John smiled as he sat at the wheel of the beautiful white houseboat. He had told his partner they needed to get away from everything for a few weeks, and had suggested a trip to Echuca, so she had booked this houseboat for them.
“This makes things so much easier”, he smiled to himself.
This was the best part of the day, early morning when the sun was just rising. The dew on the trees shimmered and the waters sparkled like diamonds. They had started out at Spot Hill and were headed for Echuca to pick up supplies for the week.
John and Suzanne had been having a few problems, so this was exactly what they needed, Suzanne thought.
She joined John on the bridge, sat down next to the wheel, and handed him his morning coffee.
“What a beautiful morning! How long until we reach Echuca John?”
“The way we’re going, it shouldn’t be more than an hour. Do you have your list of supplies finished?”
“Yes, I’ve been over the list several times and pretty sure I haven’t missed anything.”
John looked at Suzanne.
“Are you happy? Are you glad you took this time away, from all the financial woes happening at home? You really needed this time out.”
“Yes, I’m very happy. That pandemic put us in such a bad spot. The Café was going down hill fast. Hopefully when we get back things will have improved.”
Suzanne had noticed John had used “you” not “we” so her suspicions were growing by the hour.
“Well you have two beautiful weeks to get away from all of that, and your sister promised she would look after things until you got back. So sit back and enjoy this lovely river.”
Later that day Suzanne got a call from her sister.
“Hi sis, what’s happening?”
“Hi Suzanne, just letting you know we have been doing takeaway like you suggested, and guess what? Business is booming! Not only have we been overwhelmed with online pick-up orders, but the line for take-away lunches and coffees, is half-way down the block!”
“Hope you’re enjoying your time away, you lucky person! We’ll be glad to see you back in a couple of weeks! Bye, love you!’
Suzanne was ecstatic, the café was thriving and she was having a beautiful holiday, so why wasn’t she smiling? She knew in her heart that something was about to go horribly wrong.
Several times over the last few weeks she had caught John on his phone, sending messages.
When she had mentioned it, he said it was just suppliers for the Café asking about orders, and would quickly put his phone in his pocket.
Suzanne joined John, still at the wheel.
“Just around the corner!” he said. And sure enough there was Echuca and the enormous remodelled wharf. They pulled in along-side the wharf and anchored the boat.
Grabbing several shopping bags they scrambled off the boat onto the wharf and were welcomed by the people in charge. They only needed to do a little personal shopping, as most things had been ordered on-line and would be delivered to the wharf for them to put straight on board.
Suzanne had heard about the great shopping in Echuca and was looking forward to having a little spree.
“Okay john, this is where we part, I’ll meet you back here at the restaurant for lunch at 2pm.”
“Sure thing Suzie, have a great time shopping, don’t spend too much! Ha Ha!”
With that Suzanne grabbed the nearest taxi and headed into town. John said he would stay behind and supervise the supplies he had ordered on-line, as he had no interest in window shopping.
She found some lovely little gift shops and bought some small things for her family. Then she visited the antique shops and looked, but didn’t buy, at some beautiful glassware. Next stop was an art gallery, and this time she bought a small painting for her lounge room.
After visiting several boutiques which had great sales on, her shopping bags were full so it was time to head back to the restaurant.
She was about 45 minutes early, but that didn’t matter, she could look around the souvenir shops at the wharf, and read the local newspaper.
As she was heading into one of the shops she saw John a few doors further up. She was about to call to him then she noticed, he wasn’t alone. In fact he had his arms around a lovely blonde girl. At that moment he got out his phone and called her, it was a message.
“Hi Suzie, well when you arrive at the restaurant, sorry I won’t be there. You know we haven’t been happy for some time, and I have found someone else. I don’t want anything from you, I have been saving for several years to go my own way. Have a good life, I did love you once Suzie, good-bye, john.”
Suzanne wasn’t at all surprised, in fact she had been wondering when this would happen. When she looked up they had disappeared into the crowd on the wharf.
“Well now I don’t have to wonder when it will happen.”
She wasn’t worried, she knew how to steer the boat, the supplies were being loaded on board for her, she had two weeks of bliss sailing this lovely houseboat along the gorgeous Murray, but then she had an idea. She was only about 3 hours from home so she called her sister and explained what was happening.
“You are kidding me! Jenny cried. Why would he do that?”
“It’s okay Jenny, I have been expecting it. I was wondering if you could get someone to drive you to Echuca, and you could join me for the next 2 weeks?”
“Oh wow! I’m pretty sure I can find someone to do that! I’ll tee everything up and I should be there by about eight tonight!”
Sure enough Jenny arrived around eight o’clock with a friend who had booked ahead, to stay the night.
After arranging all her gear from the car onto the boat, it was time to get going.
“Oh Suzie I am so sorry! Are you very upset?”
“Upset? No, of course not! I’ve been suspecting something was going on for quite a while, so now it’s all over and done and we can get on with enjoying our trip!”
As the last of the suns rays left fiery flashes in the trees, and the flocks of native birds settled down to rest, Suzanne pulled into a small cove for the night and tied up.
Sitting under the canopy listening to the birds in the trees, Suzanne pulled out her recharged phone, and sent a message.
“Hi John, sorry to hear you will miss out on this great cruise, but Jenny and I will enjoy it. Your new friend looks very nice, so please look after her. Enjoy your life, because I intend to enjoy mine!” Bye, Suzanne.
The next day they headed downstream again, passing beautiful, elegant white herons standing in the water waiting to catch a fish, Murray River cod jumping out of the water, in an exuberant dance of life. White cockatoos by the thousands, flocking to the lush green eucalypts along the banks of the Murray. Young kangaroos standing along the shore, wishing them on their way, and koalas hanging in the branches overhead, as they passed silently by.
Jenny and Suzanne spent the next two weeks in bliss. They turned off their phones and the radio and just enjoyed the sounds and sights of nature, as they sat and read, or just sunbaked on the deck. At night by the light of a lantern they played poker, and ate delicious snacks, and drank a few glasses of red.
Too soon, it was time to head back to Spot Hill.
When Suzanne and Jenny arrived back at the Café, the whole place was buzzing. A lot of the restrictions had been lifted, so they were allowed to have customers inside and out, and the on-line orders were off the scale.
The two week getaway along the mighty Murray had started out pretty grim, but had finished up one of the best holidays the sisters had ever had.
Business was booming, life was worth living and the Murray kept on flowing.