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Don’t do it!
Wisdom called to Tina like a patient friend, and other relevant sayings joined the chorus: “Two wrongs don’t make a right. Be the bigger person. Kill him with kindness.” She knew she should relent. Her mind ran through a host of reasons why her current intentions would only make things worse. But she was seething.
He’d erased all twenty-two episodes of her Judge Judy.
And he’d done it on purpose.
Tina shifted on the couch and took steady aim at the DVR list. Damien wanted to see this football game as bad as she’d wanted to catch up on her favorite court show. She sharpened her anger with the memory of how nonchalant he’d been when she’d confronted him.
His “yeah, so?” was like an audible smirk over the phone line.
Yeah so this! Tina bit her bottom lip, squinted her eyes, and pressed delete. She’d timed it so perfectly that when Damien walked in seconds later, the remote was still pointed at the TV like a smoking gun.
“Hey babe.” Damien passed through the kitchen and frowned at the clean stove. “No dinner?”
If she’d had any guilt about what she’d just done, it grew wings and flew away.
“Sorry, no dinner,” she said with a broad smile.
He approached her in his delivery blues, his thin lips making a valiant effort to form a pout. Before he spoke, the notice plastered across the sixty-five inch screen caught his attention: No Entries.
“What did you do?!” He snatched the remote and began shaking it, pushing random buttons like there was a magic formula to bringing his game back.
“What?” Tina rounded her eyes and lifted her brows.
“I didn’t even watch that game yet, Tina!”
“Well, I didn’t watch my shows either. You didn’t have a problem deleting those did you?” Her eyes retreated into slits and she sat back with her arms crossing her chest. She could tell by the heat rising up her neck that her light face was turning the color of a pomegranate.
“Your shows? This is about your stupid judge shows?” Damien threw the remote on the floor by her socked feet. “Those shows air a million times a week. I’ve been avoiding phone calls and TV’s all day waiting to watch that game. And you erase it over some dumb show?”
No, it wasn’t just the shows. It was everything about their four-month-old marriage. She was tired of him walking in asking about dinner. How about asking how her day went? She was sick of seeing the laundry pile up, with his only contribution being to pluck out his necessary pieces and ask her to iron them.
They both worked full-time jobs, but somehow she came home and had yet more work to do while he had none. He was a modern-day Ralph Kramden, and it was about time he found out she was no Alice. She’d had enough.
Tina picked up the remote and held her head high while Damien continued his rant. His dark face turned even darker as he gained momentum. She stole glances at him and wondered if he was really as handsome as she’d imagined when she was walking down the aisle. With his top lip curling in a half snarl and his eyes bucked like that, she wasn’t sure.
She turned to the game show channel. Not being a fan of Jeopardy didn’t stop her from calling out answers like she’d been watching it all her life. “What is hickory!”
“Oh, you’re just gonna ignore me now, huh?” Damien said.
“What are the Rocky Mountains!”
Damien walked over to the TV and pulled out the plug, then held the cord with a triumphant grin before he dropped it to the floor like a strangled pet. Tina’s mouth fell open, and she barely had time to close it again before Damien stalked back, took the remote, and went to the room, slamming and locking the door.
Tina stayed on the couch. Her stomach growled, and she regretted not having had the foresight to at least fix herself something to eat.
No food. No TV. She was becoming a victim of her own plot.
She huffed a sigh and went to knock on the door.
“Give me back the remote!” she demanded.
Damien turned up whatever he was watching.
Tina balled her fist and shook it in the air. She’d started this fight, if he thought he would win he had another thing coming. She grabbed a flashlight and pushed open the sliding glass door to the backyard, then walked around the pool to the side of the house.
Frogs croaked a conversation in the cool night air, and Tina felt like a mission impossible agent as she opened the breaker box and shined her light on the labeled switches.
She pulled one and looked at the window where Damien had run like a fox to his hole. Nothing happened.
“Not that one,” Tina muttered to herself. She pulled another switch. “Not that one either.”
Before she pulled the third, she remembered some of the verses her sister had shared with her about marriage. Something about a soft answer turning away wrath, a virtuous wife doing her husband no wrong, and wives being submissive to their husbands as to the Lord.
The last verse was like a dagger in the heart, but she pulled it out and patched it over with excuses. She was new at the whole Christian thing, there had to be some kind of concession for rookies.
She pulled the next switch and, voila, the lights went out in bad-husband-land. Ha! Tina danced a little jig all the way back into the house.
Just as she slid the heavy glass back into place and pulled the blinds, Damien came storming from the bedroom.
“Are you crazy?” The smile on her face must’ve convinced him she was. “You’re certifiable Tina! Who thinks to go outside and cut the power off from the breaker. Did I really marry a crazy person? Unbelievable!”
He slammed the blinds back out of the way, bending one in the process, and stomped outside.
Crazy, huh? Tina waited until she saw his figure approaching, then slid the door closed and locked it. “Yeah, I’m crazy!” she said through the glass. “Crazy for marrying you!”
The joy of outwitting him lasted only a moment. Wisdom was back in her ear again. She couldn’t really leave him out there. She waited for him to ask just once then let him back in.
Damien entered without speaking and went directly to their room, and Tina returned to her couch post in front of the remoteless TV.
He owed her an apology. And this time she would stand her ground until she got it.
“Hey,” Damien said. Tina looked up and found him standing near the edge of the couch. ”Can you come set the alarm?”
Her alarm clock was a complex piece of technology, one Damien hadn’t bothered to figure out since he had Tina to work it for him. But there was no apology in his question. His posture and tone made it clear he was speaking on a needs-basis only.
“No,” she said.
“Then how am I supposed to wake up for work in the morning?”
“Sounds like a personal problem.”
“Fine!” he said through clenched teeth. “I’ll set it myself.”
“Imagine that,” Tina called after him. There were only two ways he could figure out that clock. And the first, the manual, was long gone. She waited with a smug grin on her face for him to come tramping back with her apology and needing her help.
Instead, several minutes later, it was her clock that came flying down the hall, followed by a final door slam.
She refused to credit him with the victory, even though she ended up on the couch with a decorative throw as her blanket. She set the alarm on her cell phone and forced herself to sleep.
When Damien came home the next day, Tina tensed herself for round two.
“Hey,” he said when he walked into the kitchen from the garage.
“Hey,” she responded with a guarded heart.
He piled a series of bags on the counter. Tina smelled the scent of Chinese before noticing the Panda Express logos. If she wasn’t mistaken, there was enough food for both of them.
Damien opened a separate sack and pulled out a rectangle box. He sat it on the counter, then busied himself with grabbing plates and drinks for their dinner.
Tina looked at the box and burst out laughing. It was the most generic alarm clock her eyes had ever seen. Damien laughed too, then walked up and put his arms around her.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Me too,” Tina said.
And just like that, being newlyweds was once again a good thing.