76. It was their first vacation together in years. Meg and Oscar had been running their own jewelry business for years. They made a nice income, but they were busy all the time. They went to one trade show after another, flying throughout the U.S. and often to China and other countries. Their last vacation was at least ten years ago. Recently, Oscar's doctor said that Oscar's high blood pressure was going to be the death of him. After questioning Oscar about his eating and exercise habits, he concluded that Oscar was stressing himself out at work. He told Oscar that he needed to stop and smell the roses more often.
"In short," he said, "I'm writing you a prescription for two weeks of R&R—rest and relaxation, immediately. In fact, I want you to take off four weeks a year, and these must be nonworking vacations. No cell phone, no laptop. Do you understand me? In case you don't, I'm telling Meg, too. You might not listen to me, but you will listen to her."
Meg canceled all their activities for the two weeks at the end of July. Fortunately, they did not have any flights scheduled. She booked them a nice hotel near Palm Springs. "We'll catch up on our magazines, newspapers, and TV reruns," she told Oscar. "We won't even talk about work for two weeks, okay? We'll relax in the pool, get massages, and treat ourselves like royalty. Got it?"
"Yes, ma'am," Oscar said, smiling as he saluted her.
The hotel had failed to tell them that it was undergoing renovations. But when it offered everything at half price, Meg and Oscar stayed. The second morning, about 10, Oscar told Meg he was going to take a swim. She told him not to forget his sun block. She went back to sleep. When she woke up at noon, she put on her swimsuit and went outside.
She couldn't stop screaming when she saw Oscar submerged beneath the water. His foot had gotten caught in a suction vent that workers had not covered properly. He had been under water for ten minutes.
A month after the funeral, back home, Meg was going through her mail. The hotel, apparently worried about a lawsuit, had sent her an offer to stay there free for a month. The congenial letter suggested that she "Bring a friend!"
5.1, 78.8, 2%, 11.6, 397
Vocabulary: apparently beneath block cancel congenial flight funeral habit jewelry laptop lawsuit ma'am massage prescription pressure relaxation royalty salute scream stress submerge suction trade treat vacation vent PLUS after book business busy case catch death fact foot half listen nice other phone rerun rose run short stay swim ten water
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