She rowed while he brooded. Lifting an oar and splashing it through the water, Mary Beth wondered why she had ever agreed to this excursion on Placid Lake. A white swan glided by. Perhaps even the bird viewed her with disdain, what with its head held high in a haughty inclination.
The day was hot, yet cloudy, not a breeze to be had. The stillness made her stir-crazy. It was as if they were stuck in a jar and nothing existed beyond the waters on which the canoe floated. Just her and him in a capsule.
She splashed the oars again and the canoe budged a few inches. With her rowing, they would never get back.
"Can't you move any faster?" The expression of discontent on his face worsened. "I'd like to get back in time for supper."
"Bradford, I'm doing the best I can." She dipped the oars in again and pushed them through the water. Her arms ached from an afternoon of this torture. Her face and hands burned from sun exposure. She watched as he moved the rug under him to keep his sparkling white trousers dry. A glance to her frock revealed the full blossoming skirt was drenched from water splashed by the oars.
The damned swan came back again. She considered swatting it with the oar, but Brad would be outraged. So why not? So what if he got outraged? She took a hearty swing and sent the bird flying in a crazy cacophony of squeals and scattering feathers. It set Mary Beth roaring in laughter.
Brad bolted up in the boat in alarm, sending the canoe rocking side to side with water splashing in. Mary Beth held on for dear life as he lowered himself in slow motion to sit once again. Four inches of water now swished in the bottom of the boat, thanks to his raucous action.
"See what you've made me do? Now my feet will get wet!" He grunted and pulled the rug up under his trousers more to keep the seat dry.
Mary Beth studied the boat grime stains on her skirt. Skittles of black grit danced between the eyelets of its fancy lace trim. It was her favorite dress. She lifted her eyes to spy Brad's silly hat, a three-cornered preponderance popular at the time. Black and weighty, it must have been very warm to wear on such a stuffy day. She took the oar and with a deft motion swiped the hat off his head and sent it flying across the lake.
"My hat! Mary Beth, are you mad? Paddle over there so you can get it."
"No? Now look here! You're my wife. You'll do as I say!"
"No, I won't."
His face flushed a vibrant red as beads of sweat collected on his forehead mixing with leftover splashes from the dripping oar. He eyed the hat with worry.
"Mary Beth, that's my favorite hat. I demand you row us over there so you can fetch it before it sinks."
Mary Beth studied him, her eyes turning to stone. He waited, a stubborn expression steeling his face. She hated that look. It was childish, like a little boy about to hold his breath until he got what he wanted. That's all he was, a little boy. Why should she let a child push her around? With that cold rationalization, she raised the oar and aimed at his chest. With all her might she jabbed it at him, knocking the fellow helter-skelter, arms flying, until finally with a girlish scream he fell over the side of the canoe splashing into the water.
"MARY BETH!" he roared, his arms flapping.
"Brad, dear, while you're in the water...your hat...get it yourself!"
That said, Mary Beth rowed. She rowed as fast as she could to get away, until finally Bradford was just a dot in the water behind her. She left him there...for good, and do you know what? She never looked back.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski