"Do you get my drift?"
She almost laughed aloud at that one.
"Yes, I understand what you are saying."
"Do you? Do you really understand?"
"No, not really."
He was exasperated now.
"Well why did you say that you do then? Why say that you understand me when you don't?"
"To shut you up you stupid little man. That's all, to shut you up. You drone on and on and I haven't a bloody clue what you are on about and as though it's not bad enough under normal circumstances." Her voice had risen until she was yelling.
"Here we are stuck with each other and with no means of escape and no bloody murder weapons." It had been a joke but as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she caught herself up shortly with a gasp.
"Well really Helen," he sounded wounded and irritated "You do say the most hurtful things. Do keep your voice down, it's so unladylike to shout so."
This time she did fling her head back and scream with a cocktail of one part delirium, two parts laughter and three parts hysteria. She nearly over-balanced them, and Derek's shocked face only made her laugh all the louder.
"Helen I meant what I said. If we ever get out of this," he flung his arm wide to needlessly illustrate their predicament "I want us to try and pull our marriage back on track. It's got out of hand lately and I realise we have both been working very hard, but the more we work, the less we work together. This holiday was supposed to be the start of us sorting things out, and now look at the state we're in."
Helen, with tears still rolling squeezing themselves out of the corner of her eyes and stinging her sunburned cheeks, rolled an imaginary tie into a herring mop under her chin.
"Well Stanley, that's another fine mess you've got us into."
"Helen please, be serious."
Serious, she thought, serious! They were never anything but serious. Twenty six years she had been shackled in holy matrimony to this man, and for the last twenty two she hadn't been able to stand the sight of him. She bore it year in, year out for the kid's sake. That worn and tired old excuse for staying somewhere secure rather than go it alone. And then when the kid's had left one by deserting one, she had always been waiting for the right moment. It never seemed to come.
Now, now stuck here on this ridiculous bloody rubber dingy burned to hell, and seething mad with his stupidity she knew that once she hit terra firma she wouldn't be able to stand another moment in his company. She had never before felt the sun burning down so fiercely on her head. She had never before coldly admitted to herself that he was money, and money was everything. But she admitted it to herself now.
'Don't go too far out' the man said. She hadn't wanted to go out on the ridiculous tourist raft thing, and certainly not alone with him, but that was his idea of fun, and he wouldn't hear the end of it until she agreed. She only closed her eyes for five minutes. His company had that effect on her. How was she to know that he had laid the oars down and had gone to sleep as well? Now here they were cast adrift in the middle of the mediterbloodyrainean sea waiting to be rescued and burning like skinned rabbits on a skewer.
The sea spread like an endless tablecloth in every direction. The horizon shimmered as it clashed boldly and severely, in torment with the sky. There was no rescue boat anywhere in sight yet, no helicopter. And as far as she was aware no bloody rescue submarine.
"Take your life jacket off and have a sleep dear, I'll look out for anyone coming. After all I couldn't possibly entrust you with a job like that could I? It was you that got us in this bloody predicament in the first place." In her scathing sarcasm, she failed to reason that she had been the first one to fall asleep.
She watched keenly as he struggled out of the tight fitting life jacket.
"Don't wobble the boat will you dear, you know I can't swim."
Ten minutes later he was snoring like a bulldog. How she hated that snore. How many nights had she lain awake listening to him, unable to sleep and trying desperately to keep a safe distance between her silk night-dress and his sweaty body?
It was so easy, he didn't even try to resist. He was already in the water and spluttering for his life when he woke up. She had the oars in her hands and was pulling hard on them when his bright red, bald scalp broke the surface for the first time. She'd never rowed before in her life, but the adrenaline buzz gave her the strength of Neptune as she oared the inflatable out of his reach.
He took longer to drown than she'd anticipated. Several times he went under. After a few seconds the turbulent disturbance his body created would still, and the water would be millpond calm, but then he'd appear making her jump out of her skin, thrashing and screaming at her to help him. She looked nervously around to see if help was at hand. And then safe in her crime she donned the 'mourning' widow
She didn't row for long. Just until she knew that she was nowhere near her husband's submerged body.
And then she drifted towards freedom.