Prompt: “I can’t believe she said that!”
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“I can’t believe she said that,” I scrubbed a bit harder at the kool aid stain I’d been working on, happy that I’d decided to wear my painting clothes for today’s clean up – no worries about bleach from the soft scrub that speckled my guns n roses t.
“I’m not sure why you’re surprised,” Matthew was pawing through the candy dish. Somehow I was not irritated. It always went that way; he and I would agree on a workday and we would both show up, but only one of us would do the working, usually me, while the other of us basically served as “good company” for the other. Trying hard not to think about the last time I had occupied the “good company” role, I tossed my sponge into the sink and soaked a piece of an old towl with cold water.
“I guess you’re right,” I said, “Meryl has been nothing but a drama queen from the day she first stepped foot into the church.” I scowled as the lather I’d worked up came away to reveal a stain as bright as ever it was before I’d started my scrubbing.
“Leave it,” Matthew said, with a lazy wave of the hand. “The counter is clean, and that’s what matters. We’re going to be replacing it one of these days, anyway.”
“Oh, you plan on winning the lottery this week, or something?” I teased, but inside it felt more like a poke than a tease. I knew Matthew wouldn’t pick up on it. It would be something I’d have to repent for, later.
“Can’t win if you don’t play,” he shrugged. “Truth is, I picked up a bit of sidework. I think it could lead to something pretty steady.”
“Really?” It came out less surprised and more excited, just as I hoped it would. “That’s great. What’s the gig?”
“That couple who had me put in sod last spring?”
“Well, they’ve asked me to come and do a bit of painting for them.”
“Oh. Is there drywall involved?”
“A bit. Nothing I can’t handle.”
I wanted to say, “we’ve discussed this – drywall’s not your thing.” I wanted to ask, “what’s going to happen when they realize you’re neither equipped nor capable for the task?” Instead, I redirected the discussion as I moved the toaster aside so I could wipe underneath it.
“Anyway, Meryl is stirring the pot again, and as usual, it’s up to me to make things right.
Matthew picked up the toaster and removed the crumb catcher, dumping most of the contents into the garbage, but allowing a considerable helping to fall onto the kitchen floor, as well.
I managed not to sigh.
“I don’t see why you don’t just kick her out.”
“Kick her out? Of Women’s Group? Yeah, right.”
“Women’s Group is open to any woman in the church, Matt. And I’m only one person on the board. I don’t have that sort of unilateral decision-making power.”
“Can’t you like, vote her out, or something?” He slid the tray back into the bottom of the ancient appliance and set it down on the counter opposite of me. He plugged it in, giving it a sort of satisfactory pat, as though identifying this placement as the toaster’s new home.
My face grew warm as I slid the cutting board aside and moved the breadbox out of the way to wipe there. Putting the toaster back later would be no big deal, but if he moved both of these items as well, I’d lose it.
“It doesn’t work that way,” I said, calmly, while the sound of my rapidly beating heart thrummed in my ears.
“I don’t know how you do it,” he said, shaking his head and folding his arms as he turned to lean against the counter.
“To be honest, I’m not sure, either,” I said, and snapped the counter with the towel.
“I think that’s all I’m going to do today.”
“Yeah,” he said, “I’ve had enough of this. Let’s go catch some Netflix.”