I tried to run, to swim, to fly away from the ground careening toward me. How had this happened?
That morning I had awoken in a dream with my husband, Mark, snoring softly beside me. I smiled, kissing his cheek and snuggling myself against his chest.
Mark’s eyes opened. “I could get used to this.”
“Aurora Blackright. Wife of the handsome Dr. Blackright.”
“That idea,” he said with a chuckle, “will take some getting used to.”
“Why? You already know you’re handsome.”
He rolled onto his back and I lay on his chest with his arms around me. Mark shook his head, his blue eyes closing. After a moment he began to snore.
“Mrs. Mark Blackright.” I had always identified myself as a trust fund kid. I had envisioned a long life spent in fun and travel, an alpha female doing as she pleased, but that had gone out the window when Mark smashed into my life. Literally, he had run a red light and destroyed my car. I had gone to the hospital to scream at him and ended up with a dinner date as soon as he was released. After two years of dating he proposed and we were married yesterday, taking a red-eye flight to Hawaii last night.
I watched the sun rise outside our hotel room’s window. After an hour Mark and I arose and grabbed our backpacks for an impromptu mountain hike.
The air was cool and damp under the canopy of trees. When I began to shiver Mark gave me his jacket. “Are you sure? I–”
“I’m too hot.” Mark waved me off with a wink and rushed to silence his phone as it began to ring.
“Who was that?”
“It doesn’t matter.” He stopped to give me a hug and help me over a fallen log.
After another mile his phone announced a text message. He stopped to read it before slipping the phone back into his pocket.
“Who was it this time?”
“Work,” he said with a shrug.
“Don’t they know you’re busy?” I laughed. “You’ll never have a day off if you’re not careful. You’re making yourself too invaluable.”
“I like my job.” His shoulders tensed. “You know that.”
“I was teasing. But your office is a little awkward now, don’t you think?”
He began to outdistance me. “Jenny was about to be kicked out of her apartment. I had to hire her.”
“I understand wanting to help her,” I quickened my pace, “but do you have to work together? Doesn’t it seem out of place to make her your secretary? She’s your ex, Mark!”
“My ex,” he said stopping and taking me by the shoulders, “exactly. I married you, not her.Maybe what she does for me is all she’s good for. What does it matter if we work together?” His phone rang again.
“There’s the answer to your question.”
“You don’t know it’s her.” He began walking and checked the message.
We continued hiking in silence. Why is he acting like this? Why couldn’t I trust him? “Can we stop for a second, please? The pebbles on the trail feel like they’re cutting through my shoes.”
Mark nodded. “I think there’s a place to rest up ahead.” He reached back and offered me his hand. “I’m sorry, honey. I just want you to trust me more.”
I hugged his arm. “It’s her I don’t trust.” I craned my neck to look at him and stubbed my toe.
Scooping me up, he carried me to the resting spot. My eyes widened trying to absorb the breathtaking view. From higher in the mountain a stream flowed past and tumbled over the edge of a cliff. Beyond the fall the trees gave way to a brilliantly blue sky.
As Mark settled me onto a stone, his phone rang. His hand darted for his picket. “I’ll be right back.”
He stepped into the tree-line to take the call and I strained to hear him.
“Baby, I know—”
“It’s not what we planned—”
“Listen baby, I love you—”
Jumping up, I plunged through the trees. “Who is that?”
“It’s just work.” His eyes widened. “Go back and sit down. This will only take a second.”
I could hear Jenny’s voice as he turned from me. I snatched the phone from him and ran.
I skidded to a stop and sent pebbles skittering over the edge of the waterfall, plunging the distance to the rocks. I threw Mark’s phone after them and felt his hands grip my shoulders. He yanked me around to face him. “Why did you tell her you loved her?” I began to cry.
He shook me. “Where is my phone?”
“Your phone?” I pushed him away. “That’s what you care about? You’ve been cheating on me when we’ve been married less than 48 hours, and that’s what you’re focusing on?”
He blinked at me.
“There!” I pointed over the edge. “That’s where your precious phone is. Why would you do this? Why with her?” His glare pierced my heart.
“Aurora, you’re overreacting. I love you, I’ve married you, but a man needs more. Do you understand?”
“You’re a liar and a manipulator.”
Raising his hand he brought it down and across my cheek, the sting spreading through my face and knocking me off balance. I stumbled back, my feet finding no purchase but the air. Closing my eyes, my heart and stomach left me as I braced for impact.
I cried as I hit the ground. I waited. Nothing hurt. Was I dead? Tentatively I opened my eyes and found myself on the fluffy carpet of our hotel room.
“Honey?” Coming to me, Mark helped me up. “You okay? You were talking in your sleep. We need to get moving if we’re going to hike to the peak by sunrise. I’ve got the backpacks—” His phone began to ring and he rushed to silence it.
“Who was that?”
He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”
To read my follow up character interview with Aurora Blackright, click here: https://justinaluther.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/ten-questions-for-a-fictional-character-aurora-blackright-of-falling/
This story is a part of When Readers Write Blah Buster Dream Vacation Series. To read more short stories, visit http://www.whenreaderswrite.com