"Marco Polo"

Outside the weather was nasty.  Cold and rainy with a sharp wind that slung the rain sideways.  In the quiet of the house she could hear the weather.  Through the window by her bed she could feel the cold air. 

Her husband hates that she has to have a window open to sleep when it's cold but she does it anyway.  She needs that air to breathe.  She needs a reminder that the air in this house isn't the only air she has access to.

She's been awake for an hour listening to her husband snore.  A sound that has become unbearable as his weight has increased and his sleep apnea has gotten worse.The look on her face is one of a woman who is trying not to think too much but has no choice.  She sighs and her husband stirs, his large arm drops on her chest and she closes her eyes briefly and then she gets out of bed.

As she stands at the base of the bed getting dressed in her running clothes she watches her husband.  Listens to him.  Takes him all in without emotion it seems.

She heads down the hall and stops to look in on both her children.  Her daughter still in the same spot she fell asleep in and her son upside down in bed without covers with his arm slung across their dog, Rasta.

Rasta opens his eyes and watches her but doesn't move.  She picks the duvet off the floor and gently places it over her son and dog.

And then...

She walks down the stairs and out the front door for her morning run.  Her heart heavy, matching the beat of her feet.  Picking up speed, accelerating the sound.

She stopped running to music years ago and prefers to listen to the sounds around her as they blurred in her wake.  As she puts in the work. 

As she puts in the work.

The further away from her home she gets...the easier breathing becomes.  She smiles at the feeling.  She embraces it. 

I'm strong.

I'm strong.

I'm a woman.

I'm a woman.

And after 45 minutes she turns around and heads back home.

When she walks in the house she smells coffee and bacon.  Her husband is up making breakfast.

"How was your run?" he asks.

"It was great.  Thank you for asking."

Polite.  Always polite.

He hands her her favorite coffee mug and she pours her coffee.  He's cooking bacon and eggs with cheese.  There are grits on the stove as well and toast. 

She gets out a boiled egg from the fridge and cracks it.  Puts the peeled egg on a saucer and gets a slice of toast.  Pulls the Smart Balance out of the fridge and puts a bit on her toast and leaves it out so he could use it.  She grabs a banana and an orange and sits at the kitchen bar.

He fixes a plate full of bacon and eggs with cheese.  Four slices of toast and a bowl of grits. Puts the Smart Balance in the fridge and gets out the butter.

Real butter.

He turns around and his stomach hits the handle on the skillet with the eggs and it makes a loud scraping noise.

She looks up and down before he sees her.

He balances his food in his hands and sits next to her while they eat in silence.

"Did you email me your itinerary?"  he asks between bites.

"Yes.  Last week sometime.  I'm staying at the host hotel."

"Okay.  I wish you didn't have to leave on a Sunday."

"I'm not leaving until the last flight this evening.  My first panel is at 9:00 am tomorrow."

"I know.  But still..."

She gets up and puts her dishes in the sink. 

This conversation is over.


In the cab headed to the hotel she checks her text messages and then leans back into her seat.  Bored...she gets out her speech  notes and flips through them until they arrive at her hotel.  She pays the cab driver and walks across the lobby pulling her suitcase behind her.

"Excuse me...Miss...you dropped this..."

She turns and a well dressed gentleman is holding her scarf out to her.

"Oh!  Thank you so very much!"  She notices his lanyard.  "Are you here for the conference?"

"Yes.  You?"

"Yes.  Just getting here.  Make sure you attend the panel on Bioenergetics in the morning."

"Are you speaking?"

"Yes.  Dr. Sonya Christman."  She shakes his hand.

"Wow.  Scientists don't usually look like you."  he laughs.

"That's the same thing my husband said when we first met."  she laughs as well.



"Are you going to the evening social tonight?"

"No.  I have to go over my notes for tomorrow but I hope to see you at the panel."

And she goes to check in.

It was in the elevator that she dropped the phony smile.  It was like magic ya know?  She walked in a pretty professional woman all about business and just like that...with the ding of the elevator...she changed.

Her walk slowed.

Her heart started beating faster.

The smile on her face replaced...with something...

She inserts the card to her room and walks in...unlocks the adjoining door inside her room and pushes it open.

And there he is. 

The most beautiful man she's ever seen...and he opens his arms and hugs her tight while she inhales him and exhales.  His hands move to each side of her face, under her hair as he bends to kiss her in that way he does that makes it impossible for thoughts of anything except him, him, him.

"Marco..." she breathes.

"Polo." he murmurs.

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