For Better or Worse

by Amy Southard

Jodi looked at the clock on the nightstand and saw that it was 11:11 PM. She laid in the magnificent king-sized four poster bed waiting for her husband Mark to join her. Neither of them had stayed in a place so fancy before, not because they couldn’t afford it but because they were so busy with work and kids. The walls were papered with textured white lace. The floor was hard wood with white and grey accent rugs and there was a sitting area with white Victorian furniture. She was like a princess being hugged by a cloud, curled up in bed with soft down pillows. 

Jodi thought back on the day surrounded by friends and family, the center of attention. It was nice to finally be in a quiet room with some privacy. She looked to the nightstand where a beautiful bouquet of red roses and an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne and two glasses sat. Jodi reached for the card. 

Welcome to the bridal suite at Fiorini Inn and Suites. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special day. As a token of our gratitude, please enjoy the complimentary bottle of champagne and bouquet of roses. Sincerely, Daniel Fiorini, Owner and Manager of Fiorini Inn and Suites.

Jodi placed the card back on the nightstand and looked up to the bathroom door, slightly ajar. She longed for her husband and was desperate for him to come to bed and hold her. The day’s events were so exhausting, and they would finally have some time alone to talk. The bathroom light shut off and Mark came walking out in his blue plaid boxers. He was just as handsome as the day they met. 

Mark climbed under the covers on the other side of the bed and their eyes truly met for the first time that day. Tears began forming behind Jodi’s eyes and Mark caressed her face, tears beginning to form in his eyes too. 

“Don’t cry, Sweetheart. We will get through this,” Mark said.

“What are we going to do Mark? What will we do?” Jodi asked as she looked to the children sleeping in the portable crib that maintenance had brought in earlier. “We have to figure this out.”

“Do you want to talk about the fire?” Mark asked as his fingers entwined Jodi’s.

Jodi remembered waking up to the smoke alarms and realizing the house was on fire. She shoved Mark to wake him and they rushed to grab the kids. They were a perfect team and instantly knew who was going to save which child. Jodi and Mark got down on the floor trying to stay below the smoke and crawled to the hallway. Jodi made her way to Fiona’s room while Mark crawled to their son’s room. She was happy to hear Fiona coughing and crying in her crib. She grabbed her youngest child as smoke filled the nursery. She thought they were trapped until she saw Mark outside the window holding their three-year-old son Max. It all happened so fast. Suddenly, the window was open, and Mark was pulling his wife and daughter to safety. 

“They think it was arson. Who would do that to us?” Jodi cried. 

“They don’t know for sure yet. They need to investigate. I don’t know why anyone would do that to someone,” Mark said. 

“I just can’t believe it happened,” Jodi said pulling the duvet up to her chin and putting her arm around her husband.

“It seems so far away, like a bad dream but here we are. It really happened. Thank God, we got the kids out. Thank God, we only lost THINGS,” he said to the ceiling. 

“I was so afraid. I thought I was going to lose you or my babies. Sprinkles,” Jodi said as a flame point Siamese jumped up on the bed. 

“You are lucky Dan loves us so much. I don’t think anyone else would have let you keep your cat in the best room in their hotel,” Mark said as he reached out to Sprinkles and stroked her back. 

“She’s part of the family. I’m just happy she got out on her own. I thought I was going to have to go back in and get her. The vet said she is perfectly healthy and he’s not charging us for the visit,” Jodi said as Sprinkles curled up next to her face on the pillow. 

“Do you think we should have kept the kids at the hospital over night?” Mark asked.

“No. The doctor said they were good to go. They might have a little sore throat for a day or two, but it was safe for them to leave. I wanted them with us. There is no way I was leaving them at the hospital and I had to get away from all the people. I love that everyone wants to help but I don’t like all the attention,” Jodi said.

“So, I talked to the insurance company. They said they can probably cut us a check in the morning for living expenses. We have a decent amount of money in savings. This could be a blessing in disguise. We keep talking about moving out West,” Mark suggested. 

“Ok, but what about your job? You might not be able to find something out there right away. It would be too hard to make such a big move,” Jodi said.

“Well, I was going to talk to you about it later when I knew for sure, but my boss is talking about opening another office in San Francisco. If he does, he wants me to go there and run it. I wasn’t going to consider it because I thought you would say it would be too hard to make such a big move with the kids, but I think we can do it,” Mark said hugging Jodi closer. 

“What about all the memories in our house?” Jodi asked.

“The house is gone. We always have those memories. Even if we rebuild, the house won’t be the same one we lived in. We have no material possessions. The fire department said we can go tomorrow after they secure the place and see if anything is salvageable, but it really doesn’t look like anything can be saved. We won’t need to rent a moving van or hire movers. We would be buying all new furniture anyway. We will be less than 30 minutes away from your sister. Actually, we could get a house close to your sister and I can commute to work,” Mark said.

“But it isn’t for sure? We shouldn’t be getting our hopes up for an idea your boss is tossing around,” Jodi said

“Actually, the idea is a plan that he really wants to do. All I have to do is say the word. If I say that we will relocate and I will run the new office, he will get it done. He was just there looking at a new space. I would get twenty thousand dollars more a year. We can make new memories. We can take the kids to the ocean. We can go to Disneyland. Dan said we can stay here for two weeks. That is all we need. The insurance will cover the rest of the mortgage with a little left over for us to use as a down payment on a new house. I guarantee your sister would let us stay with her temporarily until we buy a new house. We can start fresh,” Mark said hoping that Jodi would agree.

Jodi looked to her sleeping children and smiled. “That sounds like everything we ever wanted, and I really do miss my sister. She hasn’t even met Fiona yet. There’s more opportunity there. The weather is nicer. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise,” Jodi considered the possibility.

“So, is it settled? Are we moving?” Mark asked almost forgetting the trauma they had just experienced. 

“It’s settled,” Jodi said kissing her husband for the first time that day, “we’re moving.”

Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student