He opened the kitchen door, “Marion, I think we should go to the shore and stay a few days; get away from here, and talk about retirement. We need a change. Let’s pack our stuff. Don’t forget your medicine. We’ll have to call the kids and tell them that we’re going.” Once the boys left home it became family practice to call whenever anyone would be away from home for an extended period. It was a good way to avoid undue distress. Marion objected, “No one’s been there for a long time. I hate to think of the cobwebs.” “I spent the morning there. It’s clean and ready to go. I went to the market and wait ’til you see what I bought. I’m sick of the diet we’re on; a few days off it will be good for us. Life is too short to eat a bland diet. Let’s hurry up and get out of here.” They called the kids. David and Elliot were home together. Katherine was home in Memphis but Addison was having office hours, she gave them his direct line saying he’d be disappointed if they didn’t call. Once the calls had been made they headed out.
Marion seemed to relax better on the drive. It was a mild, clear afternoon. They meandered from one topic to the next. He marveled at their good fortune to be able to escape without asking permission from anyone. At camp, they put their clothes and toiletries away and began supper. They turned the radio on to listen to NPR. Public radio was all that was allowed at camp, it was the least unsettling. The accustomed kitchen harmony allowed them to relax completely. They’d spent half a century making meals together. Hank poured wine for them as he tenderized one of the steaks for the grill. Marion mentioned, as she usually did, how odd it seemed that their appetites had decreased to the point that they ate half of what they used to eat. They ate and smiled. There wasn’t a lot that needed saying.
After they’d done the dishes. Hank made coffee and took out a cigar. He pocketed the clove cigarettes and asked Marion to join him on the steps. He lit his cigar and sheepishly drew the cigarettes out of his pocket. “I saw these at the store and I thought you might like to give them a try. Katherine smokes them sometimes; they smell pretty good.” Marion began to speak, “Hank, I…” “Hush. You’re a grown woman. I know you smoke. Try them and see what you think.” They sat smoking on the steps like the two old friends that they were.