It was Stef and Graf’s first trip as a married couple. They had decided not to take their honeymoon directly after the wedding two years ago in favor of getting a house and taking a bigger trip later. They had booked this spectacular cruise for themselves, equipped with everything a traveler could want. Total cost? 15,000 dollars. Luckily they had both had very promising and lucrative careers as marketing directors for one of the biggest firms in the country; and were able to save enough in a relatively short amount of time to make this trip less of a financial struggle. The only downside to this trip for them was they fact that they had to drive to their embarkation site. They had already spent so much money on the cruise, that they had decided not to fly New York to leave for the cruise but to drive and park instead. So, an 18 hour drive awaited them.
In Graf’s mind the trip was already a disaster. They had had a fight before leaving. Stef had become really irrational over something so small that even though I had happened an hour ago, he didn’t remember exactly what it was. Was it something he said?
For Stef, this trip was the chance to bring the spark back into their marriage. They had only been married for two years, and already she could feel them pulling away from each other. Stef had run through the laundry list of reasons why this could be? Had she let herself go? Did they stop trying? Was he seeing someone else? Did they no longer love each other? She had asked herself these and a million other questions, yet, none of these seemed to fit. She still felt herself very attractive. Sure, she’d gained some weight, but, in all the right places as her mother would say. And no, they tried every day to let each other know how much they love each other. An outside observer might even say their the most affectionate, verbally and physically, that they’ve seen. And Graf, well Graf was so busy at work and with work, that he couldn’t have possibly had enough time to see someone else. So what exactly was going on with their marriage?
Graf kept his foot heavy on the gas pedal. The sooner they made it to New York, the sooner this trip could start to be fun. He and Stef hadn’t spoken to each other since they left home, and it was starting to irritate him. He had already missed the sound of her nasally voice. Stef had always been teased about it, but he loved how she sounded. In no uncertain terms he had even said that the fact that he loves her voice was how he knew she was the one for him.
Stef sat staring listlessly out of the window. She could see the plethora of trees lining the highway, surrounded and infested with kudzu. In a way she thought it was beautiful; even though Kudzu was an invasive species where they live, Nature had found a way to make them work. Such was the way with her and Graf. Graf had been unlike any man she’d ever been with. He was sensitive. He wasn’t a braggart, nor a doormat. He never had any fear of doing the difficult thing, and bringing along others for the ride and he knew how to have a good time. Imagine her surprise when after the wedding he had pretty much turned into the cookie cutter of every other man she had been with. He stopped taking risks. He never let his emotions really show any more and the cacophony of “Let’s do its” she heard from him before the wedding became echoes of “maybe now’s not the right times”. It drove her mad, but she loved him still, because she knew the man he truly was, and this trip was going to bring it right out of him.
Two hours in and still not a word and been slipped between the both of them. Finally Graf could stand it no longer. “So,” he said, “you excited for us to finally take our honeymoon? It’s been two years in the making.”
“Definitely,” she responded. Her quick and concise answer gave way to little confidence within him. “Well, what’s the first thing you want to do?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered, “I’ll leave that up to you.” Graf rolled his hazel eyes. She knew he had always hated that answer as a response to a request for a suggestion. And in fact, she had known this so early on in their dating that Stef had always had an opinion. He enjoyed talking through these things with her; to have them compromising on little things, he thought, was to be able to have a successful marriage, and yet, here she was now, being irresolute in a choice. What was going on with her?
Stef didn’t want to talk. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts for a bit. Leave the talking for the cruise ship she told herself. After all, there would be plenty to talk about once they were isolated in the middle of the Atlantic. There, there would be no place for him to leave to when a difficult conversation arises, and arise it would if she had had anything to do with it.
Not wanting to attempt a failed conversation again, Graf turned on the radio. Heavy guitar riffs beamed through the speakers, and a melodic voice began to sound. The deep voice sang of love lost. Underlaid, behind the tone was a much higher voice. They worked perfectly together. As good as the song sounded, Graf felt this wasn’t the right time for a song like this. He turned the radio off.
They drove on in the deafening silence. Stef’s cry of pull over ended all that though. “What, why?” Graf inquired. “Just pull over,” she responded.
Graf did as he was requested. Stef hopped out of the car and quickly bent of over. She spewed chunks of clear vomit. She could hear Graf in the car asking her if she was okay and what was wrong. She knew, but she couldn’t tell him, at least not yet. She had to wait for the cruise.
Hour nine. And finally Graf felt tired enough to tell Stef that they either needed to switch or pull over for the night. “Honey?” he said. No response. He glanced over and saw that she was fast asleep. He pulled over and gently nudged her on the shoulder. She slowly awakened with a high pitched sigh. “Babe, what’s up,” she asked half asleep.
“I’m too tired to keep driving…wanna switch?”
“Sure babe,” she said. They hopped out of the car simultaneously and crossed the front of the vehicle. They both began to cross the front of the car, illuminated by the headlights and then Graf decided to do something drastic…well to him at least it felt drastic. He grabbed her by her waist and gently kissed her on the cheek.
“I love you so much honey. I’m not sure why we’re mad at each other, but whatever it is Stef, we can fix it.”
Stef didn’t know what to say. She wrapped her arms around him and looked into his eyes. Those bright hazel eyes that she had always loved. “I’m Pregnant.”
Graf didn’t know what to say; after all, they never wanted kids, or at least he didn’t and they had hashed all that out before marriage.
“Fuck,” was all he could say.