Rachael Ritchey is the originator of this challenge
The prompt this week: …news…
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Susan hadn’t been away since her honeymoon twelve years before. Her excitement about the cruise roiled inside her like a pressure cooker ready to blow. There were so many details, concentrating wore her out.
“Harry, you printed the tickets, right?”
“Yes, I said I did.”
“And our passports?” She fumbled in their suitcase rechecking the contents yet again. “I made a list, but can’t find it. Have you seen it anywhere?”
“You worry too much. Come. I think you need a drink. “
“I’ll check on the twins first. Scotch. Neat. See you in the living-room.”
Long-legged Harry reached her in one step and squeezed her elbow. Dark velvet eyes searched hers, luminous and gentle. Soot black curls hung over his forehead. “Two more days.”
She leaned into his lanky frame and breathed him in, then sighed. Dear Harry. What would I ever do without you?
He found her chin, lifted it with a finger, and caressed her mouth with a feathery kiss. Her face glowed pink. Before she found her voice, he patted her bottom and veered away. “Downstairs.”
Susan closed the twins’ bedroom door. A cell chimed downstairs. Who can that be? She massaged her neck and drifted down the steps, her husband’s side of the conversation muffled at first.
“Right. Yes. Of course. See you then.” He tossed the phone on the sofa.
“Who was that?” She stared wide-eyed at his now furled forehead, curls pushed back. “What’s wrong?”
“That was your dad. They missed their connection.”
“You’re doing that pulling-on-your-lip-thing. What else?” She rubbed her neck again.
Harry shifted his gaze to the tray of liquor bottles on the buffet. “Sit,” he said, “How about that drink?”
“They have an hour’s wait, but may turn back home. Your mother’s feeling unwell.”
“What’s the matter with her?” Hands crossed on her chest the words came out dry and hoarse as if she’d swallowed sand.
“Sounds like flu—they think. A nurse on their flight couldn’t confirm.” He handed her a drink and studied her face.
“But their connection is less than two hours away. They’re almost here.” Tucking wayward blonde hair behind an ear, she stared deep into her glass, as if unsure what to do with it. The errant wisps sprang back.
“Your dad will call when it’s sorted.” He threw an arm around her shoulder. “Take a drink. It’ll calm your nerves.”
Susan raised her glass. Half-way to her lips, the cell chimed. In a couple strides Harry seized the phone and set down his glass. His wife wiped her chin and patted her blouse where it had spilled. She pulled a shirt tail out of her jeans and dabbed at the wet spots.
“Good idea. If you’re sure, Peter… I’ll get a pen.”
She banged down her drink and raced to the kitchen for a pad and pen. Harry whipped them out of her grasp. Phone tucked against his shoulder, he nodded as he wrote. “Fine, I’ll see you before nine. Which terminal? Fine. Fine.”
“Where’s your drink? Tut-tut. First take a swallow.” She threw her head back. Harry grabbed the hand with the glass. “Not too fast.” Still she sputtered afterwards and he whacked her between the shoulder blades.
“Your Mom and Dad took a room at the airport hotel and will fly out in the morning. I’ll pick them up myself and cancel their limo for tonight.”
“So, Mom’s better?” Susan rubbed a temple and closed her eyes. “Now that we aren’t waiting up for them, maybe we should call it an early night.”
“My thoughts, exactly. Off you go, I’ll make that call and shut off the lights. Be up in a jiffy.
* * *
Susan crawled out of bed, mouth dry as cotton balls. Bleh. Cheerful birds chirped and tweeted outside the window. She padded to the bathroom to brush her teeth though she had done so the night before.
“Want pancakes for breakfast?” asked Harry, face buried in his pillow. No answer offered, he sat up and surveyed the room. The sheets and blankets were twisted and half on the floor. He checked his cell on the night table. No messages. Good.
Susan gargled and the water in the sink gurgled. She stuck her head around the open door. “You’re awake? Want pancakes? After I shower?”
“Go ahead. I’ll start in the kitchen. No texts. No news, which is good, right?”
* * *
Morning rush hour traffic brutal as usual, Harry arrived in plenty of time. The slip of paper wasn’t in his pocket. He pulled into the first parking lot and punched the number for home.
“Everything, okay? The school bus will be here in a minute.” Susan’s voice squeaked.
“Forgot the paper and can’t remember which terminal, one or three?”
“Where’s the paper? Boys don’t move. I mean it.”
“Living-room or night table.”
“Living-room— It’s two. See you soon.”
* * *
By ten o’clock, she’d paced and length of the living-room half a dozen times, peering out the window every few steps. Where is everyone? I’ll give them five more minutes.
Before Susan snatched the phone, it sprang to life. She blinked, startled. “Harry, where are you guys?”
“This is the drugstore. Your prescription is ready for pickup.”
The phone dropped on the coffee table, she continued to pace. A cruiser crept up the driveway. She was struck stock-still.
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