The Cruise

by Doreen F.

Note from the author: I have never been on a cruise myself, so everything concerning this way of travelling is purely fictitious and gathered from stories I have heard and partly deliberately altered in order to speed up my story.

Tracy was flabbergasted. She had won, for the first time in her entire life she had won something of value at a tombola. To her utter disbelief her name had been announced and the prize she had won was a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea for a week. Wow!!! The only slight disappointment was that she was not allowed to take anyone with her which made it a bit less attractive; all in all Tracy was convinced she would meet some people on the ship.

Imagine Tracyís disappointment, when she found out that the cruise had been the prize at many tombolas and that even one of her friends had won a ticket for the same cruise. She knew that it was nice to have a friend with her, but it made it less special for her. On the other hand she did not mind having a familiar face on the huge ship. The cruise should start in Naples, Italy. Tracy and her friend took the train which was a lot cheaper than flying.

In the harbour they were quite impressed by the size of the ship. Their cabins were on different decks, but one right above the other. What a coincidence.

Upon departure they found out that the majority of the people on the ship had won the cruise. The ship was not fully booked, but not empty either. They were supposed to go to Crete first then Tunisia, Spain and France.

Due to the rather strict sitting rules everyone had to share a table with six to eight people who occupied the cabins next to them. During dinner Tracy found the people on her table quite likeable and one of the guys was especially handsome and she immediately had weak knees when he spoke or even looked at her. He seemed to be about her age, had short black hair which he had styled to look quite naturally, but she knew that it took some time to make it look like that. His good looks were obvious, but tastes are different. Most of the women at her table were either older than her or engaged and regretted the fact that their boyfriends could not join them. His name was Rick and he had quite openly told them that he was not engaged. Had he done that on purpose? She did not know. Tracy left the table a bit earlier in order to have a chat with her friend Connie. "Oh my gosh, you have a really cute guy sitting at your table. Thatís not fair."

"Iíve noticed you flirting with some cute men of the staff already. Please, let me have this one."

"No need to worry. Heís not my type anyway, too young and too fancy."

"Thank God. Have fun with you waiters though."

Connie went back to her table and Tracy decided to take a look around the ship. She had not had time for that yet and she was curious about what the ship had to offer. She had read the brochure, but seeing it for yourself was always different.

She took a look at the upper deck first. Tracy had always been a curious person. In the distance you could still see the faint lights of the Italian coast, but they were getting smaller and smaller until they finally disappeared. Around their boat everything was dark now. Tracy had already rounded the upper deck once, when suddenly she saw a shadow. She was not alone anymore. Tracy lay down in one of the sun chairs and looked up at the stars. The figure she had seen came closer.

"Sorry Miss, but you must not be up here at night" one of the staff said approaching.

"Oh, Iím sorry, I didnít know that. Forgive me."

"No problem. It wasnít your fault. Somebody must have forgotten to lock the doors."

"Thanks for telling me, good night."

"Good night, Miss."

On her way back to the cabin Tracy took a different way and went through the long corridor from the other side. She had not realized the corridor was that long and suddenly the lights went out because they had been timed to be on only for the amount of time one was assumed to need in order to get from his room to the stairs and back. The light switches seemed to be rather scarce. Actually they were inside the rooms and at the landing of the stairs. Tracy was somewhere in between. Slowly she made her way towards her room in complete darkness. Werenít there supposed to be some indicators for emergency exits or something like that? Why were there so few stair cases and light switches? Every hotel seemed to have more than this bloody ship! She had nearly reached her room when suddenly she bumped into someone.

"Iím sorry."

"Donít be, itís not your fault that the lights arenít working, is it?"

"I hope not. I was on the way to may room and suddenly the lights went dead. I thought this was just some bad coordination of the lighting on this deck."

She was standing next to a tall man.

"I even missed one step on my way because the light went out so suddenly. I think Iíve twisted my ankle."

"Can you walk?"

"Yeah, but it hurts. Anyway I was just getting up, when you ran into me."

"Thatís not your lucky day, is it?"

"Iíve had worse, but youíre quite right."

"Which roomís yours?"

"267."

"Hey, that means weíre neighbours. Iím in 266."

This meant they had been sitting at the same table and suddenly it dawned to Tracy that she might have run into Rick. Quite a good start!

Suddenly the lights went on and Tracyís assumptions were confirmed.

"Weíve been sitting at the same table at dinner, havenít we?"

"Of course, whatís your name again?"

"Tracy and you are Rick, right?"

"Thatís true."

They went towards their cabins Rick hobbling Tracy walking slowly beside him.

"Are you sure youíre okay? There must be a doctor on this ship."

"Itís okay, never mind."

"If you say so."

"Good night Tracy."

"Night Rick."

What a cutie, Tracy thought when she was inside her room.

Rick cursed himself for being so stupid. How could he miss one of those bloody steps? Even though it had been dark, that was not a valid excuse. His ankle hurt more than he had cared to admit in front of Tracy. She seemed really nice, quite direct, but really likeable. And nicer than everyone else he had met on the ship so far. He already regretted having decided to go on this cruise. His brother had won the prize, but since he was on his honeymoon that very week he had asked Rick. Rick had never been on a cruise and thought it might be a nice distraction from his recent break-up. Well, why not? But so far the cruise had been boring; most people were either much older or very boring. He had been lucky with his table though. Most of the others there had been nice and Tracy was the topping so to speak. But what if she did not like him? He took a pack of ice out of the fridge and put it onto his ankle. Then he took his glasses from the nightstand and switched on the TV.

In the morning Tracy awoke feeling refreshed. She regretted that she would not be able to go jogging on the ship, but so far the cruise had been quite exciting and there was still nearly one week left.

Rick did not feel refreshed at all. He had fallen asleep over watching TV and had woken up during the night only to find his TV was still on. At least he had taken off his glasses before falling asleep. He stretched and got up only to sit down again immediately cursing. His ankle still hurt, even more than last night. Great, he thought as he slowly got up again. Carefully he hobbled to the bathroom. Being slightly handicapped it took him quite long to get dressed.

Tracy was already having breakfast and all of the others were at their table as well. Only Rick was missing. Remembering his twisted ankle Tracy got up and went to his cabin to see how he was.

Rick was trying to put on shoes in which he felt comfortable, when there was a knock at his door. He opened and smiled immediately when he saw Tracy.

"Hi Tracy!"

"Morning Rick! I was worried there might be something wrong with you since you didnít show up for breakfast. So I thought I come by to make sure youíre alright."

"That's really sweet of you. My ankleís not much better. Thatís what took me so long."

"Are you okay to walk?"

"I hope so. Letís give it a try."

Rick hobbled out of his room and Tracy felt a pang of sympathy for him. What could be worse than getting hurt on the first evening of a cruise which only lasted a week? Poor Rick. Keeping his pace Tracy watched Rick hobble to the stairs.

"Donít you think you should see a doctor?"

"I should, but letís have breakfast first, okay?"

It took them quite long to reach the breakfast room and when they got there, there was hardly anyone there since all seemed to have returned to their cabins. They sat down at their table and had breakfast chatting all the time. After that they went to see the shipís doctor. He took a look at the ankle and Rick tried not to show the pain he felt when the doctor touched it. The doctor bandaged the ankle and gave Rick some ointment to put onto the ankle. "You mustnít put pressure on the foot. Iíll give you a pair of crutches. Come back tomorrow, if it hasnít improved. If it gets worse you might have to go to a hospital during one of our next stops."

Outside Tracy was waiting for Rick. He told her what the doctor had said.

"Great, so Iíll spend all my time on the ship lying somewhere. What a holiday!"

"Poor you. I was thinking of going up to the pool now. I know you wonít be able to swim, but you could join me anyway, if you like. Itís much better than lying in your room all day."

"Sure, at least Iíll get a nice tan to impress the others back home. There wonít be much else I can tell them in order to impress them anyway."

So Tracy and Rick went to their rooms in order to get changed for the pool. Tracy had met Connie at breakfast and had heard about a quite exciting night she had spent. In comparison Tracy meeting Rick was really boring.

Some 15 minutes later Rick knocked on Tracyís door and together they went up to the pool. Most people seemed to be there since the weather was really nice. At least the pool area was big enough for all of them and the children had a smaller pool on their own. Unfortunately they could only get hold of one chair, but Tracy said she would take a swim and after that there might be another chair for her.

Rick sat down laying the crutches onto the floor. He felt quite silly walking around as if he had a serious disability. But he felt that his foot appreciated it. Tracy jumped into the pool. How he would have loved to in there with her. She did not look like a model, but was quite pretty and really sexy. The only problem for him was that the deck chair he was sitting on was quite far away from the pool. Without his glasses he could not clearly make out Tracy among the other heads in the water however hard he tried. Squinting did not help at such a distance, but at least it was not that obvious because of the sunlight.

Before the cruise Rick had finally given in and bought himself a new pair of glasses, which he also intended to wear Ė not like his old glasses. He had needed them since his last year of high school, but rarely wore them back then and had not worn them much since. Only if really necessary, like for watching TV and driving. Over the last few years he had noticed, though, that even while wearing his glasses his vision was not that clear anymore. He had also tried contact lenses, but they did not feel comfortable after only a couple of minutes. So he had never used them either. Some weeks before the cruise, he had given in and went to see an ophthalmologist. He said that his prescription had increased by more than one dioptre and that the astigmatism had got worse too. The doctor had advised him to wear his glasses most of the time. So he had spent hours at the optician until he finally found a nice pair; he did not think he looked too bad with them, but wearing them all the time was a different matter. Rick had decided that the cruise would be the perfect opportunity to become a full time wearer. But he had not started yet. Now that he had met Tracy it was going to be a lot more difficult to Ďoutí himself, he thought. He was angry at himself and his vanity. And now his ankle had given up on him as well.

A splash of water brought him back to the here and now.

Tracy had been in the pool for over an hour and now she was getting bored. Rick had never once reacted when she had waved at him. He had been staring into the distance with a weird look on his face. So now she had decided to bring him back to the present.

Rick looked up at her. "You canít walk around harassing disabled people" he said grinning. "Howís the pool? Iíd love to be in it too."

"The poolís great, but it would be much nicer with you in it. Maybe some other time this week when your ankle is better we could go there together."

"Thatíd be great! Letís hope my ankle will be up for that."

None of the other chairs had been vacated in the meantime so there was nowhere to sit for Tracy.

"Iíll share my chair with you. You can sit at the bottom. Is that alright for you?"

"Itís definitely better than standing."

Tracy sat down and asked, "How's your ankle anyway?"

"Great, but walking is kind of difficult."

They chatted about various things and time passed really quickly. Suddenly they heard someone shouting that they could see dolphins swimming next to the ship. They got up and went to the railing. In the distance you could see a group of dolphins swimming alongside the ship.

Rick stood next to Tracy, who was really excited, straining to see the dolphins, but all he could see was they sea and from time to time a grey something. "Arenít they cute? Why don't I have my camera with me? Look, that oneís particularly cute!" Rick took a deep breath and managed to say quite casually, "Honestly, I donít see that far without my glasses." There, he had said it out aloud, but there was no reaction whatsoever on Tracyís side. None that was visible anyway. But on the inside her heart missed a beat and she stopped thinking about dolphins. Her thoughts kept racing to Rick and him wearing glasses. Could that be true? Could this guy not only be incredibly nice and handsome, but also be wearing glasses?

Back on their chair Rick and Tracy were both deep in thoughts. "I should not have mentioned it. Now she wonít like me anymore. But I have to wear them sooner or later." Rick thought.

"How can I make him show me his glasses without being too daft? How shall I proceed to get more out of this but mere friendship?" were Tracyís thought. If only he knew, but there was still some way to go.

"Erh listen, I donít know if youíve heard, but tonight thereís a party. The mottoís ĎPirates of the Mediterranean.í Would you like to join me as the one-legged captain?"

"Of course, that sounds great. Do we have to wear costumes?"

"I guess so, but you can lend them at deck 3 somewhere."

"Letís go take a look, after lunch!"

"Great, Iíll give you a knock."

Back in their cabins both were really excited about the Ďdateí they would have, but also extremely nervous.

Rick was checking himself out in the mirror. Then he put on his glasses. He did not look bad after all, but wearing them in the public was different. Nevertheless he felt that his eyes relaxed from the strain they had been through all morning. He dressed casually hopping around on one leg. His ankle felt slightly better, but he did not want to risk anything by putting too much pressure on his injured foot. Before long there was a knock at his door. Quickly he whisked off his glasses and put them on the nightstand. Tracy had been really quick.

Indeed she had, although Tracy took some time to decide what to put on. All her thoughts kept racing around the fact that Rick wore glasses. Oh, how she would love to seem him wearing them. He was a real cutie, but glasses, she was sure, would make him irresistible in any possible way.

They had lunch sitting next to each other having a nice talk with the others at their table. Afterwards they went to the place with the costumes and found some really nice ones which fitted them perfectly.

Around 2 p.m. the ship stopped in Crete and most people left for a sight-seeing tour. Tracy had promised Connie to go with her. So Rick had to stay behind. On the one hand, he did not really mind since he might have needed his glasses out there, but on the other hand, he would have loved to spend more time with Tracy and cursed his ankle once again. So he spent most of the afternoon reading a really exciting book by one of his favourite authors, Reginald Hill.

Tracy and Connie had a great time on the island chatting about the cute guys most of the time. Connie was completely in love with one of the stewards Ė she had always been attracted by uniforms. Tracy told her about Rick, most of it, but she did not dare to mention he needed glasses and that she was thrilled by that. The tour took quite long and they did not have much time to get ready for dinner when they returned.

As she arrived at her cabin Tracy suddenly felt the desire to knock at Rickís door. It took some time till he opened.

"Hey, how was the tour?"

"Great uhÖ I was wondering if you wanted to come over after dinner to add the final touch to our costumes."

"Sure, shall I pick you up for dinner?"

"Yes, give me in 20 minutes."

"Okay, see you."

Rick returned to the chair he had been sitting on. He had quickly removed his glasses and placed them on the desk, when Tracy had knocked at his door. So now he decided it was time for another bare-eyed night on the ship. Rick got dressed for dinner and twenty minutes later he knocked at Tracyís door. Together they went to the big hall, where dinner was served. The food was delicious and the dinner itself was okay, but not special. Afterwards the captain announced that the party would take place at 21.00. This meant that Tracy and Rick had some time to get dressed. The returned to their cabins and got dressed. Then Rick came over to Tracy and the made some final adjustments to their costumes like putting on make-up etc. Tracy had also opted to dress as a pirate since she had always loved playing pirates when she was a kid. They looked really funny and had a really good time before they even left the cabin. Since Rick was supposed to be one-legged, he did not take his crutches with him; limping would not be a major problem for him. Tracy wore an eye cap and they had both put on some make-up to make them look really dangerous.

They left the cabin and went to the ball room where the party took place. Obviously Rick had some difficulty moving around without crutches, but he did not want to show it to Tracy and pretended he was fine. At the ball room, though, he was glad to sit down. Tracy had suspected that he wanted to impress her, but she did not really mind. All the other guests wore costumes as well and they had a great time. Tracy and Rick even danced although it was not easy for Rick to be dancing on one leg only. The light was rather dim and the music consisted of mainly of the soundtrack of "Pirates of the Caribbean" which was great. Tracy introduced Connie to Rick and also got to know Connieís darling, one of the stewards. They were dressed as Elizabeth and Will of the movie and looked fantastic in their costumes. After some time Tracy removed her eye patch and the others tried it on. When it was Rickís turn he once again realised how impaired his vision was. He could see fairly okay with both of his eyes, but with one, especially his left eye, which was slightly weaker and had more astigmatism, it was not that much fun. They others thought Rick looked great with the eye patch, the one-legged and one-eyed captain, but he did not wear it very long since he having an injured legged was already more than he could bear. He had been trying all night to show that his ankle still hurt, but after midnight and plenty of standing and even dancing he could not stand it any longer. So Rick told Tracy that he would go to his cabin. She said she had had enough as well and they left the party together. As they were eventually out of the ball room Rick felt relieved. The clear air was great, but what he really wanted was to be in his cabin. Slowly he limped towards the stairs. Tracy was next to him and offered that he could lean onto her if he did not want to put too much pressure on the injured foot. He was rather grateful. They chatted along the way and Rick felt that all the tension he had built up during the exhausting evening was gradually released. Finally they reached their cabins and Rick turned to face Tracy. "Thank you for everything tonight. It was great." "Well, I guess I have to thank you for accompanying me. I know how hard it must have been for you." He moved closer and kissed her. Then they said good night and went into their cabins. Tracy fell asleep rather quickly dreaming of another great day with Rick at her side. Rick could not fall asleep so easily. He kept thinking about the night and everything. What should he do about his glasses? He would have to start wearing them sooner or later and sooner would be better. But what about Tracy? She had not reacted when he mentioned his glasses. But she had not rejected him either. So either she did not care orÖ or what? She knew he had them, he had told her. So it should not be a problem to actually wear them! He would start wearing them tomorrow, he hoped Öor maybe not.

In the morning Tracy was up quite early as she was used to from home although she had gone to bed quite late. Since she could not really go jogging, she decided to go swimming before breakfast. There was nobody at the pool at such an early hour. She spent half an hour swimming professionally. This helped her relax, even though her thoughts kept coming back to Rick from time to time. On her way back to the cabin she knocked at Rickís door in order to wake him and make sure he was alright after last nights exertion.

Rick opened looking really cute. His hair was ruffled and he looked really sleepy.

"Oh, Iím sorry, did I wake you?"

"No, you didnít, donít worry. Iíve just got up. You seem to have been up for ages."

"I woke up quite early and decided to go swimming. It was great. Howís you ankle?"

"Better, but not well; Iíll see the doctor after breakfast."

"Shall we have breakfast together?"

"Certainly, just give me fifteen minutes to make me look more awake than I actually am."

"Alright, Iíll have to get dressed anyway. Come over when youíre ready."

Tracy got dressed in no time at all, combed her wet hair and was fully dressed by the time Rick showed up and looked much more awake.

They had breakfast, but most of the other people who had been to the party were not up yet. So they had plenty of food to choose from. Afterwards Tracy accompanied Rick to the doctor. He said that the swelling had receded, but he recommended that Rickís foot still needed some rest. Rick could decide for himself if he still wanted to use the crutches or not. The doctor also renewed the bandage. Rick decided to go without the crutches, since he did not want to appear too handicapped and his ankle did indeed feel better despite the strain it had been under the previous night. Subconsciously Rick had probably put most pressure on the good leg. Tracy was really happy to hear that Rickís ankle was better.

They decided to go to the pool and were lucky this time, since there were not too many people at the pool yet, as most of them were either still sleeping or having breakfast. Rick joined her this time, although he did not swim too much. They had a great time and since they were not really hungry, they stayed at the pool all day. The ship stopped in Tunisia, but neither of them wanted to explore the country because both of them had been there before. Before dinner they took a look at the dayís night programme. Much to Tracyís joy there was a movie night showing a movie she had not yet seen, but desperately wanted to see.

"Oh my god, they are showing "Thank you for Smoking." I wanted to see it, but it never got to any cinema close enough to my home. Itís said to be an excellent film."

"Let's go there then. I never managed to see it either."

"That's great. When does it start?"

"Some time after dinner."

While getting dressed for dinner Rick suddenly thought that he might not be able to go to the movies without his glasses. He had not been wearing them all day and his eyes were starting to complain, giving him a light headache. Could he take this step, he asked himself?

Tracy was looking forward to the movie and she also secretly wished that Rick would finally be wearing his glasses. She had been watching him quite a lot today and he had been squinting quite often screwing up his eyes at something in the not too far distance.

Dinner was rather quiet since many had eaten in Tunisia and were not hungry. Afterwards they took a stroll back to their cabin. Rick was still limping slightly, but his ankle did not hurt that much anymore.

Before they went to the movies Tracy and Rick returned to their cabins to get dressed more casually. Rick put his glasses into his pocket, yet unsure whether he would dare to use them unless it was absolutely necessary. Together they went in search of the room where the movie was to be shown. There were several different movies on tonight and they had to find the right room. When they got there, most seats had already been taken and the only place where two seats were next to each other were at the rear of the room. Rick realised that the screen was quite far away and not too big either. Before the movie actually started there were some ads and trailers. Tracy was commenting on something that he could not really see. He knew that if he wanted to enjoy this evening he would have to put on his glasses.

"Oh, that seems to be a good movieÖ erh, whatís the name of this actor, Rick?"

"Without my glasses I wouldnít know. Iíd better put them on now before the movie begins."

"You better do." Tracy said concealing her curiosity.

"Donít laugh at me, okay?"

"Thatís the wrong thing to say if you donít want me to laugh, just kidding."

"Alright, are you ready?" Rick asked more self-confident than he actually felt. He then took out his glasses and put them on. The look of him in glasses caught Tracyís breath. He looked at her questioningly. Tracy nodded approvingly and managed a, "Why should I be laughing? You look good", before the movie started. Rick felt slightly relieved, but hoped she had not only said this out of politeness. Well, at least he would be able to enjoy the movie.

The film was fantastic, a great satire and Tracy and Rick really enjoyed it. When it was over Rick asked if Tracy wanted to have a cocktail. The ship had its own cocktail bar. Tracy accepted the invitation. They sat down under one of the palm trees and placed their orders. Rick had not removed his glasses and for the first time he was able to enjoy the great view. Tracy tried to conceal her delight at seeing Rick in glasses. What a sight! What a guy! They chatted about the movie and after a cocktail or two they decided to return to their cabins. On the way Tracy plucked up all her courage and said, "Why donít you wear your glasses more often as you obviously need them? I mean not wearing them all the time, but at least having them with you in case you need them."

Rick told her about his vanity and his big plan of becoming a full-time wearer on the cruise. They had reached their cabin by then, but somehow they did not want to say good night just then. So Rick asked Tracy to join him in his cabin. They had a great night talking and eventually kissing telling each other their deepest thoughts. It was an unforgettable night where neither of them got too much sleep, but plenty of comfort.

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