Packed into the taxi shuttle aka, minivan, carry-ons perched on our laps, I observed my two best friends; glaring at me. Sandi looked ready to spit nails, and Ray was chewing on her bottom lip the way she always did when nervous. Any confrontation between the three of us made her nervous.
I thought the air in Honolulu was almost heavy enough to see, but the tension in the minivan was just about as thick.
“Mary McFadden, I can’t believe you didn’t rent a car!” Sandi, (Sandra Dee Williams on her birth certificate), only used our full names when she was trying to sound like an angry mother; ironic since she wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. Her voice was loaded with disgust and I was glad we were the only three in the car so no one else would witness my embarrassment.
Swallowing my dismay, I licked dry lips, realizing I should have known they weren’t going to be happy with the situation.
“How did you expect us to travel around the island while we’re here?” Sandi continued. “Find one of those bike rental shops?”
I sighed; tired, frustrated and getting angry myself.
“I’ll explain it when we get to the condo,” I told her in a low firm voice, the one usually reserved for my children. It generally worked on everyone, and to my relief, Sandi clamped her mouth into a thin line and looked away.
Turning my gaze to the front of the van, I watched the amount on the meter continue its steady climb, my stomach dropping with each number.
It had been my idea to spend a week in paradise at Brad’s and my condo timeshare. None of us had been to Hawaii before and the internet had all the information we would need, right? I’d promised the girls that everything would be taken care of, I’d handle all the arrangements.
“You could have let us know what to expect,” Ray said, her voice low. “Then it wouldn’t have been such a surprise.”
I had fully intended to set up a car rental with the three of us splitting the cost, but by the time I’d gotten around to doing that, they were all booked. Apparently we were arriving during the same time as several conventions, and the only car available was some luxury thing for $200 a day.
There was no way I was going to pay that. A luxury car? We were here on a budget, well at least I was. There had to be a better way.
So, unable to admit that I’d waited too long, I hadn’t said anything, hoping they wouldn’t mind too much and would be willing to find alternatives with me. Obviously it wasn’t going to happen that way, and I should have known. Typical. We rarely do things the easy way.
“Here we are, ladies,” Our driver, an oriental looking man named Sid, said cheerfully, pulling into a circular driveway, disrupting my thoughts. “The Waikiki Banyon.”
He got out of the van and went to get the suitcases from the back. I reached over to open the sliding door, anxious to get out and away from the tense atmosphere. The instant it slid open, the warm, moist air whooshed in, feeling as foreign to me as the lush greenery surrounding the entrance to the resort.
We sure weren’t in Utah anymore.
The view from the large tinted window was awe inspiring. The late afternoon sun glinted off the office buildings below, and a hawk lazily floated on a thermal as the Wasatch Mountains dominated the scene.
It was what I’d spent the past ten years working for. To think I’d almost lost it due to the actions of a coworker...my teeth ground together at the memory, darkening the edges of my vision.
Much as I had worked at forgiving him, bitterness still colored the memories of that experience. At the end of a vacation in Hawaii, I’d arrived at the Honolulu airport to discover my receptionist had been trying to call me. For several hours she’d been trying to let me know what had been happening at the office during my vacation.
The new VP in sales had panicked about a presentation, despite my preparation. He’d blown the whole meeting due to his nerves and lost the client. Not satisfied with how things had gone, he’d then informed everyone it was my fault due to lack of planning and I’d had to prove myself. Again.
Fortunately, the CEO and board managed to see through his lies and after a thorough investigation had managed to gain the truth, enabling me retain the position I’d worked so hard to achieve. The VP had been shown the door, much to my relief. It had been a big scandal, and the talk of the company for too long for my tastes, but it was finally behind me and I could focus on doing what I did best.
It wasn’t as if I had anything else to focus on, no family life to go home to, nothing else to fill my time.
I swiveled in the leather chair to face my desk, a lovely cherry wood piece that made me want to run a finger over it every time there was a spare minute. But my gaze was pulled to the large glass vase sitting to one side, full of roses of every color. It was big enough to block my view of the door, and I wanted to toss it in the trash.
So much for the latest dating prospect, I thought with a sigh, wishing I could just enjoy the beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, they reminded me too much of the man who’d sent them. Hopefully Samantha, my receptionist, would like them.
The sunset over the mountains was glorious mix of red and yellow as I drove along the highway, headed toward Fish Lake National Forest. It had been a long time since I’d driven this way, and never alone.
Brad hadn’t been happy. But, as the girls would say, Brad was never happy when I left for a trip. This one wasn’t the best timing, but then he would probably say none of them were good timing. We had children, a life that didn’t stop when I left home, and it was never convenient.
However, after 20 years of marriage, he was finally coming to grips with the fact that it saved my sanity and probably the children’s hind ends. He actually admitted this time that it probably benefitted him as well, and it had made my whole day when I heard that.
It was progress that he’d been able to admit it in the first place. The warm glow of that discussion started in my stomach and went up to my heart, bringing tears to my eyes.
“Oh good grief, Mary McFadden, you are one sentimental old fool,” I said out loud as I turned onto the section of highway that went through Gunnison and headed south-east toward Fish Lake. It was a four hour trip, this drive from my home. I’d convinced Brad that I would be fine without the girls going with me. It was Ray’s friend’s house, and this was her deal, but I’d been anxious to get away.