May 26, 2113
Engines roared beneath the surface of the water as fishermen departed to the Pacific blue. One boat remained though at the far end of the wharf. The Chanda II bumped against the wharf as it lifted and fell against the wakes of the water.
The captain of the boat, Aaron Lambright, wrestled underneath the sheets. He groaned shielding his blue eyes from the Sun’s light. Aaron threw the sheets off of him with annoyance and rose from the bed. His shaggy brown hair matted against the side of his head in a jumbled mess, while he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and reached for his alarm clock.
“7:30 am….” He yawned as he stretched his arms above his head feeling his bones crack from his knuckles to the middle of his spine. Aaron twisted the face of the alarm towards him again and slapped his palm against his forehead. “Damn, Abi’s going to kill me.”
He slung his legs over the edge of the bed and walked to the porthole. All of the other boats already set out for sea for the day. He walked away from the window and stumbled on an obstacle of beer cans underneath his dirty clothes. The odor of fish and sweat reeked in the cabin. He opened the bathroom door and leaned his head against the doorframe to balance him, while his hangover pounded at his temples. A bottle of Captain Morgan: Spiced Rum smiled at him from the countertop like a satanic jackal eager to tear into his liver.
“You really tore me up last night,” he said, tilting the bottle to his face. The amber liquid rolled up the side of the glass away from the label. “Mm….” He turned the label away from him as his throat gurgled with vomit. He clenched the toilet pressing his forehead against the wooden lid. His back arched as he puked profusely into the toilet.
He grabbed the edge of the counter pulling him back to the mirror. His bloodshot eyes were swollen and watery at the rims of his eyelids. Sweat beaded across face and trickled off of his soaked brown beard. He flung the medicine cabinet closed and pulled down the small white bottle of Advil.
“Thank God man made you,” he said, tossing two maroon tablets into his mouth. He reached for the bottle of rum and washed them down his throat. “Woo!” he cringed while shaking his head. “That’s rough.”
He set the liquor bottle back on the counter and turned on the faucet, splashing cold water on his dry face. His cellular phone rattled on the end table in his room, but he shut the door to ignore the call.
“I am currently too inebriated to take your call. Please leave me the hell alone,” he said, flipping over the knob in the shower to hot.
* * *
Aaron sat on the side of his bed after his shower with a white towel wrapped around his waist. He cupped his palms and relaxed his head in them pressing his elbows against his knees. He reached for his phone on the end table and saw the name Abigail scroll down his missed calls list six times.
“Nah, I’m not ready to call her back yet.” He tossed the phone to the foot of the bed and laid down.
THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
He shot back up and tensed his posture when he heard the heels outside on the aft. He ran to the cabin door and locked it.
“I know you’re down there, Aaron!” Abigail yelled from the top of the stairs. He heard her stomp down the stairs clapping her heels on the wood like a horse’s hooves. The door rattled and she wrapped her fist against the wood with rage. “Open this door! Where the hell were you last night?”
“Shit!” he mouthed in silence. The towel fell from his waist as he ran to the dresser to find a pair of red swim trunks and white tank top. He quickly slipped the clothes on and dug into his top drawer, where he tossed balled up white and black socks onto the floor. “Just wait at the top of the stairs, Abi! I’ll be out in a minute!”
“Wait? Wait! You want me to wait? That’s just perfect. Two years, Aaron, and you still tell me to wait on your sorry ass! If you respected me, you would at least give me a courteous phone call telling me you weren’t going to show up last night.”
Aaron shook his head and pulled the black box from inside the sock drawer. The suede texture was soft against his fingertips as he flipped it open to find his mother’s wedding ring nestled in the crease of the fabric inside.
“Please save me,” he said, snapping the lid shut. He turned his head to the porthole, where Abigail’s face was peering into the cabin. “What the-?” Aaron gasped, falling back to the floor.
“I see you, Aaron! Open the door now and face me like a man!”
“Okay, I’ll meet you at the top of the stairs,” he said annoyed. He shook his head and walked over to the door, when he face disappeared from the window. He jammed the black box into his pocket and opened the door to meet her on the aft.
When he reached the top of the stairs, Abigail had her hands clenched to her hips like a boiling tea kettle. He watched her tap her toe with a menacingly constant beat. Her narrow jade eyes and tensed cheeks intimidated him.
“Abi, I can explain,” he said with his arms raised and palms out in front of him.
“Where is she?” She glared at him with contempt.
“What are you talking about?” Aaron walked to her with a sly grin. “How can you even think that? I mean… I’m appalled!” He stumbled with his words as he walked to her, but she pushed passed him and marched down the stairs. He chased after her but could not help but admire her black work attire that hugged against her curves tastefully. He slid down the rail of the stairs and entered the cabin behind her. “Now, Abi, you know this isn’t healthy. A strong relationship is built on trust. Accusing me of….”
Abigail whirled around with her arm outstretched stopping Aaron from flapping his lips. “Don’t talk to me about healthy relationships, Aaron. I’m not in the mood for you back peddling so that the tramp you were with last night can escape.”
“Oh really? A tramp? Do you really think I’d open the door for you if another woman were here?”
She marched to the bathroom and slammed the door open. She came out with the half consumed bottle of rum. Captain Morgan’s grin sickened Aaron as he rolled his eyes and ripped it from her hands.
“So this is what you were doing last night?”
She stepped on an aluminum can and heard it crunch beneath her heel. She fell forward into Aaron’s arms. He smelled the fragrance of her melon shampoo enter his nostrils. His free hand grazed the curve of her hip which flooded fantasies of sex with her in his bed. She pushed him back and peeled the dirty clothes from the floor to discover a smashed beer can on the floor.
“I swear, I only had a few last night. The rest of those were from other nights,” he lied. He slicked back his hair with irritation. Glancing towards the bed, another surprise made his heart sink into his belly. A pair of red laced panties poked out from underneath his pillow.
“I thought you were over this stage of your life. You even went to rehab.” She dropped her arms letting the can bounce across the floor. “What did you tell me? Two years since your last drop?”
Aaron shrugged without a word from his mouth.
“I’m tired of all the excuses, Aaron.” She whipped her hair back and wandered to the porthole where the sun was peeking through. “You told me when we met that you wanted to stop. You wanted to build a better future for us. Now you’re starting again?”
Aaron rolled over the bed, while she looked away, and shoved the panties in the crevice between the headboard and mattress.
“You said that you wanted me to be sober. You even tricked me into thinking I was the reason you wanted to change.” She turned to Aaron with widened and moist eyes. “Has it all been a lie?”
“You’re making this out to be more than it is, baby,” he answered, reaching for her hands. She rejected him quickly pulling her hands away.
“Never call me baby again. I am no one’s baby.” She trembled with rage. “You can keep drinking if that’s what brings you closure, but I can’t be a part of this anymore. It’s not worth the pain anymore.”
“I’m overloaded with work, Abi. I don’t know what to tell you!”
“Ha! Overloaded with work? You sit in a damn boat all day and watch fish. If that makes you turn to drinking, you really have no control at all.” She rolled her eyes and walked passed him.
Aaron stood in the cabin alone, circling his room with guilt. “Wait, don’t go!” he yelled, chasing after her. He gently grabbed her wrist at the top of the stairs.
“Leave me alone!” She whipped her hand back and ran across the aft to escape Aaron’s attempts to mend what is already broken.
“Abigail Marie Thomas, will you marry me?” His hands trembled as he pulled the black box from his swim trunks. He flipped back the lid and the diamond sparkled in the sunlight.
Abigail lowered her head and glanced over her shoulder at Aaron. She hesitantly walked back to him.
“Are you serious?”
The diamond left her breathless as he slid it onto her ring finger. It was a perfect fit. A tear streamed down her cheek and dropped from her chin. She twisted her hand mesmerized by the beauty of the rock. She pulled it off of her finger though and placed it back into the box.
“I can’t say yes this way, Aaron.”
Aaron heard a woman’s hum echo from the wharf as they stood their alone. Abigail looked over to the ramp and saw a young woman with curled blond hair hop onto the boat. Aaron glanced at the woman’s white bikini top pressing against her breasts and her ripped jean shorts which came down mid-thigh. He closed his eyes knowing he lost Abigail.
“Oh, I hope I’m not interrupting,” she said, startled to see Abigail glaring at her.
Abigail shook her head and pushed the woman out of her way. Aaron dropped his arms and walked to the rail to watch Abigail storm up the wharf back to the parking lot. He crossed his arms over the rail and tucked his head down, pressing his forehead against the chipped wood.
“What was that about?” the woman asked.
He lifted his head up and stared at the black box. He shoved it into his pocket and looked at his assistant.
“It’s fine, Sandy, you probably just saved me from a lifetime of frustration.” He walked to the stairs to his cabin. “C’mon, let’s get out to sea. We have a long day ahead of us.”
He entered his cabin, where he pulled open the sock drawer and shoved the box back in. The bottle of rum rolled into the heel of his foot as a wave lifted the boat. He picked up the bottle, returning it to the counter in the bathroom. His palms pressed against the sink as he watched the disappointment pull from his eyes. Captain Morgan remained joyful with his charming smile like a serpent tempting him to have a sip. He wrapped his fingers around the handle and stared into the mirror.
“Fuck it,” he said, tilting the lip of the bottle against his mouth. The liquor burned as it flowed down his esophagus. He wiped his lips with his naked arm, but the heartbreak faded as the drunken spell grasped him once again.