just one wish for the holidays. Peace. Not the world kind of peace. Inner
peace. Yuma needed to forget the divorce from a lifeless marriage, to find
herself once again. Wow, did that sound corny. But it was the truth, damn it.
Yuma sat at
the back of the tour bus and rested her forehead against the window, breathing
the cool outside air seeping in around the window seal, trying to avoid the
combined breath wafting from the gabby, fat couple in the seat in front of her.
It was obvious they’d recently enjoyed the local specialty, salsa rich with
cilantro and onions. A fish in an oxygen-deprived aquarium would have more
fresh air. Thick green foliage of trees, bushes, and vines whizzed by.
Setty, hadn’t cheered her on when she’d announced her vacation. Well-meaning-still-married
Setty told her that a trip to Cancun, Mexico, solo, was crazy, yet she hadn’t
tried to talk her out of her one-person holiday. In fact, Yuma thought her
sister envied her a bit, taking off by herself. It was romantic. There’s
romantic and there’s romance. Yuma had insisted reflection was her goal, not
romance. Setty had given her that oh-sure-whatever-you-say smile. It didn’t do
any good to argue with her sister who believed all the important things in life
like sex, kids, mowed lawns and a well-tuned auto required a man. She didn’t
need what Setty needed.
little romance came her way, a slight distraction from reflection, then that
would be fine.
slowed as it traveled along the main street of a small town. Franco, the tour
guide, gave a running commentary on village life in a Mexican town. Picking up
speed, moments later, they approached the entrance to the Mayan ruins of Tulum.
at the backs of the heads of her fellow tourists. And they came in twos; old
couples, young couples, a gay couple, and two elderly English ladies who kept
asking the guide personal questions and turning around to smile at Yuma every
few miles. The empty seat beside her became a neon sign announcing this woman in her forties is alone. Well,
she was just very twenty-first century traveling without a companion.
it would’ve been okay to see someone else sightseeing alone, someone that would
perhaps have found her interesting enough to chance a…friendship.
was no single, middle-aged, American professor specializing in Mayan history
who would ask her to his room after the tour to share a bottle of wine; who
would find her irresistible long into the night, and serve her breakfast at
enjoy the tour, even if Mexico is unreasonably cold.” Franco laughed heartily
at his play on words as the bus pulled into the parking lot. Day two in sunny
Mexico remained chilly and cloudy, exactly like day one. Guaranteed warmth should’ve
accompanied the high price of a holiday vacation.
jean jacket to her, Yuma stepped off the bus and into the arms of the two
English ladies, one on each side, looping their arms around hers.
dearie. We saw you were alone and thought you should chum with us. I’m
Maureen.” Maureen looked over rectangle gold-framed glasses perched on a nose not
quite in the middle of her face. Bright hazel eyes smiled under fluttering
white lashes. The warmth of her bony fingers penetrated the jean jacket covering
Yuma’s arm. “This is my baby sister, Helen.”
tugged slightly on her, forcing Yuma to shift her attention to the plumper face
of the baby sister. Faded blue eyes stared up while a whiskered upper lip
curled in a smile, reminding Yuma of a baby seal in a Disney movie she took her
niece to see. Helen patted her arm. “We single birds have to stick together.”
birds followed Franco around the grounds of Tulum, learning bits of Mayan
history sprinkled with tour guide humor, the best of which amused Yuma and
eluded the English sisterhood. They stayed at the front of the group for
Helen’s sake, partly deaf in her left ear, according to Maureen, thanks to a
bloody kick to the head from a mongrel cousin when she was four.
been single long?” Baby sister Helen asked when the tour concluded for lunch. “You
leave him or did he leave you for a younger woman?”
be so nosey!”
seal lips pouted, and her round eyes grew watery. “I was only making
conversation, Miss Bossy. You came up with the younger woman scenario anyway.” She
took a huge, triumphant bite out of her cheese sandwich.
turned to Yuma. “Sorry, dearie, but…”
“No need.” Yuma
waved off the explanation. “I think I wear divorced like a badge. Or maybe a scary
nonsense,” Maureen said. “A sweet, young thing like you? There must be all
sorts of opportunity for romance.”
at the sweet, young thing description. “I don’t really care about romance.”
highly overrated.” Helen nodded, mouth full of sandwich, hurt feelings
apparently forgotten. “In this day and age you can get more than romance if you
clucked her tongue and gave her sister a scornful look.
the middle-aged redhead in the commercial loan department at work would agree
with Helen. She would’ve preferred to bring back a case of pineapples from
Hawaii rather than her case of herpes. But Helen needn’t worry. This Mexican
vacation, solo style, was not a desperation samba. Yuma needed some time alone,
that was all.
would’ve been okay if yesterday, walking the streets of old Cancun, shopping
the Mercado, and eating lunch on the patio of a restaurant under cloudy skies,
she’d met someone. But there was no young Don Juan plying her with tequila and
seducing her into getting a tattoo on her hip while caressing her cheek and
murmuring what a fascinating creature she was.
romance for you, Helen?” Yuma crumpled her napkin and stuffed it into her empty
paper cup. The notion of romance finding Helen seemed more remote than the idea
that Helen could even know what dangers lurked in a careless flirtatious union.
“Oh, if it
were true romance, I wouldn’t walk away from it.” She scrubbed mayonnaise from
her whiskers. “I’ve had my share though, dearie. It’s Maureen here that’s
always on the lookout for a man, the marrying kind.”
really!” Maureen stood and carried her lunch container to the trashcan.
composed when she returned to the table, she didn’t sit down again. “You’ll
have to excuse my sister. She has no sense of propriety.” She looked down over
her glasses and gave her sister an obviously long-practiced scowl, a speechless
language understood between siblings.
they’re loading the bus.” Yuma stood and tossed her lunch remnants into the
trashcan. “Thanks for the company. Enjoy your holiday.” Walking away from the
sisters, she was glad Franco had instructed everyone to return to their same
seats. Chumming with Helen could be amusing, but Maureen – not so much.
the fifth one back in her seat. The gay couple quietly bickered, sitting as far
apart as the bus seating would allow. Gabby fat couple clumped together,
silently. Mr. had his head back and his eyes closed, rubbing his bulbous
abdomen. It wasn’t that she needed someone in her life. She proved that when
she walked away from a twenty-year marriage. She certainly didn't need the
arguing or the nursemaid duties all men seemed to require. That was unfair. She’d
had one marriage, one man. Maybe they didn’t all need nursemaids. Mrs. Gabby
Fat Couple opened a package of antacid tablets, took out two, and placed them
on Mr.’s extended tongue.
easier to figure out what you don’t need. The trick is figuring out what you do
need. So what did she need in her life?
husbands weren’t selfish, unimaginative, reticent and clueless. She was hard
pressed to think of any of the men she knew that wasn’t. Leaning her head back,
she stared at the ceiling. Maybe Dr. Tanner, her optometrist. Or Carl in
accounting. Not knowing them on a personal level she could imagine them to be
different from the husbands she actually knew. Could Dr. Tanner look into his
wife’s eyes without checking for glaucoma, could he see the soul without seeing
she expect from this trip? Turning her head, she looked out at gray skies and
sighed. She expected to get some damn sun in Mexico and lie on the beach in the
bright yellow two-piece swimsuit that cost too much. Then again, if some
younger-than-she-was hunk happened to notice her and find her attractive, she’d
be like Helen and not walk, or swim, away from him. She closed her eyes and
rested her head against the window. A little sun, a little adventure, a little…
mind?” A deep voice asked as he settled into the seat beside her.