The anger boiled up inside, pressing, threatening to explode like an unpricked baked potato over a raging campfire. The speedometer needle raced past 100 mph as she maneuvered the black car through traffic on the freeway. She knew it was an accident, but his attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken would now cost them precious dollars they didn’t have.
Chloe pulled into the garage and stalked into the house. Bitter words that tasted of sulfur and acid bubbled in the back of her throat. Why couldn’t he have left well enough alone? Couldn’t he have found something else to do with his time rather than mess with a tiny little drip on the kitchen faucet?
When Sam looked up at her from opening the box that contained the $250 new chrome fixture he met her glowering stare with an angry look of his own before turning his back on her and continuing the repair. She had flared at him when he called to tell her what had happened. He had wanted her to come with him to choose the replacement but she had coldly informed him that she didn’t care and hung up.
Chloe started to speak but didn’t let the words get past her clenched teeth. Her heart thudded like the hooves of a hundred stampeding horses on hot asphalt. She opened an upper cabinet and slowly removed a plate. She walked out to the back porch and held the crockery high above her head, channeling all of her bitter words and hateful things she wanted to say into the helpless plate. Then SMASH! She flung it to the ground and watched it shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces.
She was in the garage when he found the remnants of her anger.
“Really?” he shouted, “Really?! You broke a plate?!!”
“Of all the childish things to do!”
“Well, now that it’s broken I suppose I’ll just have to buy new ones. That’s what we do around here.”
“You are a piece of work. You know that? A REAL piece of work. Why don’t you get your purse and leave. Just go.”
He turned on his heel and slammed the door as he walked back inside.
Chloe stood in the cold air absorbing the pain of his words. He had told her to leave. Years ago, when they had fought, she did. And when she finally came home he had told her that if she ever pulled a stunt like that again they were finished. Is that what they had come to? Is that what he wanted?
She opened the driver side door of her car, sat in the seat and cranked the engine. She put her foot on the brake and slid the gear selector into reverse. And then put it back in park. Chloe leaned forward, rested her arms on the steering wheel, put her head down and released a sob. What had she done?
The door to the garage opened. She heard Sam open the passenger door, slide in and close it. Chloe lifted her head and met Sam’s eyes.
“I’m truly sorry about breaking the faucet,” he said, “and I don’t want you to go anywhere.”
“No,” she said shaking her head, “I know you didn’t meant to. I just got so angry. I hate living paycheck to paycheck like this. I can’t stand that we don’t know where the money for a simple little home repair is going to come from. It’s so stressful. I shouldn’t have let it get to me so, but I did and I was going to say some horrible, hateful things to you. And I didn’t want to. So I broke that stupid plate instead.”
He reached out to stroke her hair.
“Darling,” she continued, “I love you so much and now I’m adding to your stress by letting you know how badly I’m handling this. But GOD… being broke sucks! And please understand that I don’t blame you. The stress just builds and builds until I want to explode.”
“I think you did,” he said with a smile.
Chloe sniffed and wiped her eyes.
“We’re almost through this,” Sam said, caressing her cheek, “we are so close. I know it’s hard and stressful, but in just a few months we’ll have some breathing room. Just hang in there darling.”
She smiled up at him with mascara-streaked eyes.
“Can I hand you your tools while you work?” she asked.
He nodded and kissed her forehead. They went into the house to face the future hand in hand.