Fish Tank

He had waited all day for her return. Every hour that had ticked by felt like an array of missed opportunities to finish the project he’d been trying to complete for over a week.

It was a long day at work. She was desperate to just sit on the couch and do nothing. The drive was stressful but her podcast aided as a distraction from the mind-numbing 40 minutes from work. In the back of her mind, she knew that another errand awaited upon her return. She needed to turn in a pen pal letter for a program sponsored by the college she attended.

She had finally returned just a tad later than usual. He had expected this to happen due to the fact that she  filled up on gas before the long drive home. Upon walking through the door, she was happily greeted with a booming “Hello!” He had been dutifully waiting, filling his time with minor tasks to keep busy.

Together, they quickly turned in the letter as he discussed his ideas for his project. Her stomach rumbled during the ride as she tried to feed herself with pumpkin seeds that had been left in the car. They spoke of their day and spouted ideas for dinner with the ingredients they could salvage from the fridge. Dinner didn’t come before she was called to assist him on his project.

“What are we doing?” She asked, hoping it would be easy, ideally taking less than a half hour. She wasn’t sure if the pumpkin seeds would hold off her hunger for long.

“I need you to trickle water on the back glass of the aquarium while I drill holes in it. Trust me, if I could do it myself I would. I love you!” He coaxed, knowing that she would be less than thrilled to do this. Her height made it difficult to reach so he had provided a chair for her to stand on. The only way it could worked was when she arched her back, leaning over the tank while resting her arm uncomfortably on the side. It dug in, temporarily tattooing a deep line as the minutes rolled by. The drill had created a piercing sound that made the upstairs neighbors bang on their floors in a weak attempt to cease the noise.

Frustration had broken as the tedious work caused conflict between them.  A lover’s spat.

Then, after watching the drill mercilessly wind itself into the glass for what felt like hours, he smiled. The circular piece of glass gave way and had fallen back behind the aquarium. Though this wasn’t the end…. There still needed to be a matching hole on the opposite side.

Their determination and mutual irritation had pushed them to work together, concentrating even more than before. What they had done in 40 minutes on the first try, took only about 15 to 20 on the second.

Her help was done. She had felt solace knowing that one; it was done, and two; he was happy. It had felt good to be needed, it  had felt good to help, even through the mild bickering.

He was relieved that the glass had not cracked due to the incessant drilling. Now, he was finally going to be able to finish what he had started. Once he got the freshwater aquarium up and running, he could have the fun of picking out fish (he was thinking Discus) and to also decorate it with rock and driftwood.

For the rest of the night he fiddled with it, as she sat on the couch eating tuna salad with bow tie pasta and roasted red peppers. Occasionally, she would hear him stress obscenities under his breath, but he had a knack for making his mistakes work to his advantage.

She looked up from her computer as the night started to tug at her eyelids and saw him working diligently, passionately, thinking to herself how much she loved him.

At that moment. he looked up from the aquarium to turn and say, “Baby? I love you.”

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