All I Wanted

I almost killed him. And I could have done it. I’ve got a hundr… sixty pounds on the little twerp. His big blue eyes were locked onto me until I couldn’t take it anymore.

“What are you looking at Thane?”

His little smile was the kind of evil that is so far from good it doesn’t even know that it’s evil.

“Mrs. Owens, your arms jiggle like the Jell-O mom makes for Halloween. I like Jell-O!”

What would the sentence be for killing a five year old? Life in prison certainly, but would they give me the chair? When I pictured the jury filled with women in their thirties I almost convinced myself I could get away with it. But then I remembered that it wasn’t him I wanted to kill.

“Thane…” Deep breath. Don’t say what you’re thinking. “Go draw a pumpkin.”

He bounded away like a puppy that had just finished chewing through a new pair of pumps with no thought of the amazing sale they came from.

The fight from this morning filled my mind again for the hundredth time. I hated being a woman on days like these. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry and kill him at the same time! How could he be such and idiot? A stupid, stubborn, immature idiot!

The sudden chorus of gasps made me realize that my inner dialogue had not been quite as inner as I thought it was. The last thing I needed today was parents asking where their children had learned some new words. I had only one option. Distract them quickly.

“Okay class… Who wants to play a game?”

Cheers rang out and the disaster was averted.

I offered up a quick thank you to whoever invented Heads-up Seven-up and promised myself not to think about our fight anymore. Then I promised myself again after I called Julie a lucky girl when she said there were no boys in her house. And again after Claire’s dad asked what she would be learning tomorrow. Apparently, “Why men are still unevolved” was not an acceptable response. The dismissal bell rang and as the students pushed their way out of the classroom I could not help but think of how much the sound reminded me of the start of a boxing match.

Without the prying eyes of the children I spent the rest of my afternoon stomping around the classroom preparing tomorrow’s lessons while practicing my lines so that I could prove what a jerk he was. I left a little before 4:30 because getting stuck in traffic was the last thing I needed. That would give me enough time to get home before him, put on some music, take a warm bath, and sharpen my nails.

Traffic was light and my plan seemed to be perfect until I pulled up to the house and saw his white Chevy in the driveway. Of course he would take away the one thing that would make me feel better! I parked next to his truck and considered “accidently” throwing open my door too hard, but that would just end up hurting my Lola as well. Grrrrrr. Just more fuel for the fire.

I walked up the front walk consumed by everything I was about to unleash on him when I stopped dead in my tracks. Taped to the front door was a note. I ripped it off and unfolded it with a huff.

“I’m sorry that I let my passion get the best of me and turn a discussion into an argument.”

Well at least he had been thinking about it too, but if he thought that one little note would make up for everything he had said then he was in for a big surprise. I opened the door to see a trail of ruby rose petals leading towards the kitchen. Hmmm. Maybe he did more than just think about it. This was not what I wanted. I wanted blood. I wanted to make him feel the way he made me feel all day. But what choice did I have now?

I followed the trail to find a single rose lying across our counter with another note underneath. He was just trying to get out of trouble. I could not resist lifting the rose to my nose and letting the sweet aroma fill my lungs before picking up the next note.

“I’m sorry for making you feel like I cared more about being right than about you.”

I tried to hold on to my anger, but I could feel it slipping away like water through my fingers. Another trail of petals led to the living room where I found another rose and note.

“I’m sorry that it took me so long to say I’m sorry.”

Jerk! I had spent my whole day building up a tidal wave of frustration and anger to unleash on him, but now I stood here clutching the notes and roses with all the rage of a squirt gun. Well if a squirt gun was all I had, then I was going to get him right in the eye before he could take that away from me too.

My feet followed the roses down the hallway and to our bedroom. I stood in front of the door letting every possible situation play out in my mind before reaching for the handle. Having built up my defenses, I swung the door open.

He sat on the edge of our bed looking down at the beige carpet. In his hands he held a dozen more roses. They were as white as snow. My favorite. He looked up and met my gaze with those soft hazel eyes that first drew me to him three years ago. As he started talking he stood and walked toward me.

“I hate fighting with you. It takes all the color out of my world. I’m sorry for all of it. But mostly I’m sorry that I was too foolish to see that what I was doing made you lose your smile. No argument is worth that to me.”

I took the roses from his outstretched hand and dropped them on the floor. I dropped the notes and roses from the kitchen and living room on top of them. Shock filled his face until I leaned forward and rested my head against his beautiful heart. He wrapped me in his strong arms and kissed the top of my head. All day long I had prepared myself for battle. In that moment I could not believe how foolish I had been. This was all I wanted.

Copyright © 2012 Adam Drake

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17 comments

  1. Love the line about the puppy with the pumps! You have a lot of really great one liners in here. The school bell being a reminder of the start of a fight, love it.

  2. Part of me is begrudging the concession a little. Grr! I like to hold my grudges. But as usual, you melted my heart, Adam. You write the sweetest things, and it’s true that deep inside, all I really want is the safety inside that hug.

  3. I liked how this story showed how a person goes from anger to forgiveness. It did seem like the story took the path of least resistance with the over-the-top gestures and conciliatory notes by the guy. Would their interaction have been different if the story were longer?

    1. Oh yes. I think it would have played out much differently if it had been longer. The idea started with the layered apology and worked backwards from there. That is one of the things that can be difficult about the boundaries that a short story creates. Thanks for the feedback. I love it and you always leave me thinking about good stuff.

      1. Haha, run, run, as fast as you can! You really nailed that whole “No, don’t be nice, I want to be mad at you!” thing.

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