Wallpaper

 A piece of “Flash Fiction“… 

It is said that wallpaper can make or break a relationship. Just look at what happened on that TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond, when Ray’s mother backed the car through the front of his house. Ray was quite unperturbed by the whole situation until he noticed the new wallpaper did not match the existing wallpaper. Then he freaked out.

For Maddie and Elliott it wasn’t wallpaper. It was a desk.

“I would like to mention, yet again, that I would be happy to burn this project – literally – and go buy a desk that is pre-made and delivered by people other than us.”

Maddie glared at her husband. “And I would like to point out, yet again, that burning our money – literally – is not how we are ever going to afford that trip to Europe that you’ve been blathering on about for the past year.”

“You mean,” Elliott grunted out as he tried to fix the leg that had gotten angled into the wood screw wrong and now seemed to be stuck, at risk of splitting if moved with too much force, “the trip I suggested because you kept insisting we needed time away? That one?”

“Yes, the one that I said could just be at a cabin or a beach and didn’t need to be some elaborate overseas tour.”

“Let’s talk about something else.”

“Or perhaps we shouldn’t talk at all.”

Elliott seemed to like this idea as he did not respond and continued to wrangle with the stuck leg.

But Maddie could not follow her own advice. “Isn’t that why you want the minute-by-minute planned European tour? So that we won’t have time to talk to each other?”

Elliott did not reply, nor did he even look up at her as he grabbed a flathead screwdriver to help twist and pry the desk leg out of its current position. As he maneuvered the tool underneath the leg where it was angled awkwardly against the desktop and began to leverage it out, he winced as the first split appeared.

Cursing loudly, he threw the screwdriver down in disgust.

He took a deep breath. “Haven’t we always had time to talk? Why do we need to go someplace else to talk?”

“If we’ve always had time to talk, why don’t we do it?”

“If ‘getting away’ really only means scheduling time to talk, we should just spend $200 on a hotel room for a night. That’d be a whole lot cheaper and make a whole lot more sense.”

Maddie nervously shoved desk parts about as she searched for ‘Part F’ that would hook up with ‘Part G’. “Fine.”

“Fine, what?”

“Let’s go to a hotel room.”

Elliott’s voice tightened as he said, “Great.  I wonder if you know of one that usually has openings at the last minute, in the middle of the day?”

Maddie froze at the question and the implication in his tone. She raised her eyes to look at him and saw a steely gaze in return, an accurate accusation.

His eyes moved back to the desk leg, and she watched as he only paused a moment before he leaned back, lifted his foot up and in one swift kick, freed it from its position with a startling crack.

As Maddie watched him storm out of the room afterwards, she thought longingly of wallpaper.

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