Fifty-six years had been unkind to Carol’s body. Her face was weathered from the sun, and her skin bore liver spots she could not remember having in her youth. The lines beside her eyes tugged downward in a sad and deliberate sort of way, and when she smiled, her teeth were yellow from many years of coffee and tobacco.
She hadn’t always been this way. She married Sal when she was only nineteen. Thirty-seven long years later, she was boarding a plane from Cincinnati headed towards Detroit, while Sal basked in the sun down in Boca Raton. She absentmindedly twirled her wedding band between sandy, worn fingers.
He arrived suddenly and without warning, like a hurricane of wit and charm. His baseball cap was set high up above his brow, allowing the dim cabin lighting to dance across his twenty-something-year-old face. Around his neck was a worn silver piece in the shape of a cross, hanging haphazardly against his chest. Though it was merely fifty-seven degrees outside, he was dressed in green canvas shorts and ancient black flipflops, with only a thin white t-shirt to shield his torso. He glanced quickly around the snug interior of the tiny plane.
“I think I lucked out. I’ve got the window seat,” he said finally, addressing Carol with a smile.
Carol leaned forward impulsively to move into the aisleway, but she was stopped by the cool wave of a hand.
“I’ve got it. No need to move your pretty little feet,” he spoke brightly, surprising Carol with the lightness of his words.
Swiftly and with a grace Carol had never seen, he scooted over and past her, settling down into the faux-leather beside the window.
"Tell me about yourself," he said, twisting his body to face her. The smile he flashed was crooked and endearing, but the expression was honest and expectant. Carol chuckled aloud and as she opened her mouth to speak, she felt the deadness in her chest jumpstart to life.
(a little about Sal)
Sal was a good man. A little gruff, often unshaven and without social graces, but he was a good man nonetheless. Carol knew she had been lucky to find something so stable at such a young age. He had never made her heart race or head spin, and she had never experienced “butterflies” – whatever those were, anyway. But she knew that he would take care of her for all her life and that had been more than enough. She had married him on a Sunday in June, not six months after they had met.