They had planned the brief vacation months ago, sitting down with their work schedules, appointment books, and calendars. It had taken them more than an hour to coordinate their schedules, but the pay-off was worth it—a glorious and well-deserved four-day weekend.
It had been a beautiful day that Wednesday, cold but sunny and the sky clear blue. Unbeknown to Carrie, Darci had taken an additional day off from work so that she could surprise her with a nice romantic evening to kick off the long weekend.
She got up that morning barely able to contain her excitement. She floated on air as she pretended to get ready for work, going over in her head all the things she wanted to do as soon as she was alone. Carrie, however, was in yet another one of her foul moods. Those moods were easy to spot: muttered curses under her breath, slammed kitchen cabinets, stomping through the house, cups banged on the counter.
“What’s wrong?” Darci asked as Carrie charged like a bull from one task to another.
Yeah, well, everyone knows when a woman says nothing is wrong, something is definitely wrong and you are usually the cause or, at the very least, responsible for fixing it.
Darci was used to taking the blame for Carrie’s irritation and taking on the responsibility of making it right—if there was a right.
She took a deep breath and asked the question Carrie was waiting to hear, “Have I done something wrong?”
“What do you think?” she spits through clenched teeth.
“I think I must’ve done something to piss you off.” Again.
Carrie jammed papers into her work bag. “You know, I’ve never seen someone so freaking lazy, expecting me to do everything around here.”
“What?” She took a long look around the tiny house. She could see nothing out of place, nothing dirty or dusty. “What is it I haven’t done?”
“You’re a smart woman. Figure it out!”
Darci’s mouth hung open and her eyes followed Carrie’s angry exit from the room. Her mind raced. What was it that she hadn’t done? She had swept and mopped all the floors and dusted every surface yesterday after work. The day before that she’d scrubbed the bathroom and the kitchen. Sunday, she’d straightened the bedroom closet and inside the drawers of two dressers and changed the sheets on their bed.
The only thing inside that house that hadn’t been done was the laundry and Carrie oversaw that chore. According to her, Darci didn’t have a clue how to do laundry. Clothes had to be sorted and washed according to the weight of the fabric rather than by color or type. This, as per her logic, ensured that each piece came out of the dryer perfectly dried without being overly dried. Carrie saw it as a waste of time and energy to put something back in the dryer for a few minutes because it was still damp. Once dried, she’d pull one piece at a time from the dryer then turn the dryer back on to make sure nothing wrinkled while she hung it on a hanger or folded it. Every movement meticulously choreographed to not expend any unnecessary effort or energy.
Carrie’s method, of course, had its flaws. When those flaws resulted in Darci’s white panties or pastel-yellow slacks being splatter painted in red, blue, and / or black splotches, Carrie thought it was funny. Darci had always tried to take her partner’s gaffes in stride and would assure her that it was no big deal even as her heart sank to the pit of her stomach when her favorite slacks or blouses were thrown away. She’d been angry and hurt and wanted to shout, I told you so, but didn’t—wouldn’t—because she hadn’t wanted to make Carrie feel bad for making a mistake. It was just a small mistake. And it was just clothing, right? It wasn’t as if it couldn’t be easily replaced.
Too bad the same couldn’t be said for Carrie. Darci had apparently made a mistake and now she was being punished for it. The only problem was that she had no clue what mistake she had made this time.
She continued with her normal morning routine. It really was a routine—she did the same thing, in the same order, taking about the same amount of time. Darci began this habit of not deviating so that she didn’t forget to do something; so that she didn’t anger Carrie. This morning was no different, was it? She went over it all in her head. Had she skipped a step? Had Carrie asked her to do something that she had forgotten about?
She had gotten out of bed the moment the first alarm went off. The second alarm was in half an hour, for when Carrie would awaken. She went to the thermostat and kicked up the heat so that the house was warm when Carrie got out of bed. She’d made a pot of coffee and fixed herself a cup, put Carrie’s mug, two sweetener packets, and a teaspoon beside the coffee maker. She’d taken her shower and slipped on a robe. Drying her hair had to wait until after Carrie was awake because the sound of the hairdryer disturbed her sleep. She had packed her work bag then transferred meat for dinner (tonight there would be a couple of ribeye steaks she planned to grill) to the refrigerator to thaw. She’d washed her coffee mug and placed it upside down on the drying mat. She brushed her teeth then walked the half-acre length of gravel driveway to get the morning newspaper. She’d checked the bird-feeder and added another cup of seed, then swept the front porch and shook out the doormat. By the time she had made it back into the warm house, Carrie was awake and she had dried her hair while Carrie was in the shower. Then she’d sat at the kitchen table to apply her makeup. That was where Carrie found her that morning.
So, what had she forgotten? It was the exact same thing, in exactly same order that she had done every morning for several months.
She finished her makeup and headed to the bedroom. She selected dark blue slacks, white long sleeve shirt, and a pale blue pullover sweater and hung them on the outside of the closet door. She began her daily task of making the bed when Carrie came barreling into the room.
“Well, it’s about damn time,” she said.
Carrie huffed and pointed at the bed. “That,” she said.
She was still confused. “What? Making the bed? I always make the bed after I do my makeup.”
But she hadn’t really heard her. Instead, Carrie went on about how lazy she was and how she had left the bed unmade, expecting her to do it like she expected her to do everything else around the house like the sweeping, mopping, and dishes.
“Really? When was the last time you mopped the floor?” Darci asked.
Darci waited for an answer that wouldn’t come. She hadn’t swept or mopped the floor since Darci moved in and they both knew that.
“Doesn’t matter. The point is, you didn’t make the bed this morning,” she says instead of answering.
“I am making the bed.”
“No. You make the bed right after I get up.”
“You’re always to make the bed right after I get up.”
“So, what I am hearing is that you want me to change when I make the bed,” she said, using keywords and phrases she learned from her friend who was a licensed counselor.
She couldn’t help it. She let anger, frustration, and sarcasm wrap themselves around her words. “Then all you had to do was ask instead of creating a scene.”
Carrie huffed, puffed, and muttered the rest of the morning before finally leaving the house. Darci stood in the living room window and watched her drive off, tires spinning gravel as she went. She didn’t so much as breath until the car turned right out of the driveway and disappeared.
She put her dress clothes away and grabbed jeans and a sweatshirt and prepared to transform the kitchen and living room into visual romance even though her heart was no longer in it. Her excitement and joy were gone. She had awakened that morning with her heart overflowing with love and the desire to express that love. But, now? Now, what she really wanted to do was douse the house in gasoline and set it ablaze. She wouldn’t, but that didn’t stop her from thinking about it.
That evening, Darci had everything timed perfectly. Carrie would arrive home at 5:30 to be greeted with roses. At 5:35, Darci would pour two glasses of fine red wine. At 5:40, the baked potatoes with all the fixings, fresh garden salad, and two medium-rare ribeye steaks would be served on a table with a white lace tablecloth, red cloth napkins, and a red tapered candle in the center. After dinner, she would send Carrie to the living room while she cleaned the kitchen. She would then join her in the living room where they would watch a romantic comedy or two before retiring to the bedroom where there were more candles to be lit and soft music to be played.
But 5:30 came and went. So did 6:30, 7:30, and 8:00. She called Carrie’s cell phone every half hour leaving the same message each time. “Hi, honey, it’s me. Where are you? I’m getting worried. Call me.” All her calls and messages went unanswered. At 8:30, she put the uneaten dinner away, blew out all the candles, and erased even the hint of a romantic evening.
She climbed into bed at 11:00, alone and heartbroken.