In this world of arrivals and departures, there is a street of old shops. Past the used bookstore is a travel agency, the storefront decorated with faded posters, art deco visions of ships and trains. Romantic destinations, Paris, Corsica, Rome.Why do you hesitate? This has to be the place. The clipping in your hand confirms the correct address. The proprietor puts you at ease. He can only be described as a distinguished older gentleman. You inquire about the dream voyages. You mention the old honeymoon ship, the Lady Anne.
He suggests instead her sister ship, the Lady Grey. A retro cruise, and still a few places open. Yes, the same amenities.
You have your ticket. The Lady Grey leaves that afternoon. There are a number of young honeymoon couples, of course, but many older people, too. Some, like you, are traveling alone.
Here is your key. Down the corridor, your footsteps sink into plush carpet the color of moss. The stateroom is luxurious, period -perfect. You like the retro effect. You feel the crisp linen sheets, admire the mosaic tiles in the shower. Sunlight streams through the portholes.
On the upper deck, the honeymooners look out at the sea, clinging to each other. There is no horizon line, just an endless blue vista of sea and sky.
The first evening, everyone gathers in the dining room, dressed in formal outfits-- the men in black tuxedos, the women in fancy dresses. It's a scene from a more graceful, more elegant time. The room is filled with animated conversation, the clink of silver on fine china, rows of crystal glassware.
Surprisingly, you find the conversation easy, flowing like the sparkling wine in the glasses. What is this delightful vintage? The women are enchanting. The men are witty and artistic. They find you clever, too. Your jokes have never been so amusing.
The night sky is a sea of stars. In the moonlight, the old faces become softer, young again. The Lady Grey floats on a timeless now. Never departing, never arriving. Only the black waves around the ship, the white moon, moving.
First appeared in The Angry Hourglass, Round 22 ---- http://theangryhourglass.