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A Spring Fling Kinda Thing


Megan Lisay

Katelyn Arsenault stood outside her room on the balcony, looking out at the water. The day was bright and gloriously sunny, reflecting her own emotions. It felt so good to be back aboard the ship she fondly held in her memories. A young woman of 26, she knew the last ten years had been the most trying, infuriating, exciting, and joyous years she would ever experience. Everything that had happened was either fate or coincidence; Kate chose not to dwell on it. To think it had started with what was supposed to be a relaxing family vacation! The memories always came rushing back in reflective moments such as this. Now that she knew the ending to the tale, she freely allowed her mind to reminisce...

“Who exactly planned this flight, anyway?” Kate grumpily asked herself while glaring at the clock. The glowing digital numbers read 2:34 AM. The buzzer sounded for what felt like the 76th time. “Alright, alright, I’m up, I’m up!” And with that, Kate dragged herself out of bed and towards the stairs.

Twelve donuts, four long lines, and 16 hours later, Kate found herself and her family on the luxurious Norwegian Dawn, the newest in the elegant cruise line’s fleet. The luggage hadn’t arrived at the room yet, so there was nothing left to do but begin relaxing and enjoying themselves.

“Hey Kate, wait up!” someone shouted from behind.

“Laura! You found us! What room are you guys in?” Kate shouted back while running over to greet her younger friend.

“We’re down on deck 5. Did your family just get here?”

“Sort of; we stood in that sad excuse of a line system for hours. Where’s your brother? Shaun can’t wait to see him.”

“He’s around here somewhere,” Laura shrugged.

“Come on; let’s go up to the pool deck. They’re supposed to be having some kind of going away party.” A group called The Ironics was playing by the pool. Some of the crew members were leading the various dances and teaching the steps to those who didn’t know them. Kate and Laura were the only nuts who managed to keep up with them through almost all of the songs. By the time the suitcases came, Kate was more than ready for a swim. Laura, Kate, and Emma, an 11 year old girl Laura had befriended earlier that day, spent several blissful hours going back and forth between the refreshing oasis pools and the hotter than hot Jacuzzis.

The food at dinner was excellent. ‘If there’s one material thing I’ll miss next week, it’s the fresh fruit.’ Kate thought. Because Laura was only 12 and Kate was 16, Kate was the only one old enough to fit into the teen age group. Laura was, unfortunately, stuck in the 10 to 12 age group. The various kid and teen programs were to begin with an orientation meeting later that night. Kate resigned herself to going. ‘I have to. I want to. Besides, Jennifer’s not here, nor is Lyn. I don’t need their approval for anything. How hard could it be? Alright: cheerful, outgoing, pleasant, and fun. I can manage that.’

A woman with blonde hair in a white uniform introduced herself as Julie, the counselor for the 13-17 age group. “You guys are old enough to know what you want to do; I’m just here to give you ideas. Come on; let’s move closer together and say who we are, where we’re from, and what we like doing.”

Though the cold chairs were plentiful, there were only three small couches. Kate found herself wedged between more than just a few people. It turned out that Kayla, Danielle, and Erin were cousins from Canada. Steve and Bobby were brothers from Nashua, New Hampshire, and could not be more different if they weren’t related at all. Katie was from Goffstown, New Hampshire, Justin and Trevor were neighbors from a small island off Massachusetts, Marcus was from Detroit, and Davin was from somewhere in Maine. The circle came to Kate. She took a deep breathe and tried to relax.

“Hey, I’m Kate. I’m from Hudson, New Hampshire, and I like reading, soccer, cheerleading, and my computer.” ‘That wasn’t so hard.’

With introductions finished, it was decided to play a partner mind game called Psyche 101 which involved answering random questions, then finding out how they link to your personality.

Once that was finished, Julie asked if they wanted to watch a movie. It was decided that no one really wanted to do something so mundane when they’d rather get to know each other better. It was soon close to midnight. 

“Hey, guys, I’ll be back in maybe ten minutes, I have to check in with my dad to let him know where I’ll be. He’s a bit of a stickler like that…he’s got this huge ‘you could be kidnapped, murdered, or worse!’ thing going on.” Kate told the group, who was contemplating going up to the sundeck to talk and look at the stars. A few guys voiced complaints at the idea.

“Why would you want to look at the stars? You can do that at home.” Trevor asked irritably.

“No we can’t, the stars aren’t nearly as bright as here. You don’t see them like that up north.” The conversation was ended.

Kate came back soon enough. “He wasn’t there. I don’t understand parents. They tell you to check in with them, then disappear on you. I’ll probably be blamed for it, too!”

Steve wanted to get a drink and Kate thought she might as well check in the Spinnaker lounge, where her dad said he’d be until maybe 11:30. Perhaps he just didn’t know what time it was. So they started walking towards the elevator together. On the way, they ran into a guy with gelled curly dark brown hair, melted-chocolate eyes, and a definite athletic build.

“Hey, I’m Kate, and this is Steve.” She flashed him a bright smile. Since entering the boat, Kate felt none of her usual reserve toward new people. Looking back, she’d probably say she’d actually been more outgoing and social than was thought to be in her nature.

“Hey, nice to meet you, I’m Chad.” He had a warm and cheerful but deep, resounding voice.

“Cool, where are you from?”

“Utah, how about you?”

“New Hampshire. If you ever feel like going numb in a matter of minutes, come visit us next February.”

Chad laughed. “We barely ever have snow. I heard you people up north got stuck with around 3 feet.”

“Yup, and that’s 3 feet too many.” Kate grinned. Their eyes met. Kate couldn’t say why, but there was something about this young man that made her feel intrigued and she suddenly had an urge to find out more about him. ‘I think I like this guy…’

“How old are you? I’m 17.” Chad asked.

Kate answered 16, and Steve said 17. The elevator arrived and Kate and Steve moved towards it. Chad followed. “Where are we headed, anyway?”

“I’m going to get a drink, and Kate’s going to see if she can find her dad in this maze.” Steve was finally able to get more than one word in. “Everyone else is up on the sundeck fixated with their stars.”

“Stars are a good thing to be fixated on.” Kate argued. She turned back to Chad. “We found the Orion constellation, but that’s about the best any of us could do. I thought it was pretty cool. Up north, I guess we’re not at the right angle to see them too well.” The elevator stopped and they headed down the hall toward Spinnaker’s.

“KATELYN THERESA, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?” Everyone turned to see Kate’s father walking quickly towards them with an angry scowl on his face.

Nervously, Kate answered. “I tried to find you. I went back to the room and you weren’t there. I was just on my way to check again. And I was just about to go look in the Spinnaker Lounge, too!” Her voice became indignant and defensive. “How am I supposed to tell you where I’ll be if you aren’t where you say you’ll be?” Kate was in fact guilty that her dad had been so worried, because she could tell he had been. But at the same time, she also felt she had done her best to find him to tell him they were just going to sit on the deck. It simply wasn’t fair, since she knew the words “responsibility” and “maturity” were coming. He glared dangerously at her.

“Let’s go. Now!” In retrospect, it would’ve been easier if he yelled. That low, dangerous tone was about as scary as being slowly lowered into a pit of starved jaguars, seeing your life flash before your eyes and knowing you had no chance of getting out unscathed. ‘Mom would understand. Why can’t it be her walking around the boat instead of Mr. You’re My Baby And I Must Protect You With My Life?’

The next day, Kate’s family slept late. They ate breakfast quickly and, after much squabbling, Kate’s mom managed to get Shaun to put on sun block. It was decided (on a two against one basis) that Kate had tried to check in, and her dad should have been where she could find him if need be. ‘My mother ought to be up for sainthood for helping me like that,’ Kate thought, painfully realizing just how much she owed her mom for understanding she did try to check in.

Still, Kate now had to carry around a walkie-talkie whenever she was separated from her parents. ‘I suppose it’s not so bad…’ Later that day, while sitting in the kiddy pool watching her brother, Kate looked up to see Chad, Justin, and a few of the others walking towards her.

“Hey Kate, where’ve you been, we checked half the boat looking for you!” Chad called out.

“Kate, I heard your dad flipped out at you last night! Are you in trouble?” Justin asked, concerned.

“I think I’m all set, but, yeah, he was pretty mad. My mother is an angel.” Kate replied happily. Kate got permission to go with the others as long as she called and checked in whenever they went somewhere else. Around 1:00, it was discovered that the walkie-talkies didn’t work outside 100 feet. Luckily, her parents were still at the pool, so she brought the annoying toy back and got their permission to just go back to the room at 5 PM.

The newly formed clique quickly ran out of quarters in the arcade and wandered around. Somehow, in the past three hours, Chad had managed to conveniently place himself next to Kate as they walked. When she’d returned her walkie talkie to her parents, he’d come with her, telling the others they’d catch up later.

Kate and Chad met up with Justin, Steve, Bobby, Trevor, Katie, Meghan, and Danielle. He possessively put his arm around her waist when they stopped at the Topsiders Ice Cream Bar for something to drink. Kate had no objections to any of it whatsoever. ‘If he wants to waste his time, I’m not stopping him. I’m not quite sure why he would though...’ her thoughts were interrupted. The group was on the move again. They found a quiet nook in between the entrance to the Fitness Center and the Garden Café.

“Dude! This place rocks! There’s no one here, and there’s a complete wall of glass!” The place was almost immediately designated as “our spot” by Chad and Justin. Anyone even halfway paying attention could tell Chad and Kate were quickly becoming more than a little close. The group spent an hour or so there and talked about everything from books to music to school to movies.

“So, do you do any sports?” Kayla started.

Justin laughed. “The high school on Nantucket has very few teams, since it requires a ferry trip to go anywhere.”

Chad had a better answer. “You are looking at a member of my high school’s Varsity Football team,” he stated smugly.

“Well, it’s not Varsity, but I am a cheerleader.” Kate replied in a fairly modest tone. “More like a ‘let’s just have fun’ type league. And definitely not as much skin showing.” This got a laugh from everyone present.

“Sometime this week, we have to play a game of football on the beach.” Justin wasn’t content with throwing the lethal object around the room for long. Chad and Steve heartily agreed. Steve thought it would be fine to play there in the hallway.

“Go long!” he told Justin with a grin. Unfortunately, within fifteen minutes, Kate and Danielle had to stop them.

“I really don’t think nearly attacking a poor little old lady with a football is the best of ideas.” Kate decided. Soon, Kate was situated on Chad’s lap with his arm around her waist while the two recited lines from remembered Romeo and Juliet scenes. During the soliloquy of Juliet on the balcony, Chad played with Kate’s hair and tickled her until she turned around and tickled him right back. The others giggled at their antics and stopped talking. Steve and Bobby had to go dress for dinner as their parents had made an early reservation in one of the restaurants. A scavenger hunt was started by Julie around three. Kate, Chad, Justin, Trevor, and Davin were on one team, the others made up the second. They quickly scanned the list. Kate grinned.

“I know where we can find our picture of a penguin! What room is Steve in? We can use that tie he had last night with the penguin on it!”

Chad gleefully announced that one of the items was “a lipstick kiss mark on the cheek of one of your team members from a member of your team.”

“Hey! I’m the only female here!” Kate stated. At first, she was rather indignant, but a smile crossed her face just the same.

“I know,” Chad told her. He quickly put his arm around her waist and glared at the other guys. “I think Kate and I can handle that one; you just worry about finding that 1992 penny!”

They got their 22 items just in time and each received free drink coupons from Julie. Chad got his chaste lipstick kiss. That night, everyone met up in the theater to see The Music of the Night being performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Chad was late.

“Where is he?” Kate asked Justin for what had to have been the fourth time.

“I don’t know. He told me he’d be here, and I’m not sure it was for the show.” He winked at her. Justin and Kate made a point of saving a seat on Kate’s left.

“I’m here, I’m here!” They turned around to see Chad, slightly out of breath, moving slowly through the throng of people towards them. “Sorry I’m late.”

Needless to say, Kate and Chad were separated only by the hard plastic armrest for the next hour and a half. The powerful music silenced the crowd and brought some to tears. Time stopped for the singers and dancers on stage. When the lights returned, Kate found it difficult to walk.

After the show, they spent about 5 minutes in the hot tubs before someone told them the pools and Jacuzzis just closed. It was decided to meet in the Karaoke place as soon as possible. Out of the warm water, Kate was visibly freezing, and the strong winds were not helping at all. Chad smiled. He took his towel and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“I’ll see you at Dazzles, okay?” he asked as he gently hugged her. They started walking towards the elevator.

“Sounds great,” Kate smiled happily.

Once at Dazzles, a good time was had by all. Chad and Kate danced a song or three. His strong arms wrapped around her waist and her head rested on his shoulder, her delicate fingers occasionally running playfully through his somewhat longer than considered normal hair. All too soon, it was time to part for the night.

Monday came, and the ship stopped in San Juan for the day. Kate and her father had planned to go on a horseback riding trip through the rainforest. The forest was alive with sights and sounds. At one point, the guide pointed out a five foot iguana sitting on a tree branch. ‘If I took a picture, you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway... but that thing is neat!’ Kate thought.

The hour long bus rides to and from the riding stables provided Kate with the time she needed to think. ‘What is he playing at, anyway? It couldn’t possibly last, whatever “it” is… We’re hundreds of miles apart! And anyway, why would he be interested in me?’ Kate and her long-time boyfriend had recently broken up, so her confidence when it came to men was somewhat less than perfect. ‘Well, I guess I’ll just see how it goes. A short romantic fling could be fun; a fond memory to look back on and I’ll be ready when Friday night comes. We won’t ever see each other again. And I still haven’t the faintest idea why he thinks spending the week with me is a good idea…’

After spending the day with her dad exploring the wild nature of Puerto Rico atop a very pleasantly gaited horse, Kate had dinner and saw a show with the rest of her family, then caught up with Chad, Justin, Steve, and everyone else in Spinnakers. That night’s choice of activity was playing various card games and listening to music. Somehow, the conversation turned back to school and the way things were done in their respective schools.

“We have this thing where our student IDs are like the room cards here,” Trevor was telling them. “You use it to sign in at the front door and you charge your lunches on it.” No one else could seem to top that. Everyone else had systems where the ID was just an annoyance one had to carry around. Silence closed in. Kate tried a new topic and voiced something she’d been thinking about earlier.

“You know, it seems to me, had we all been in one school together, we probably wouldn’t be friends or even fairly close acquaintances.” This seemed to be a confusing statement, though it had made perfect sense to Kate. The silence returned for a few moments, now filled with tension as Kate worried that perhaps she should’ve just kept that thought to herself.

“Why do you say that?” Chad asked her, trying to see where she was coming from without getting offended.

‘How does he not see it?’ “I just see it as most of us being in… differing social circles,” she replied, trying to sound confident in her theory.

Justin seemed annoyed. “You strike me as the type who has to be perfect, proper, and a parent’s definition of an angel.”

“Good guess. Normally, I’d tell you to get over it. For now, I’m not near my usual friends and have no expectations to deal with.”

Chad had had enough. “I disagree. Maybe you just don’t realize it, but I think you’re just afraid of being yourself near most people. So, when was the last time you guys played “Go Fish”?” He dealt the cards before anyone could protest at such a childish game that really never got old. She gave him a grateful smile, very glad he’d moved the conversation away from her. ‘I probably should’ve just kept my mouth shut, though…’

The mood seemed to have returned to cheerful and fun, even if Justin continued to look at her with annoyance that she should suggest such a thing. ‘Maybe he just doesn’t see it. But how could he not see that he and Chad are so obviously what I’m not? It had been recently discovered that anyone under 21 wasn’t allowed in any of the clubs after 11 PM, or they would have been in Dazzles at that moment. ‘Oops…’ Midnight was coming and Chad offered to walk Kate back to her room. He took her hand into his and gently squeezed it. Their fingers were intertwined as they walked down the hallways until they arrived at her room on Deck 8 (or what seemed like the middle of nowhere). Kate checked her watch.

“I guess I have to go in...” Kate made a face at the door.

Chad laughed. “My watch says it’s 5 of 12. You have a few minutes.” He grinned. “Just in case, though…you don’t want to be late or your dad might do that freak out again.”

It was Kate’s turn to laugh. “He’s just a big teddy bear inside and he’s sad his little girl doesn’t want to play dolls and tea with him anymore.” They spent a few more minutes talking before Kate checked her watch again. “Well, now I definitely have to go in.”

“Yeah, probably…” Chad closed the distance between them and gently kissed her. “Good night.”


Tuesday, the day the ship stopped on the Island of St. Thomas, was a bright and beautiful day. ‘Oh, it’s absolutely beautiful! I’d like to live here…’ Kate thought as she looked at the island she was about to reach. ‘On the other hand, this could hurt… where did Mom put that sun block?’

Kate’s family was going snorkeling on Coki Beach. The water was crystal clear, the sun was bright, and the sand was smooth. Millions and millions of tiny fishy faces greeted Kate as she put her face into the water. The further out the snorkeling group went, the bigger and more colorful the aquatic creatures became. ‘I love swimming. The cool water is relaxing and moving at the same instant. Calm, but constantly in motion. Always changing direction. It’s perfect!’

“Hey, I think that’s Justin…” Kate said to herself. “It is! Hey, Justin, what’s up?”

“Oh, hi, I was just on the scuba diving thing… over there” he pointed to a group of people carrying large air tanks, “How about you? Did your family do any of the shore excursion things?”

“Yup, snorkeling, but that’s over with. We’re staying on the beach and getting a taxi back later. Do you know what we’re doing tonight?”

“They’re having another show tonight, I know that much…”

“There’s a salsa dance class in Spinnakers at 8:45, and we could go to the 9:30 show right after it. That could work.”

“Salsa? As in, actually doing salsa dancing? You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. Why, what’s wrong with salsa?”

“Nothing… I just don’t know if Chadem’s gonna want to do that…” Justin shrugged. Kate surmised from his expression that he was still annoyed from her comments last night, but she intended to be friendlier towards him anyways.

“Well, you people can do what you want; I’ll go by myself if I have to. And where did “Chadem” come from?”

“Just a nickname… I’ve got to go or I’ll miss that bus… I’ll see you later.”

“See ya…”

As it turned out, Chad went to the 7:30 show and dinner with his parents, and was not seen until around quarter past ten. Kate and anyone who could be found listened to music in the dance/lounge club/room. At 8:45, Kate wanted to join the Salsa class. Everyone else preferred to sit and watch, too timid to try it, all thinking they’d look ridiculous if they took the risk.

“I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d go alone.” And she did. ‘If only the girls back home could see me now… I do not need them with me to do what I want. And heck, what was I afraid of anyway? Oh well, time’s limited…’ The lessons did indeed make her feel silly, but it was so much fun and worth any amount of humiliation in the eyes of people she’d never see again.

The end of the class came quickly, and Kate rushed down 5 flights of stairs into the theater for the show, only to realize she’d left her purse in the lounge. Ten hurried flights of stairs and quite a bit of physical exertion later, Kate made it back to her seat just as South Beach Rave began. The performance was alive and full of energy. It made the audience want to move and dance. This was just as well because a party was starting on the pool deck soon afterwards. Kate was overjoyed to find Chad outside the Spinnaker lounge and they walked hand-in-hand, not even having a firm idea of exactly where they were going.

Justin felt there was reason to comment on the two teen’s behavior. “You two act like a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, you know that, right?”

Kate just rolled her eyes and smirked. Chad playfully hit Justin in the shoulder and said: “Hey, you have no right to talk! When are you planning on putting the moves on Danielle? The clock is ticking…” Justin's  face turned a deep shade of cherry red. At this point, Kate had to laugh.

“You like Danielle then? Well, do something about it. Canada’s about as far away from Nantucket as Utah is from New Hampshire, so you have no excuse.”

Justin apparently turned this thought over in his head as they walked, since he made no further conversation about Kate and Chad. They ended up at the deck party. Or rather, Chad, Kate, Marcus and Justin did. A debate rose over whether Justin’s ukulele was rugged and manly or cute and adorable. Kate let the guys think they won… her own opinion was kept quiet. Marcus and Justin decided they’d go see if they could find where everyone else went off to.

“Wanna dance?” Chad whispered in Kate’s ear.

“Love to.”

A fast-paced song had started, and the couple began to whirl and gyrate in the sea of people having a good time. When they had both run out of breath, it was decided to find the others, see what they were doing, and then come back.

“We dance well together,” Chad grinned

“Yes, we do. That was a lot of fun!” Kate’s blue eyes were sparkling and she flashed him a bright smile.

“What time’s your curfew tonight?”

“Midnight, why?”

“Well, we should leave about 10 minutes early.” He winked at her.

“Why do you want to… oh. Right. That works too.” She replied as the realization dawned on her that he wanted more alone time with her… Her smile became sly and her face seemed to light up. After meeting up with the rest of the group, Kate, Kayla, Danielle, and the other girls hung out, while the guys did guy stuff, which, since they were being so loud about it, was talking about the girls.

Twenty minutes later, Chad and Kate were back on the dance floor. Once outside Kate’s room, their lips met in sweet synchrony. His warm hands were gentle as they caressed her cheek and supported her while she stood. Her smooth fingertips gripped his firm, muscled shoulders and ran through his hair. They stood together, each supporting the other. Inevitably, the clock ticked its way to 12 and it was time to go.

“I guess it’s that time again. I’ll see you tomorrow, though…”

“True. I look forward to it.” Kate smiled, slightly out of breath.

Chad appeared a little winded, as well. “Goodnight, Angel.” They shared one last kiss before she pulled out her key and slipped into the doorway. He walked a few steps, turned back and blew her a kiss. She smiled.

“Goodnight, good night, for parting is such sweet sorrow.”

He finished it for her. “That I shall say goodnight, ‘til it be morrow.” Once inside, she quickly gathered her night-things and shut the door to the bathroom. ‘I need to sit down.’ Her knees felt as though they’d give way any moment. ‘Wow. It is definitely not like me to be acting like this. Maybe I’m getting sick? No, that’s never made me go out of character. What is it about him?’

Kate thought back to only less than a month ago, back to her ex-boyfriend. She shuddered. ‘It’s because Chad makes me feel special. Like I’m attractive and fun to be around. Could he just be playing with me? Or is he for real? I don’t know. I guess I’ll just see how it plays out. Though it’d be a lot easier come Friday night if I didn’t like him so darn much…’ Kate let her thoughts simply trail off as she drifted back into the remembrance of the ebullition of his sweet and passionate kiss.

Wednesday dawned bright and early, not that anyone sleeping in the inside cabins could tell, seeing as they had no windows. The ship docked at Tortolla, and Kate’s family took a ferry over to the neighboring island of Virgin Gorda for a tour. The island was truly gorgeous and made for a great many photo opportunities. The beaches of the island were big fun for the kids playing in the waves, but not for the parents who feared their children would be swept into the undertow.

Kate and Laura found a cave with around 3 feet of water and no danger of waves. The water wasn’t as warm as on St. Thomas, but it was water and wasn’t anywhere near New England. The time allotted for swimming was far too short, but Kate felt she needed a couple of hours to rest before dinner anyway. Three days in a row of getting up early and going in late were catching up with her. Kate spent a few hours in the room hanging out with her brother while their parents went back out to Tortolla to see what was around.

After dinner, Kate found Justin and Katie and went with them to Spinnakers. Once there, they met up with Marcus, Chad, Steve, and Kayla. They took the group of couches by the door and the best spots were soon taken. The evening passed quickly. Everyone was talking and laughing, and, in general, having a good time.

Chad and Kate sat together, her in his arms, cuddling. He kissed her forehead and played with her long tresses of brown hair. Later on, Kate and Kayla laughed and shrieked as the guys attacked them with multiple ice cubes. The ice ended up down the shirts of everyone present.

At 9:30, Kate left to listen to a violinist named Dominique Ava who was giving a show onboard that night. No one else wanted to go; they opted for swimming. ‘Which is fine with me,’ Kate thought, ‘I’ve been around the same people since I got on the boat and not a single second of me-time.’ After the show, Kate found the group right where they said they’d be: in the water and soaking wet.

“Hey, there you are, did you like the show?” It was Justin, who’d seen Kate first.

“Yeah, it was nice; calming and peaceful. I enjoyed it a lot.” Kate’s smile was hidden by the dim lighting as she located Chad and Steve jumping off the side of the gazebo into the pool. “It’s a good thing that water’s deep; they could break their necks like that.” She gestured towards the two guys fooling around.

Justin laughed. “It’s fun; you should try it.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You’re no fun,” Justin grinned. He called Chad over and they talked quietly for a moment. Before Kate knew what was happening, they lifted her up and tossed her, clothes and all, into the pool! She came up sputtering and choking. The pool closed at 11, and everyone who went in had to change. Kayla and Kate chose to just put on their PJs and relax for the rest of the evening. The group made their way over to the dead end spot they’d found on Sunday. Someone brought a small cd player to listen to. It was a good night to just talk and relax after 3 hectic days of going all over the place.

As it was nearing midnight, Kate yawned and said: “I’m really not too tired; I think I’ll ask my dad if I can stay up ‘til 1:00 tonight.” She yawned again. “Okay, so maybe I’m a little tired, but that’s not the point…”

There was no answer at Kate’s room when she telephoned. Chad and Kate walked down to Kate’s floor to see if they could find her parents. They weren’t there, so they sat down outside her room and talked.

“So, what’s your favorite movie?” Kate asked, as a random question to start conversation.

“Alright, do you promise not to laugh?” Kate nodded. “I’m serious. You might laugh when I say it.”

“I won’t laugh. Tell me.” Kate promised sincerely.

Chad grinned. “I’d have to say Bambi is my favorite.” Now it was Kate’s turn to grin.

“Wow! I don’t know too many people who’d admit that. I guess I’m kind of tied between Bambi and The Lion King. Those two are my favorites. I used to have this stuffed animal of Bambi; I took it everywhere!”

“That’s cool. I used to have this Bert and Ernie toy, you know, from Sesame Street? They were my best friends for years. They went everywhere with me. Sometimes, they’d get so dirty, I’d have to have my mom wash them three times just so that they looked somewhere close to normal.”

Kate sensed it had taken a bit of bravery to tell her that. She moved closer to him and put her arms around him. They talked a while more before they stood up to stretch their legs a bit. Once standing, a repetition of the previous night ensued, pausing only to glare at Kayla as she walked down the hall, grinned knowingly at Chad and Kate, and let herself into her room, which turned out to be two down from Kate.

“It’s kind of strange; we came back here to ask if I could stay out ‘til 1:00, but it’s almost 1:00 now anyway…’ She reached up on her tiptoes to kiss him again. “You know what? I love your eyes. They’re kind of like…melted Hershey kisses…”

“I think your eyes are gorgeous. Blue like the water and just as deep…” Chad sighed. “I should probably go. It’s getting late,” Chad whispered.

Kate nodded. “Yeah, I guess. Goodnight.” He kissed her cheek, hugged her, and then reluctantly walked down the halls, finally disappearing from her view. It was fortunate they’d chosen that moment to part, as Kate’s parents returned not five minutes later.

Thursday was definitely a day to sleep in. Kate didn’t get up until 11 AM. When she did, the first thing she did after eating breakfast and doing everything else one does in the morning was go swimming. That day, Kate, Chad, Justin, Katie, and Steve went in the Jacuzzis, walked around the jogging track, shared drinks, played a team game called MATRIX that involved finding different phones all over the ship based on clues from Julie, and hung out in the little kids’ playroom for an hour or so when Julie said the room was free.

“Why exactly do the kids get a huge McDonald’s play thingy and a Play station?” Julie must’ve heard that question asked about three times by each teen. That evening was the last show to be performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Everyone in the teen age group had been told by Julie that this would be the best one, so everyone made sure they got there early to get good seats. And it was the best one; something exciting happened every moment. No one in the audience had time to blink. In the very first scene, an acrobat dropped down from the ceiling, swinging barely a dozen feet above the crowd. Kate was enthralled by the music and movements of the actors.

The cruise had been amazing. But not all of it was picture perfect. Kate was brought back to the present as a knock came at the door, demanding her attention from her past. Her mother came in, saying she needed to check with a few last minutes details for the next day’s plans. Katelyn was kept busy for the remainder of the day, but that evening, her thoughts returned to that first cruise when she was a mere sixteen years old.

After the show, everyone made their way up to the teen room to listen to music and hang out. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Julie got a game of “Freak of Nature” going, where different teams had to get points by doing strange and difficult things. The only downside to the evening, as far as Kate could see anyway, was that Chad didn’t walk her back to her room. ‘But that’s not a big deal…it’s not like I expected him to or anything…’ Inside, however, Kate was really wondering why he hadn’t. That night, she didn’t sleep as well. Friday would be the last day. As much as she had prepared herself and resigned her heart to accepting not seeing him again, she hadn’t known it would truly hurt to say goodbye. That it seemed he was distancing himself from her already hurt her more.

On Friday, the ship stopped at their private, miniature island off Florida. Kate spent a few hours with her and Laura’s family. They rented a giant float and had their dads drag them around in the water. After lunch, Kate found Katie, who was waiting for Chad and Justin to finish up in the restrooms. All afternoon, the four plus a few others hung out in the shade, playing with the leaves from a couple of palm trees and more than a few cups of ice from the refreshment stands.

Although the atmosphere seemed casual and relaxed, Kate felt something was wrong. ‘Maybe it’s just me, I’m not sure, but it feels like he’s ignoring me. He won’t look at me in the eye, and he’s barely said more than two sentences directly to me all day…’

At the end of the beach day, Julie arranged for whoever could come to meet for dinner at one of the fancier restaurants. Those who could come ended up being Julie, Katie, Chad, Justin, Kate, Trevor, and Davin. Dinner conversation was fun and humorous. Everyone had a good laugh when Chad announced his parents had made him take a class in dining etiquette and dared Justin to try to figure out which utensil was for what. Kate’s fears seemed to be dispersed when Chad took her hand under the table and gently squeezed it. His eyes met hers and he smiled.

After dinner, everyone had to go back to their rooms to pack. After that night, they probably would never see each other again. They all agreed to meet at 10 and use what time they had. When Kate finished, she looked at the clock. ‘I have about 10 minutes. Oh, shoot, where were we supposed to meet up? I can’t remember if we’d said the teen room or the pool… I’ll call Chad; he’s probably still in his room…’

“Hey, Chad?”

“Oh, Kate, hey, what’s up?” Chad’s voice answered back. Kate heard Justin and Trevor’s voices in the background.

“Do you know where we’re supposed to meet? Somehow, it just slipped my mind, and I have no idea…”

“Yeah, in the teen room at 10. I’m not done packing, though, so I’ll be a little later.

“Okay, I’ll see you then.”

“Look, um, Kate?”


“It’s a cruise and it’s over.” The line went dead.

‘What the Hell did he just say?’ Kate sat on her bed for a few moments, thinking. First she was shocked. Then annoyed. Anger set in. And finally, hurt. She first called Kayla, who listened to what happen and sympathetically told her maybe Chad had realized it was the last night and freaked about it. It didn’t help Kate at all. She marched down to Chad’s room and knocked rather loudly on the door.

Justin opened the door, took one look at Kate, turned around and said: “Dude, I told you she’d be upset…”

“Chad?” Kate demanded.

“Yes?” came an attempted unafraid yet oh-so-nervous reply.

“Come here. Now!” Chad slowly made his way over to her and shut the door behind him. She began to speak in a low and dangerous voice. Not one bit of her was nervous. She didn’t care at this point if she ended up looking the fool. “Hey, buddy, I’m aware that it’s a cruise, and I’m also aware that we won’t see each other again after tonight. I think it’s pretty darn low of you to think I’d expect something long term from you. We’re over 500 miles apart. Just how naïve and immature do you think I am? You know what? I don’t even care. I’m going to hang out with the others, and you, Mr. It’s-a-cruise, can go live under a rock!”

It was a stupid and immature ending to her point, but it made her feel better. And with that, Kate turned on her heel and headed to the teen room. She quickly jogged up 6 flights of stairs to the teen room. The room was mostly empty except for Melissa, who hadn’t really become part of the group until the previous night. Kate and Melissa talked for about a half an hour. They chatted and laughed. Kate felt better about Chad, almost didn’t even care. It wasn’t really until then that Kate felt she’d found a friend on the boat. Kayla and Kate just didn’t quite… click. Julie came in and the story of what happened with Kate and Chad was brought up again. 

“I know trying to have an online relationship would never work. I knew in the beginning it wouldn’t be anything long term. But did he have to say that? Does he really think I’m that… that…” Kate stuttered, looking for the right words. Her original adjectives were all that seemed to fit. “Naïve and immature?” she finished. “That’s what really hurts, I guess…”

“Maybe you two just need to talk about it… did either of you say anything to suggest you wanted something more?” Julie was sympathetic, but not putting blame on anyone.

‘It’s almost what Kayla said; maybe I just had to hear it from Julie…’ Kate thought.

“No, not that I know of… maybe we just need to talk; I don’t know…” About 5 minutes later, Chad came in and began talking to Julie. When it looked like they were done, Kate got up and moved a little closer.

Julie came over to where Kate was standing and said: “I was just having a chat with your little boyfriend. He just came up to me and said, “Julie, I really messed up, what do I do?” and I suggested he talk to you and tell you what he meant when he said what he did.”

At that moment, Chad came up behind Kate. She turned around slowly and looked him in the eye. 

“We need to talk. Come downstairs with me for a minute.”

Kate nodded and followed him out the door. When they sat down, in their place, as it had been for the past week, by a window overlooking the water, he took her hand and began talking quietly. “What I said on the phone, I didn’t mean to say that. It kind of just came out that way. I realized, while I was packing, just how far away we’d be by tomorrow night. I guess I freaked. This week with you has been wonderful, but I’ve tried the long distance relationship thing before. I know it doesn’t work.”

Kate squeezed his hand. “I knew from the beginning anything long term was out of the question. What really hurt about what you said was that, well, you’d think I’d expect some kind of commitment. I’m not stupid. I know just how far those miles go, and e-mail, I don’t think e-mail’s good enough.”

“I probably should’ve figured you were smarter than to cling to a hopeless idea. In all honesty, I really wasn’t single all that long before I met you.”

A flicker of a smile appeared on Kate’s face. “Does it beat barely a day and a half?”

Chad’s eyebrows rose. “No, more like three or four days. Anyway, I came on this cruise thinking, okay, I’m just going to relax and have fun. Then I met you. It was like… there was some kind of spark in you… something about you… at first, it reminded me of my old girlfriend, then I realized just how different you are from her, and all I could think about was finding out more about you and being with you.” Chad grew silent.

“Well, since we’ve agreed the long distance thing is out of the question, why not just have fun and enjoy the two hours we have? Make the most of it?” Kate smiled and leaned in to hug him.

“Hey, your hair’s all wet!” Chad laughed.

“Oh yeah, I completely forgot! There’s this big thunderstorm outside right now. You should see it; when the lightning flashes, the whole sky gets bright. It’s amazing. Come on, let’s tell the others where we’re going and I’ll take you out there.”

“Sure, so long as I don’t actually have to listen to the thunder… that I don’t like one bit!”



“I just want to make sure, you know, that we keep in touch, okay? I’ll e-mail you all the time, and when I get my driver’s license, a bunch of friends and I going to see the whole country. I’ll come see you.”

“I’d like that a lot.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too, but we’ll see each other again. You can count on it.” They shared a tender embrace, and then went to rejoin their friends, not knowing or caring what would happen before they met up again. Because they would. There was no doubt of that.

Back up in the teen room, Kayla excitedly reported that Kate and Chad had made up.

“What were you doing, spying on them?” Justin asked, half annoyed, half relieved.

“Yes. I had to make sure she didn’t kill him. She was more upset than she let us know,” she replied.

“How would you know that?” Steve wanted to know.

“It’s a girl thing, right, Katie?”

“Oh, so both of you were down there? Okay ladies, details!” Steve demanded. Justin and Steve were excitedly grinning when Chad marched into the room with Kate in his arms, laughing.

Justin let out a loud yell and clapped. Justin then grabbed his camera and snapped a picture before anyone could move. He shouted with glee: “The honeymoon is back on!” Everyone laughed.

Kate laughed to herself, remembering Justin’s quirky comparison to her and Chad as a newlywed couple. She held the memories with her as she walked with her father to the elegantly decorated room at the end of the great ship. As they walked, she thought of the many special moments during the cruise.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Chad.”

‘The scavenger hunt.’

‘Closely dancing at the Karaoke Club.’

‘His gentle kiss and the romantic way he’d said Goodnight.’

“Goodnight, goodnight, for parting is such sweet sorrow!”

“That I shall say goodnight, 'til it be morrow!”

‘The water fight by the pool.’

‘The kid’s playroom.’

“Hey! Your hair’s all wet!”

Kate and her father reached the long, beautiful room, but Kate barely saw those she passed by as she made her way towards Chad. And so it began. “By the power vested in me, we are gathered here today to join Katelyn Arsenault and Chad Milner in Holy Matrimony.”

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