Her shoulders fell. Dammit, she thought.
Dug was totally oblivious to her peril as she sloshed across the living room to the kitchen, searching for a safe place to put her briefcase and papers. Once she’d unloaded on the kitchen table, she turned and stared at the mess.
Now what? she thought. This crap always happens when I’m alone. She frowned at the dark hardwood floors glistening at her through a thin layer of water, fighting tears. She took out her phone and snapped a picture of the mess.
This is what I came home to, she texted to Gary.
While she was going for the mop and bucket, he answered her. What happened?
Fish tank sprung a leak. All the fish are dead. :-(
Oh no! I’m so sorry I’m not there to help! That stinks honey! There were a lot of fish in there!
I know. She didn’t know what else to say to him. She was frustrated and upset. She had work to do, and didn’t have time to be cleaning water off the floor, let alone taking care of proper fish disposal.
It was slow work. Eventually, Dug settled down at the edge of the living room, after Molly repeatedly discouraged him from getting on the couch while he was wet. Sally simply watched from the safety of the stairs.
It took Molly all evening to get enough water off the floor to start drying it with towels. She just hoped the hardwood wasn’t ruined, not to mention the baseboards and drywall.
Once she had towels spread all over the floor, Gary texted her again. How’s it going?
She responded with another picture. It looked like a mess.
Gary, trying to be encouraging, said, It’s coming along!
By the time she turned her attention to the dripping tank, she was exhausted. She unceremoniously gathered the fish with the net into a plastic bowl and flushed them, feeling like she should have said a few words or something. But she was so irritated and tired by then she couldn’t come up with anything except, “thanks for ruining my night.”
It was nearly eleven o’clock by the time she went upstairs to get showered and ready for bed. Her entire evening was wasted. She didn’t get any of her papers read, and the students were expecting their grades tomorrow. Plus she had a headache from crying, which hadn’t even made her feel better. She rolled her eyes as she climbed into the shower, trying to wash the last four hours of irritation away. Steam filled the bathroom and she sat on the shower floor until the water turned cold.
It was midnight by the time she’d brushed her teeth, dried her hair and climbed into bed. Exhausted, she mustered the energy for a quick call to Gary.
“Hey,” he said when he answered.
“So, you had an exciting evening.”
She ran her fingers through Dug’s fur absentmindedly. “Yup.”
“Didja get it all cleaned up?”
“For the most part. I can’t get the tank out of there though. You’ll have to help me with it.”
“I might be able to patch it.”
“Uh…” She hesitated. How could she express her feelings about cleaning up another mess without slighting her husband’s ability? “We’ll have to talk about that when you get home. How was your day?” She hoped a change in subject would mask the potential for insult.
“Fine. Uneventful. The passengers were late in Atlanta, so we missed lunch, thinking they were going to show up any minute. Then, because they were late, we didn’t get to eat dinner until like seven. It was obnoxious.” Gary often missed meals waiting for people. They had snacks on the airplane they could eat, so he wouldn’t starve, but peanut butter M&Ms are still a far cry from a meal when you’re hungry.
“Oh, I’m sorry, babe. Where to tomorrow?”
“Just Orlando. It’s a one-leg kind of day, which is fine by me.”
She yawned. “That sounds good.”
“OK, I’ll let you get some sleep. Meeting in the lobby at seven tomorrow morning, so I should start heading in that direction too.”
“OK, love you honey.”
“Love you too. Talk to you tomorrow, and see you in five days!”
She smiled. “Five days! Night babe.”
“Night.” He hung up.
She put the phone on the nightstand and snuggled down into the covers. Five days, she thought as she drifted off to sleep with Dug by her side, and Sally purring softly on her pillow.
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Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary
Rating – PG13 (some strong language)