(Originally published on The Nervous Breakdown.)
She is engrossed in some sort of looming or woodworking that requires her to wear a bib.
He, in overalls with only one strap fastened, is hammering out a poem. Stuck, he can’t find something pleasing that rhymes with “endeavor.”
She suggests “forever.”
He whispers something under his breath, then raises it an octave and yelps.
She grabs a tambourine and starts shaking both it and her body to a beat only she can hear.
He puts his head in his hands.
She starts singing in French.
Hoping to impede the escalation, he starts a knock-knock joke.
She doesn’t ask who’s there.
In an effort to better understand each other, they switch shoes (clogs) and walk a mile in them.
He calls their roadie “Spanish” (he likes paella) and tells him there’s a problem. Spanish asks if he’s used up his per diem and, if not, to put it towards some of her favorite tea. He also reminds him to keep the line of communication going and not to blame but rather to phrase grievances by saying, “When you ____ it makes me feel ____.”
They decide to retreat to their cabin in the woods. They always find peace there and, with hope, their way back to each other.
They hopscotch out to their 1979 Peugot Coupe and make the journey.
They arrive and decide to have tea, and while they’re at it read their tea leaves, when he notices, “We’re out of almond milk…”
And goes on to remind her that he “…can’t Darjeeling (the verb) without it.”
She apologizes, she used the last of it during their previous stay.
With that batch of homemade muesli.
And forgot to replenish.
Which starts the second wave of their fight.
“You never anticipate,” he tells her.
“Anticipation clogs my creativity,” she says.
Exhausted, they take a nap, spooning back to back. He, belly out, forms a sort of parenthesis protecting her while she lays perfectly still in a fetal position.
Then they switch.
They continue this tenuous truce while watching a four-hour hockey match on TV. Neither of their teams win.
Starving, they make preparations for supper.
The sound of the knife cutting Comte cheese against the wooden cutting board creates a harmonic convergence with the glug glug glug of the lime water being poured into mason jars from the carafe that just moments earlier had been cooling outside, cradled by snow in a makeshift “ice box.”
He goes to his keyboard synthesizer and starts a backbeat.
She takes a marionette and starts swirling around with it, a sort of dance.
He picks up his guitar, fumbles around with a few chords before landing on that particular one, the one that’s supposedly the saddest — is it D minor? — and lets it sustain for an excruciating amount of time…
…until it’s impossible for her not to meet his eye.
They run toward each other,
and all is forgiven.