they’re a helluva lot of work,” I continued.
“Plus, we can’t afford it.”
Chris all but rolled his eyes, clearly wishing I’d vaporize into thin air. Or at least quit lecturing him about something he had no control over.
“The point is,” I summed up, “we’re not building a $70,000 pool.”
“That’s what Michael said. $80,000.”
I threw up my hands in disbelief. “He’s insane.”
Chris turned away, fed up with my ranting. “Oh look, here he comes now,” he said with relief, peering down the road.
I turned and looked but I couldn’t see him.
It seemed like hours.
“Hi,” Michael said, standing over me, covered in sweat.
I blinked up at him, struggling back into consciousness.
“Hey there,” I mumbled.
“I think someone fell asleep.” He stared pointedly at the empty glasses beside me.
I lay back, gazing at the white ceiling of the veranda, pondering my swimming pool dream.
“You were talking in your sleep,” Michael said
This smelled like trouble to me—you never knew what your subconscious would give away when you were snoozing. “Hmm.”
He sat down on the chair beside me. “It was kind of strange. You said the words ‘swimming pool’ in a very disapproving way.”
“Do you remember what it was all about?”
I flicked an imaginary speck of lint from my polo shirt. “Not the slightest idea.”
“Liar. You always remember your dreams.”
I picked up one of the empty glasses at my side, stalling for time. “Well, just random images here and there.”
He gave me his most knowing look. “You dreamed that we were getting a pool.”
Okay, folks. This is one of the things about being with someone for a lot of years. The longer you’re together, the harder it is to trick them.
In other words, the price you pay for sticking with the same person for decades is that you can never, ever tell them a convincing lie.
This strikes me as terribly unfair.
“Well, maybe there was a pool association somewhere in the dream.”
He took a sip of his drink, peering at me over the rim of the glass. “Do you want a pool?”
“Oh god no!”
He recoiled slightly. “Why not?”
“For one thing we can’t afford it.”
He sat and looked at me for at least ten or fifteen seconds, so long that I began squirming uncomfortably in my seat.
“What?!” I asked irritably.
“How would you react if I told you I got us a really good deal on a pool?”
Deep breath. This was it.
I looked out across the water toward the mountains of the big island.
At the same time, very methodically, I began the process of deactivating my anxiety button, of neutralizing all those negative synapses that instinctively storm my brain at the slightest sign of trouble.
Or massive expenditure.
After all, this little trick had seen me through a lot over the past few years.
“I’d say…” I began, suddenly at a rare loss for words. Michael waited, tinkling the ice cubes in his glass, gazing out across the treetops, as patient as time itself.
“I’d say,” I continued, finding my voice at last, “it’ll be total hell to get decent pool furniture shipped down here.”
Satisfied at last, he smiled and leaned back in his chair.
He knew he had me now.
* * * * *
Thanks for reading our story so far. Believe it or not, we’ve blogged 150 days straight—in fact, every day since February 1st (except for one day in transit to Australia when that pesky International Date Line got the best of us).
It’s been a great experience–we’ve received hundreds of interesting and witty comments, and we’ve had as many as 2,400 views some days. Woo hoo!
And although there’s a lot more to our story, we’ve decided to slow things down for the summer. We’ll keep blogging but not as often.
In the meantime, feel free to scroll back and read our narrative from the beginning. And let us hear from you. We truly enjoy your comments.
Above all, please, please stay tuned. The fun will continue–we promise!
Patrick and Michael