My spatula moved the ground chuck from its brown side to its pink one. A sizzle spattered in response to the meat laying its vulnerable rawness against the skillet’s heat. The steady flame of the burner blazed, oblivious to the goings-on overhead. Everything else in the kitchen maintained its dignified countenance, never letting on that my Epimetheus was about to knock the top off the box.
On the window ledge, tentacles of the aloe plant spilled over the edges of its planter. They oozed and crept toward the counter below and the window sash above. Its assertiveness gave its campaign to overtake the kitchen credibility. If I take this point of view – that my beloved’s clumsiness arose out of fear – I can forgive his actions.
As it was, when he snatched the aloe plant, leaving the windowsill bare, and whisked it through the room, its tentacles waving and grasping, anger straightened my posture. The scrape of my spatula silenced. “Where are you going with my plant?” I snapped.
He encouraged me to trust him, to put away my worry. He was simply going to take it out back and cut it down to size.
When I gasped and said, “Put my plant back,” he refused. This was not a request. It was an order. He assured me, “I’ll throw the excess on the compost pile.” Normally, plying me with putting organic matter on my compost pile can supplant any ill feelings with joy and satisfaction.
“Put my plant back,” I said.
“No,” he answered. “It needs this. I can’t look at it anymore.”
There is nothing worse than a man wanting to waste half of a perfectly good plant on a compost pile when there are a thousand other household tasks he could be doing. I could list off 10 – brown the ground beef, raise four children and save my plant – before sundown. Surely he could tackle just one. The blistering stream of verbal rebukes arrived in his realm unexpectedly.
He stopped. He put the plant down. He explained that he meant it no harm. He accused me of overreacting. I accused him of misplaced commanded, “Put my plant back.”
His irritation matched my fury as he escorted the vile, verdant monster back to its spot in the kitchen window. “You really need to think about how you’re acting,” he told me.
“I haven’t done anything but mind my own business,” I retorted. “My plant is my business.” The man retreated, but not without comment on my disposition.
As he went, Third Eye Blind singing “I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend” blasted from my Pandora station. When retrospect rounded out my pinhole perspective of the horizon,
I conceded I’d led my Epimetheus to the ledge and stood there with him.
Then my husband came back holding two pictures and asking, “What’s the significance of these? They’re ugly.”
I stepped away and allowed him to have the ledge to himself.
Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books. She lives in Thomson. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.