By Nik Markevicius
When Tim discovered he was fresh out of drywall anchors, he squatted down and rummaged two shelves lower for the oversized toothpaste tube with the yellow and blue stripes. Pain and exhaustion put him in an uncomplicated mood: fix the trouble, go back to bed. He arose and turned around.
Kristen stood in her bathrobe at the threshold between garage and mudroom. Air hissed through her teeth. A chemical ice pack smothered a bruise above her bleary eyes.
Tim swallowed a dozen nasty words behind a growing scowl. He concentrated on breathing until he felt less poisonous. “Do you want to get back to sleep or not?”
He watched Kristen lay the stink-eye on him and thought, See? “Husband” really is a synonym for “can’t win.”
“You know I do, babe, but — ”
“Then let me fix it.”
She eyeballed the extra-strength construction adhesive in his hand. “That’s not gonna work.”
“You try that on everything! It never works.”
This time Tim huffed out loud. He made a show of raising the tube so the instructions came level to his face; meanwhile Kristen made her own show of folding her arms and arching her eyebrows.
“Says here you can glue anything to anything with this stuff.”
“Yeah, but my curtains need to be anchored into wall studs or else-”
“Nah. They just need a permanent solution.”
“It’s gonna take chunks of drywall when it falls.”
Tim’s kettle of anger bubbled over. “We’ve gotta be up in four hours. I can sleep whenever, however. You’re the one who’s gotta sleep like a vampire.”
“That’s not the point here-”
“The point? The point?” He couldn’t help yelling. “Twenty minutes ago, the point was, ‘It’s gotta go back up.’ Last night the point was, ‘Look at these blackout drapes I bought, they’ve gotta go up right now.’ And now the point has yet again changed.” He chuckled without feeling a shred of humor. “Enough. I’m taking care of the point.” He approached Kristen and the problem beyond.
She stopped him with a palm to the chest. “You never let me finish.” Pools of tears trembled beneath her eyes.
Tim looked at her, their heights even thanks to the four-inch riser between mudroom and garage. His lower lip throbbed from the impact of a fallen curtain rod, although the real pain came from his mind. Here they went again with Kristen changing the subject when things weren’t going her way. Did he drive down that road? Did he dare ignore it?
And honestly, in the middle of a rough night, did it matter?
“That’s not the point, either.” He slid free, already loosening the cap on his glue.
Nik V. Markevicius is a half-crazy wordslinger who lives and breathes all those weird little what-ifs most people dismiss out of hand. He is the author of 8 novels and counting, a collection of flash fiction entitled Thong-Sized Stories, the novella Head, numerous short stories, and the upcoming Enchanted Forest State Forest novels. Not only does he hear the little voices in his head, he argues with them.