Aryanwy Pryce stepped out on to the stairs to debark from the airplane and breathed deep of the Hawaiian air. It smelled of salt, flowers, sand, and endless warmth. The salt and sand were familiar scents; she did live on the Pembrokeshire coast, but it was the exotic floral scents and warmth that had prompted her to spend the better part of two days traveling half way around the world.
The moment to drink in the exotic location was spoiled when she was jostled from behind. Taking her cue, Ary proceeded down the stairs where a Hawaiian woman in a muumuu waited with an arm full of leis.
"Aloha and welcome," the woman said as she set a lei of purple and white orchids around Ary's neck.
"Thank you," Ary said.
"Mahalo," the woman replied.
"Mahalo," Ary tried out the word in the foreign tongue.
The woman nodded and indicated the grass roofed open air building where the luggage would be found. Ary joined the line of her fellow passengers waiting for the luggage. At last her battered suitcase with a Welsh dragon sticker appeared. She would need another identifying mark for the flight back to Cardiff, but here in Kona dragons were scarce and worked well for indentifying one's case. She picked it up and found her way to the shuttle for her resort.
An hour later, Aryanwy was stretched out on the lounge chair on her private lanai facing the Pacific Ocean. She dozed from the strain and exahustion of the trip and the warm weather. The sound of the waves lapping at the aa lava below her deck was soothing. Just before she slipped into the arms of Morpheus, she thought, 'I could get used to this.'
When she awoke, Ary felt refreshed. This was definitely the vacation for her. Warm air, peaceful ocean, and exotic flowers were all she had ever dreamed of. Palm trees lined the path from her condo to the outdoor swimming pool. Who cared if it was January, it was warm enough for a swim and that was exactly what Aryanwy intended to do.
A few days on the island and Ary was learning Hawaiian, getting a tan, and wearing Hawaiian print skirts and tops with a Hibiscus flower over her ear. She was fitting in and considering a change in location, permanently. Who wanted to live where it was grey and rainy most of the year when you could live in paradise?
“Ary, wake up,” came the voice of Richard Rhys, Aryanwy's fiance. He gently shook her shoulder and Ary woke.
She looked around. She was on a beach but instead of the bikini she last remembered wearing, she was bundled up in jeans, a tee shirt, and hoodie with a quilt wrapped around her. The sand was cold where it crept into her shoes. The wind whipping around her was cold with a damp mist to it. Beautiful in its own way, but not the piece of paradise she had dreamed about.
“How long was I asleep?” Ary asked.
“About an hour,” Richard replied. “Good dreams?”
“Yes,” Ary said. “ How do you feel about Hawaii for our honeymoon?”
“I thought we agreed it was too far away and expensive to get there,” Richard said.
“We did,” Ary agreed. “But I dreamed I was there. It was so real.”
“It's nice to dream,” Richard said. “But we have to be practical. If we go to Hollyhead for our honeymoon, we can save thousands of pounds over going to Hawaii and we can use that money to save up for a home of our own.”
“I know,” Ary said with a sigh. “It's just I've always dreamed of honeymooning somewhere tropical.”
“Maybe if my practice takes off,” Richard said with a condescending smile. “We can go somewhere tropical for a second honeymoon for our tenth anniversary.”
Suddenly Aryanwy had a clear vision of what her life was going to be like. She'd give into Richard's plans until she had given up all her dreams and ideas. She'd be cook and maid and, if Richard thought they could afford it, mother. She'd have nothing to live for but her husband and kids- all trace of Aryanwy Pryce subsumbed into Mrs. Richard Rhys. In ten years time, the practice would be well established but Richard would be in the middle of some trial and the kids would be too young to leave with either set of grandparents and Ary's dream would be put off again. He'd promise for every significant anniversary and something would come up and her dream would be delayed again until she died and still she'd never have seen the tropical ocean.
Aryanwy loved Richard but she was beginning to see that she didn't like him very much. He always chose where they went, never listening to her wants and desires. Take today, she had wanted to go to Cardiff and see a play at the Millennium Centre but he said January was the perfect time to go to the Pembrokshire Coast as it wasn't crowded and the prices were better. So here they were, bundled up and damp on the coast when they could have been warm and dry in Cardiff. She wasn't so sure that she could take a lifetime of being second place and with no real opinion. She wanted a partner not a lord and master.
Ary dug her way out of the quilt and pulled off her gloves. She stood up and removed the ring she had been so proud to wear for the last year. Looking at the ring now, she saw it was small and represented the man who gave it to her well. It was not small because that was all he could afford, it was small because his love was small. He could have afforded a larger one, but because he was saving for a future that would never come he'd bought the smallest diamond he could. The ring was supposed to represent their love and this one was pathetic.
“Richard,” she said as she twisted the ring off her finger. “I can't do it. I can't marry you.”
“What?” Richard looked up at her. “Just because I want to be practical and not waste a fortune on a trip when that money could be better used on something real?”
“Fulfilling a dream is something real,” Ary said quietly. She took the ring and held it out to him.
“I never said it wasn't,” he said, not taking the ring.
“But no,” she said a little louder as she gained courage to undo what she never should have done in the first place. “I can't marry you, not because you want to be practical and go to Hollyhead and not Hawaii, but because that is the most recent example of you not taking my feelings, wants, and needs into account for your plans.” She reached out and grabbed his hand and placed the ring into it before walking away.
“Where are you going?” he called.
“To the pub to get a ride to the train station and then home,” she answered.
“Don't do that,” Richard said. “I'll drive you home, if you just wait for me to pack up.”
“All right,” Ary agreed. She had doubts about whether or not she'd have enough money for the train fare. “Be quick about it.”
Richard quickly stuffed the ring in his jacket pocket, snatched up the discarded quilt, and gathered the remains of the picnic. He tried to run, but the sand was loose and hampered him. Finally he reached her side and they made their way back to the car park. The ride home was silent, resplendent with anger and hurt.
“Good bye, Richard,” Aryanwy said with finality as she got out of the car when they reached her flat. “Have a nice life.”
She turned and hurried into the flat without waiting for his reply. There was nothing he could say that would change her mind. She did not need the guilt he would try to heap upon her. It was best if they could both walk away with as much dignity that broken dreams would let them. Regardless of what other dreams she would chase, now that she was free to do so, marrying Richard had been a dream for the last year or so and letting him go would still hurt.
Two months later, Aryanwy was descending from an airplane in the warm Hawaiian air. The smell of the air was redolent with the tropical floral and sea scents that she remembered from the dream she'd had the day she broke her engagement. The moment of deja vu was complete with the Hawaiian woman with the leis at the base of the stairs.
Ary bent her head as the circle of orchids floated down around her neck. She straightened and said, “Thank you.”
“Mahalo,” the woman said and Aryanwy smiled. Sometimes dreams do come true.
updated by @sarah-e-miller: 01/28/16 10:12:33PM