She despised the way he made cookies, baking them until the edges were a dark, crinkly brown.
And he left his mess in the kitchen Without Fail.
She hated coming into the bathroom at bedtime and finding the lid off the toothpaste and the tube hassled at the top, as if he’d wrung it to death trying to get the last bit out when the bottom part bulged with paste.
But the smelly socks were the last straw. He’d whip them off his feet before his shower and toss them over his shoulder. She’d find them three weeks later in the oddest places – behind the headboard, balanced atop a ceiling fan blade. And he always complained about their room smelling bad.
She’d say, “Why do you think it smells that way? I’m not the one throwing my socks around the room.”
He’d say, “It’s not my socks’ fault.”
And she’d say, “You’d better believe it’s your socks’ fault.”
On a Tuesday in spring, she sat at the kitchen table with a mug of hot coffee in front of her. Even coffee irritated her. All she could think of was how he’d dump half a cup of sugar into one mug of it. She couldn’t stand that.
She tapped her fingernails on the mug’s ceramic surface and contemplated divorce.
Because maybe – no, probably! – her life would be better without all these petty annoyances. She’d find a partner who’d know the proper way to bake a cookie, the considerate method of extracting toothpaste from a tube, and the purpose of a clothes hamper.
And she wanted someone who respected coffee, for heaven’s sake.
What had her sister Shari said just last week? “Sometimes you just know when it’s over.” She’d been talking about her job, but that was beside the point.
The lock in the door clicked.
Her eyes darted to the clock. It was barely three o’clock. There was no way he’d be home so early.
She sprang up. “You’re home already?”
He smiled, just as his arm swung out from behind his back. He held out a bouquet of roses. “They’re scentsations,” he said. “Smell ‘em.”
She could smell them, all right. From across the kitchen.
Each blossom was white, but veined in red. He’d brought her a whole bunch of them.
“Here, I’ll get a vase,” she stammered.
“You sit down,” he said. “Enjoy your coffee. I’ll get the vase.”
She lowered herself back into her seat and watched him. He trimmed the ends of the roses neatly in the sink before lowering them into water. Then he crossed the kitchen and set them down on the table in front of her.
“Enjoy,” he said.
When he smiled, she saw the boy she loved.
And she remembered that the way he made his coffee had once endeared him to her. And his stinky socks. At one time she’d said he just needed a woman’s care.
She took hold of the handle of her coffee mug. Joyously.
This week's story was inspired by Shari with her words coffee, roses, and joyously. Thanks for the inspiration, Shari! If you'd like to provide inspiration for a future story, click here.