Novels Upper-intermediate

Sink or Swim by Andy Cowle

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Sink or Swim by Andy Cowle

Leaning on the rail at the stern of the cruise ship Parvina, sipping his champagne, Eddie Munro looked out across the water and into the darkness. There was a warm, gentle breeze, and the sea was calm except for the dizzy trail of water churned up by the ship’s angry propellers. It was a beautiful evening and there was no one else on deck. Eddie liked it that way.

He looked down at his watch, which showed 10.31 p.m., and the ship was already half a mile from the harbour. He was amazed that such a huge cruise ship could move so fast – he was amazed it stayed afloat at all! He watched St Thomas island getting further and further away. He stared at the silhouette of the island, at its faint black shapes of hills rising up into the night sky. Eddie smiled to himself as he noticed he could no longer see where the lights ended and the stars began.

He finished his champagne and, for good luck, threw the glass far out into the sea. He never heard it drop. He couldn’t see much at all in the warm Caribbean darkness, but he noticed for the first time how high up he was. The sea was a long, long way down, he thought.

Sink or Swim by Andy Cowle

At this point his wife, Lynn, came out looking for him, wearing her long black evening dress and the silk purple scarf she had bought on the excursion earlier in the day. Her hair was dark and short with plum-coloured highlights.

He turned to put his arm around her as she joined him. He noticed her perfume, a powerful and luxurious scent.

“Hello,” he said, turning round. “You smell nice. And you look lovely. Are you married?”

“Yes, thank you. To a very wealthy man, so you have no chance,” she said, smiling.

“Ah. But so am I.”

“Ah, so you’re married to a wealthy man, are you?”

“I mean I’m wealthy. Very rich, in fact.”

“Well aren’t you the lucky one,” Lynn said.

“Yes, so if you’re lucky, I might buy you dinner,” said Eddie, turning back to look out to sea once more.

“Well, lucky me. How can I refuse such charm?” She looked at him and took hold of his hand. She smiled and stared out into the night, too, to the island which was now even further away…

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