The furious cry broke his gaze from the computer, and from his current activity. Concentration shattered, he craned his neck a bit at his wife’s insistence on bellowing when speaking would suffice.
“No need to yell, dear, what’s up?”
Her face appeared around the corner. “I’ve called you three times!”
He frowned a soft frownsmile, head atilt. “I’m sorry, you know I get concentrating on this: what’s up?”
He had been diligently, almost religiously laboring on this project for months now, and it was finally nearing completion. The finishing touches were coming together, and he was just a bit giddier every time he turned on his computer. The end was drawing near, he knew it, felt it. A story was being woven the equal of which he had never seen before, a wistful exuberant tale of warriors and romance and valor and ferocity and nobility and everything that made man not-too-horrible sometimes.
“I just need your help in here real quick with this laundry, please! I’m ready to go to bed.”
It was past his nostrils, a puff out snuff out sigh escaping even as Logan’s warden mind tried to stop it.
And she heard it.
“Really?!” The incredulity was viscous and muddy in every slugging word. “It’s all over the bed, and I know this is the arrangement we made but would it kill you to just get off your ass for two minutes and come help without sighing?!”
He grunted as he got up. He had been quite an athlete in his younger days, but now had adopted a much more sedentary lifestyle. He did almost nothing to compensate, because he slept very little and his energy was always low.
“I know you are working on…that thing in there,” incredulity now conquered by vehemence, detest, “but I am really ready to go to bed.”
Logan was already folding the clothes. “I heard you! I am already helping you!”
It was never sufficient to merely let the obvious be obvious for the Perrys.
“And ‘that thing’ as you call it is very important to me. I need it. I understand it isn’t my work but it is the only thing that keeps me sane. Since I am helping you with what is essentially your job here, would you mind having a little bit of understanding about that?”
Her face could have startled tigers.
“I cannot believe you said that. My job? My job?!”
He was already backpedalling, his downcast gaze and head shaking signaling retreat. This was terrible ground to be upon, bloody ground, losing ground. “I’m sorry, that came out wrong, that’s not what i meant at all. Work just rattles me and I need time to be able to cope, and this is my mechanism for doing that. It is important, for me as well as for you.”
Primarily, his only time to work on his latest endeavor was at night, after she had gone to bed. Evenings after work were mostly comprised of dinner and its aftermath: she cooking while he sat in the living room reading or watching TV, they eating while spacing out to the evening news or sitcoms, she sitting on the floor in the living room and he on the couch, then role reversal as he did the dishes and she sat upon the couch patrolling the internet for clothes and books and cooking ideas. Then showers, separate, one at a time, she first, always, since she liked it hot and he didn’t care too much, then by the time he was done she was usually ready for bed. This was his only time to work on his project, his very personal project, and though it was only a hobby now, it was nearing completion and the sense of accomplishment afterwards would be profound, exhilarating, grandiose. He hadn’t been to bed with her in months.
“How the hell is it important for me?!” She was seizing full opportunity during his retreat to advance and gain territory.
“It helps me to release stress, and stress, when it builds up, is what causes me to lose my temper whenever you start acting like a petulant child, as you are now!” He was proud of that improvisation. A true feint: appear to be retreating, yet lie in ambush, and when the enemy becomes overconfident and makes a tactical mistake, attack.
Anger changed to resentment tinged with sadness. Those he could handle. They were more predictable, more regular. He was used to those, to deflecting them. His walls were made to withstand their mortars. “Fine. Go work on your crap. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He left with fake-betrayed eyes, feigning martyrdom, stung by her crass inconsideration. Bang. End Game. Victory: Logan.
She shut the door behind him, none too gently. Freedom, for one more night, to pursue his true interest: the new longing of his heart.
He turned his computer back on, picked up the controller, hit the “pause” button and resumed play right where he had left off. He would play the RPG for hours that night, hours that felt like glorious days and yet sadly, too, only minutes. He would play long long long after his wife was asleep, dreaming her dreams of elsewhere.
Author’s note: My marriage is not like this. Not anymore. Praise the Lord. But there were times when it was, and could be again if i am not on guard against petulance and entitlement. i suppose this fiction is a backwards way of apologizing for such behavior, but i feel i have been a bit childish lately and i don’t want our relationship to dissolve back into this kind of nonsense.
P.S. Video games are the devil. 😉