Postcard prose - Issue 16 | October 2012

Mary’s Cruise

by Dan Nielsen

The discount tickets were a wedding present from her parents. When the engagement ended badly, Mary exchanged them for one first-class. 

A waiter named Carlos folded Mary’s napkin into a hat, put it on his head at a rakish angle, and did a suggestive dance. He then removed the napkin from his head and transformed it into a flower. He bowed and gave the napkin/flower back to Mary, the only woman without an escort at a table of middle-aged couples. Am I supposed to use this now? Mary asked.
Tim was the cruise comic. After his set, he sat beside to Mary at the bar. He told her about his Letterman appearance, a Stupid Humans Trick involving three miniature Frisbees.
I guess I missed that one, Mary said.
I have it on tape. If you want, we can watch it later in my compartment.
No thanks, Mary said.

Mary lay awake for hours. Finally, she dressed and went up on deck. She was completely alone. The moon was full, but fading, as a false dawn colored the horizon pink and violet. At a table with a linen tablecloth and an assortment of freshly baked rolls, Mary poured coffee, adding real cream and sugar. She chose a roll and broke it open. It was warm inside. The butter melted and pooled. 


About the author

Dan, like everyone, has recent publications, but for a change he’ll mention one oddity from his past—The Random House Treasury of Light Verse—where he shares a page with William Carlos Williams and John Updike. The story of how that happened is too long to include here.

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