Serene gathered her courage and pulled the knot a little bit tighter on the top of her polka-dotted bikini. She nodded decisively at her reflection and left the bathroom, slapping the light switch on her way out.
She paused dramatically at the top of the staircase, pointing her left foot and bending her knee.
“How do I look?” She called downstairs, startling her husband.
“What?” He rounded the corner and let out a wolf whistle. “You look…so good in that.” He smiled broadly. “I can’t wait for our vacation now,” he said, winking, as he climbed the stairs to wrap his arms around her.
Happy anniversary, sweet pie, I love you!
I think it all started with the possum.
Our yard backed up on actual nature, so naturally, we had a lot of wildlife show up in our yard. Raccoons, possums, even deer. And so I made friends with them. Polly was a possum that came to see me the most; she would even hop on my shoulder, and when she did, I would give her a kiss. Well, I’d let her give me a kiss.
Patrick hated that. He would spend hours ranting and raving about rabies. I didn’t care, of course. I knew Polly was fine. It got to the point where I let her kiss me just to spite Patrick. This was one of those times.
He screamed and yelled at me. I have no idea why he had to do that. I mean, he hated me by then anyway. I don’t know why he didn’t realized he would have been better off had he just watched me get bitten and contract rabies, or make friends with an armadillo and end up with leprosy. At that, I’m lucky that I never did get Lyme disease. There were so many ticks in our yard. I can’t stand ticks. So disgusting.
Anyway, Patrick screamed. And that day he did something he’d never done before: he threw coffee in my face. Fortunately, Patrick is a little bitch who drinks coffee with so much milk in it that it’s barely lukewarm by the time it gets to his shitty little mouth, so it didn’t physically hurt me. But only physically. I swore to him that if anything like that ever happened again in our lives together, he would lose an integral part of himself.
Yeah, I stay up nights thinking of threats to hit him with. In my room. Which is separate from his room. You may ask why, if things are so miserable, if our marriage is so miserable, if we’re both so miserable, why we stay together. This was the first and last day that I actually asked myself that question. I know it’s hard for someone outside the situation to understand, but I promise, it’s different when it’s your life and your marriage.
For us, those vows that we promised in front of our whole family, in front of the masses of our friends who had assembled for the sole purpose of hearing us speak those vows, well, that meant a little more than it apparently does to the average person. For me. I know the vows meant more to me.
I’ve finally realized that it was always and only me. Just me. Patrick never cared enough to start divorce proceedings. He never cared about anything. He never cared about the vows, or the marriage, or me. He only ever cared about himself. I married the most selfish man I have ever met.
But I‘m getting ahead of myself right now.
I’m trying to tell you about the possum, and how one wild possum ended my marriage.
The possum that never gave me rabies.
The possum led to harsh words, the harsh words led to coffee being thrown, the coffee led to threats, the threats led to anger, the anger led to pain, and the pain led to divorce.
Patrick took his empty coffee cup, and he put it in the sink, without saying a single solitary word. Then he turned around and he picked up his briefcase from the table next to the front door, the place where he always kept it, and he opened the door and left, slamming it shut behind him. I faintly heard his car start in the driveway, followed by the sound of his tires screaming against the road as he left in furious anger.
“Hon, the dishwasher’s on the fritz again. I jiggled the tube like last time, but that didn’t work. Can you take a look at it when you get a chance?” Meredith asked her husband Ron.
Ron was busy watching Top Gear, but he absently nodded and tossed another peanut into his open mouth. “Sure thing.”
Two days later, Meredith groaned as she reached to open the dishwasher and realize that Ron hadn’t gotten around to it yet. “Ron, the dishwasher?” Her tone meant now, and Ron knew it.
He didn’t even grumble as he capped his jar of peanuts and walked into the kitchen.
“Thanks, babe,” said Meredith, on her way out of the room.
Ron grunted an unintelligible response as he leaned down and opened the cabinet underneath the sink to have a look. He tried jiggling the tube, in spite of Meredith’s assurance that she had done so, but she was right, that didn’t work this time. He checked to make sure all of the connections were secure; they were.
He crawled out from under the cabinet and slid over a bit to open the dishwasher and check inside. Fortunately, Meredith had emptied the dirties and washed them by hand, so he fiddled a bit with the sprayer before sitting back and cocking his head.
“What’s it doing, Mere?” he asked.
“Not cleaning. I think the heating element is out, because the dishes get wet, but they’re cold when it shuts off,” she replied.
“Hmm,” said Ron. He closed the dishwasher and looked at the settings. All good. This was turning out to be more work than he expected.
Ron got up and grabbed a tool bag from the hall closet. When he got back to the kitchen, he unscrewed the dishwasher from the countertop and pulled it out of its cubbyhole. There was a slightly crimped wire sticking out of the back, unattached to anything. Ron assumed this was the likely culprit, so he quite intelligently unplugged the dishwasher before touching the wire.
It seemed to have come loose from a small connection, so after a quick once-over, Ron got out the soldering iron and stuck the poor little wire where he thought it went. He plugged the machine back in and switched it on. After a few seconds he opened the door to check, and sure enough, the water was warm as toast. He pushed the whole thing back into place, replaced the screws, wiped his hands on his pants, and called it a day.
The next evening Meredith was scooping them each a bowl of ice cream after cleaning up the dinner dishes. When she turned to drop the ice cream scoop in the sink, she noticed a funny smell, and an awful lot of steam coming from the dishwasher.
“Hon, I thought you said the dishwasher was fixed,” she called toward the living room, one eye on the ever-increasing steam bath rising to the ceiling.
“Yeah, it should be good to go. I thought you already started a load, anyway,” Ron replied.
Meredith bit the bullet and cautiously opened the dishwasher mid-cycle. The handle was extremely hot.
“Hon, what I actually need to do is wash the dishes, not fire them like they’re in a kiln. My grandmother’s plates are browned at the edges,” she said.
Ron knew that the rest of the week would not be a pleasant one. He spent the rest of the evening searching the internet for a plumber with a good review and reasonable rates.
Meredith eventually got over the loss of her heirloom china, and things were back to normal in the household when the thermostat went out five weeks later.
Since Ron had installed that one six years earlier, Meredith didn’t have a problem with him replacing it. What she didn’t know was that Ron found an extra wire in the wall that he didn’t bother mentioning.
The truth came out when she heard a noise in the middle of the night. Suspecting the cat had gotten into something he wasn’t supposed to get into, she flipped on the hall light and noticed an odd glow coming from the bathroom. It didn’t really register, though, as the cat was merrily destroying her knitting basket.
She took the basket away from him and headed back to bed, but on her way, she noticed a suspicious warmth coming from under the bathroom door.
“Hon? Did you leave the sunlamp on in the bathroom again?” she asked Ron.
He didn’t wake enough to answer her question, so she just flipped the switch and went back to bed.
The next morning they woke drenched in sweat. The thermostat wasn’t fixed, Meredith noted with a grimace.
“Must have been a faulty one,” said Ron. “I’ll take it back and swap it out after work.”
Meredith turned the hall light on to get a better look at the thermostat. “You jerk, it’s on heat, and in July, for crying out loud!”
Ron was in the bathroom, and suddenly remembered the extra wire. He looked up, and sure enough, even though he hadn’t turned it on, the sunlamp was beaming down on him.
He sheepishly called to Meredith.”I think I know what the problem is. But the upside is when we turn on the the hall lights, the sun lamp comes on.”
“I’m going to stay with my sister until this house is air conditioned,” Meredith sighed, and went to pack a bag.
Meredith’s sister Tabitha was used to Ron’s shenanigans, and had plenty of stories of her own to share.
“Do you remember when we had that sinkhole at the old house? That was directly Nathan’s fault,” she told Meredith.
“No! I can’t believe you never told me this one before! What happened?” Meredith was dying to hear it.
“Okay, Have you seen that infomercial where they flush all the burritos?” Tabitha asked. Meredith nodded. “Nathan put that new toilet in the guest bathroom and wanted to give it a shot. That man brought home three packages of frozen burritos and threw them right in without thawing them first. Not that I would have been okay with that, but you know, put some thought into it, right?”
Meredith was already shaking with laughter.
“Anyway, of course they got stuck. Of course, right? And we had to open up the entire basement to take care of it.”
“I’m so glad Ron hasn’t tried to flush golf balls or burritos!” Meredith laughed.
“Oh, no,” said Tabitha. “That’s not the end of it. He left a bag of something in the basement. He still won’t tell me what it was. But he poured concrete over it for the new floor, and then, about two months later, his sister was visiting. You know Amber was five then, and smart as a whip.”
“She’s just like us when we were that age,” Meredith interjected.
“I know!” Tabitha agreed. “Anyway, the floor had cracked right in half the day before she got there, and it was all Amber could talk about, until her aunt got there. She started drawing pictures of the horrible basement floor!”
Meredith was loving this story. “Seriously? And you never told me this!”
“I know, I know. So Nathan’s sister is mystified by these drawings of what looks like black lightning. Amber got her artistic talent from me, unfortunately. She finally asks what Amber’s been drawing all day. My daughter politely smiled and told her embarrassed aunt, ‘That’s OK. We’ll just say it was inspired by a massive earthquake.’ “
I highly recommend you check out today’s prompt at The Blog Propellant. Very entertaining basis for it.