That perfect opportunity arrived one March day, in the form of a handsome next door neighbor. He was not much older than her, and the two struck up a quick and easy friendship. Before long, they were sharing Coors Lights, long walks, and late night conversations. They talked late into the night, exchanged funny stories, their hopes, and their dreams. (Their dreams did not include living in the tiny town for much longer.) Eventually, it was clear to everyone that they were "an item".
One day, the handsome neighbor told the young woman that he needed to discuss something with her. He sounded a bit apprehensive and a knot formed in her stomach. Perhaps this relationship really was too good to be true. She had probably gotten carried away with her feelings, and she worried that he now felt differently. But she agreed to have him come over to discuss whatever was on his mind.
The next evening, he knocked on her door shortly after returning home from work. She led him into her living room, noticing the envelopes he held in his left hand. She wondered if he had been in such a rush to get this over with that he forgot to drop off his mail. He sat down on the edge of the hand-me-down couch and his eyes drifted around the room. She held her breath-- waiting for the floor to fall out from under her. She silently cursed herself for falling so hard and so fast for this guy, someone so experienced, someone so out of her league. Eventually, he took a deep breath and began.
"So....." he spoke slowly, as if searching for the right words, "a friend of mine runs a travel agency with his mom."
The woman stared back at him, brow furrowed and head cocked to the side. This was an unusual way to begin the breakup conversation. But still, she listened.
"Anyway, supposedly the hottest new travel destination is the Dominican Republic. They're building resorts and it's supposed to be the place to go." He paused, again waiting for some sign to go on with his speech, but the woman just continued to stare blankly back at him.
"Well, back at Christmas, my brother and I bought tickets for a week long trip in Punta Cana. It's at an all-inclusive resort called the Iberostar Bavaro. At the time, I thought S would be going with me... but now that we're not together....." his voice trailed off. He paused for a moment before begining again.
"Well, the trip's paid for and if I don't go, I'm just out the money I spent on it. And I really don't want to be the third wheel with my brother and sister-in-law," he said. He glanced at the woman, and then around the room some more. He fiddled with the edge of the mail, which the woman now realized was a travel brochure for The Iberostar Bavaro.
"So I was just thinking," he continued, "I mean, if you're interested....." and he handed her the brochures.
She was momentarily blinded by the shiny bright brochures and her mind raced with the reality of what was happening. Wait.... he wasn't calling things off... he was kind of turning things up a notch-- if that was even possible. This person, who had already somehow swept her off her feet in a matter of weeks was now asking her to spend a week in paradise with him? Things like this did not happen to people like her. But for once, it was happening, she was holding the brochures to prove it.
That night, she sank into her down comforter and gazed at her ceiling fan dancing around in a perfect circle. She imagined twinkling stars shining above a dark, mysterious ocean. She felt sugary white sand between her toes and tasted fresh coconut on her lips. Her eyes closed and she fell asleep listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the beaches of the Dominican Republic.
She dreamed of pristine courtyards
and beaches that went on for miles.
and tropical drinks, poured into hollowed out pineapple.
She dreamed of Caribbean party boats and big smiles and underwater adventures.
She dreamed of being crowned, "Miss Iberostar" and the local announcer would clap and cheer and pronounce it, "Meeez I-beer-oh-stah!"
And when she came to the part where they boarded the plane back to Chicago, she squinted her eyes closed, wishing/hoping/praying that the whole thing had not just been a dream.