Ruthy wrapped her cardigan around her, the wind whipping everything on the breezeway. She leaned against the railing of the boat, shivering, sighing.
Ruthy saw the churning waters and the blue horizon, and suddenly realized she was alone. Her husband was in the casino, her kids running around somewhere on the top deck. She had nothing to do. It made her feel uneasy, a little sneaky. Like cutting class in high school with her cousin.
Something strange uncoiled inside her, and she felt something. Like catching a scent that ignites a memory. For a brief second Ruthy remembered the thrill of opening the cold steel door, the wind whipping her cheeks as she ran across the parking lot, the sickening dread and exhilaration.
And then it was gone and she couldn’t conjure it up again. Maybe it was the wind.
A woman about her age and size tottered by, struggling against the wind. Ruthy looked at the woman’s thick ankles, her broad shorts. Being fat only bothered her every once in awhile. Most of the women she knew were fat. But every once in awhile, when getting out of the shower, when passing a magazine cover, or a flock of high school girls, or the disinterested look her husband gave her when she was changing, something shameful and heavy would grow in her heart, making a slow crawl to her stomach. A vague unease that she had failed in something very important.
She shook her head.
The ocean stretched on and she wanted to think it was beautiful but could not. She wondered if they had put the passports in the safe.
The door opened and she turned. A young woman walked out and the wind caught her short blonde hair, her pink sundress. Ruthy was glad her husband wasn’t around.
The woman walked to the railing and leaned against it. She was very young, very beautiful. Ruthy felt ashamed of her frizzy red hair, faded jean capri’s, her breasts and belly.
The wind slid the woman’s dress up small, brown thighs, plastered the fabric against her. She didn’t bother to push it down, just looked at the horizon.
Ruthy looked away, then around, guiltily. An old couple sitting on a bench were staring as well. The man was entranced, his wife looked disgusted. She caught Ruthy’s eye and glared at her. Ruthy looked down at her crocs, maybe it was her imagination.
She looked down the other side of the breezeway, away from the woman. Several people leaned against the bar, enjoying the wind, the water. Every woman wants to be on a boat, the wind fluttering her hair, a beautiful man whispering in her ear. Ruthy saw old women, fat men, Bermuda shorts instead of cocktail gowns, wrinkles. A terrible thing, she thought suddenly, that movies are only about beautiful people.
Ruthy wondered, in a slow, stumbling way, what it would be like to be beautiful. She glanced again at the woman, amazed at the difference in their existence. Ruthy couldn’t imagine another life, couldn’t imagine wearing a little dress, having men stare when she walked into a room. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all. Her strange mood, the strange whim of feeling turned into an almost overwhelming despair.
The woman sighed, and Ruthy realized that she looked sad.
Ruthy’s despair turned to disgust. What did she have to be upset about?
The woman finally turned and glanced at Ruthy. She saw the expression on her face and flushed, pushing her dress down. Ruthy changed her expression, tried to smile.
“The wind is so strong out here.” She mumbled in a light Spanish accent, shoving away from the railing.
Once again the anger, the sadness, dissipated like the memory from high school. Ruthy shook her head again, clearing it of strange thoughts and moods. She didn’t like looking at the ocean, maybe she didn’t like cruises. Ruthy went to check on the children.