I watched in horror as the masked gunmen broke down the door and let loose. Covering my ears I witnessed the ensuing massacre as blood spattered in high definition on my family room wall.
"Can we please watch something less violent?" I complained loudly.
Without a word he switched the channel to the local news. Within a few minutes I was disgusted again. "Good grief! This is just as bad."
I scooped up a stack of magazines and stomped into the living room for some peace. He switched back to the gunmen.
I heard the TV click off and he came and sat next to me. "What'cha lookin at?" he mumbled.
"Stuff" I responded curtly.
"Hmmm… I'm going to bed." He wrapped an arm around me and gave me a squeeze. "Good night love." He kissed my cheek.
"Night." I didn't bother looking up from the pictures of France on my lap.
I heard him go up the stairs followed by the usual going-to-bed sounds. The TV in our room clicked on, too loud.
An hour or so later I headed up too. I slipped into bed beside him. He shifted, rolled over and wrapped his arms around me. I snuggled into them and drifted off. It was the habit born of more than thirty years of marriage. Regardless of our days, these were our nights.
In the morning by the time I stumbled down the stairs he was gone. I began the usual routine, coffee, clean up the kitchen, pick up the odd misplaced item, and read the paper. Next step, off to the shower. I stepped out, dried off and glared at myself in the mirror. "What's wrong with you?" I asked my reflection.
It didn't reply audibly. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that picture screamed at me. Age didn't treat me as kindly as it did him. His laugh lines were my wrinkles. His extra weight was minimal, mine was fat. His new chest hair was welcome. I frowned.
On our twenty-fifth anniversary I'd realized I had put on twenty-five pounds. That's when I changed my portions and cooking. I hadn't lost any of it, but staved off any new weight. He looked more handsome on that day than our wedding. The silver edges in his hair, his eyes sparkling, and his still perfect smile warm and welcoming.
I squinted at my mirror to assess further damage. I put on the glasses sitting on the counter to get a better look. "Of course," I grumbled, "Even the readers look cute on him. Why do they make me look old?" Of course he wasn't perfect. Talking to him required either raising my voice or repeating myself, which I found incredibly annoying. And it was that one thing I had focused on lately. "Why are you such a grouch?" I asked myself.
I dressed and contemplated which of the exciting tasks I would accomplish next. Laundry? Shop for those few essentials? Watch a game show rerun? Oh, the choices were endless. The doorbell interrupted my internal sarcastic ponderings, and gave me something different to do. Answer the door.
The young man offered me a box and a smile. I gave him a couple dollars. I opened the box. Inside were nine roses, three pink, three white and three red. I smiled.
I cut the stems under running water, added the flower food and arranged them in a vase. The first time he gave me roses was the same. He told me it was because three was lucky. Over time I began to see his point. It was the third time he asked me out that I said yes. The third house we lived in that became our home. We even had three sons.
I smiled thinking about our life together. It hadn't been easy but it was good. We fought often in the earlier years, mostly about the kids, money, or some combination of the two. Lately we didn't have those concerns, the boys were grown and on their own, and we were comfortable.
I chose shopping.
"Celia" his voice echoed in the empty kitchen. He expected me to be there, as I was every day. I giggled. I heard him go up and down the stairs calling my name. Finally he noticed the back door was unlocked.
"Celia, its freezing, what are you doing out here?" He wrapped his arms around my shivering shoulders.
"Making dinner." I smiled at him.
"You're grilling in February?" he sounded concerned, but I laughed.
"Yes dear, go inside, I'm almost done."
The table was set, with flowers in the center, candles on both sides, and plates in our usual places, next to each other. I loaded the table with his favorite foods, including barbeque chicken legs fresh off the grill.
"Thanks love" he grinned like a little boy and dug in. I watched him eat and got up occasionally to get an extra napkin or refresh his drink. He watched me enjoying him, his eyes twinkling.
We cleaned up together and watched poker on TV. Something we could agree on. "I'm going to bed," he announced.
"Okay, I'll be right there." I shut off a few lights and followed him up. He wrapped his arms around me and I snuggled in, but then rolled over.
I kissed his ear and whispered. "Happy Anniversary."
"Happy Anniversary love."
"Do you think we'll make it another 34 years?" I asked
"Of course we will," he replied gently "Why wouldn't we?"
"Well," I hesitated, thinking of the mirror, "We're not as young as we were."
"Yes we are," he grinned at me and squeezed me tight.
"We are?" I asked, then mischievously added "Prove it."
And he did.