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When We Were Young

Ariel was sitting on the couch watching some random television drama that was on, waiting patiently  for her husband to come home from work. He was late, as usual, and dinner was getting cold. Luckily, she learned to eat without him and today was no exception.

The clocked chimed, and Joe still hadn’t come home. She should have known he wasn’t coming home early, but she was hoping he would. She took her glass of water and took a sip as she swirled the liquid in the cup. Since the day they met, Joe and her were perfectly matched. They were a young couple, one that hadn’t seen much of life or love which made them fall into the romance of a fairytale even faster. He was her prince charming; loving, respectful, caring and trusting. Perfect, she thought. It wasn’t until later into the marriage that he began to change.

They say that marriage starts getting sour in the first couple years, she just didn’t know it would so bad. He had already gotten into a stable position at his law firm but he still had to fight to get the promotion he had been trying to get ever since he started. That took a toll on their marriage. Ariel was understanding though, being a housewife, but it was the little things that started getting to her; like missing their date nights and forgetting planned events. But she remained understanding.

“Honey?” she heard Joe say at the front door. She was surprised to have heard him enter the house.

“I’m in the living room,” she answered as she made her way towards him. “You’re late again.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. Work was piling up,” he said giving a loud sigh. “Did you eat, yet?”

She nodded. “Why don’t you take a shower so I can reheat dinner?”

“I ate earlier,” he said, taking off his coat. “I just really need to get back to this case. Walter was nice enough to let me work on it at home.”

“You’re still working?” she almost choked.

“I have to finish this last bit before I hand in the report to Walter. I figured if I can go home and do this, I might as well,” he said walking over to the dining room table. He cleared he table and started setting up his laptop. “You mind getting me some coffee?”

“What about your shower?” she asked, pointing to the upstairs.

“Not right now, I’m busy.”

Familiar words, she thought. Ariel had prepared a relaxing evening for the two of them, since he had been overworked lately, but that wasn’t going to happen. He was going to be working all night. Their fairytale had ended when he decided to give them a better future and it was costing her, her prince charming. Ironically, she got a lawyer instead.

His dinner was cold by the time she starting wrapping it up for his lunch tomorrow. If he couldn’t even spend a single dinner with her, she was going to at least spend some time with him so she brewed a large pot of coffee for the both of them. He called out to her, asking what was taking so long, but she held her tongue and just told him to be patient.

Joe was exhausted. Walter, his boss, had piled on another case at the last minute for him to finish. If he didn’t need the promotion, he would have asked someone to help him finish it for him, but since this promotion meant so much to him he decided he could handle the load. Flipping through the files he took another sigh and slammed it on the table.

This wasn’t just about getting more money, this was about giving his family a fighting chance. It might have cost him a bit of his marriage, but if it meant security, and financial stability, he figured he could make it up to her in the long run. He knew how much she loved him and that gave him a reason to take this risk. Ariel was taking longer than usual with the coffee. He shook his head and walked over to the kitchen with a pamphlet.

Ariel had poured two cups and placed them in a platter to take over to the dining room. She wanted to give him a nice presentation so he’d be touched. She even placed two chocolate pieces to add a bit of flavor into the mix. He’d appreciate that, she thought, given that he had a sweet tooth.

Joe looked at the pamphlet and thumbed through it’s thick pages as he walked towards the kitchen. “Ariel,” he called out.

“Almost there,” she yelled.

With her back facing him, Ariel had no idea he began approaching her. When she turned around, holding onto the plate with the hot coffee, she didn’t see Joe was walking towards her. Joe was the first to react. They were within inches away from each other.

“Ariel!” he yelled out, as they were about to collide.

Frightened by his sudden voice, Ariel retracted the plate and the coffee began to spill. Fearing it would burn Joe, she tilted the plate towards her and the hot liquid spilled on her chest. Her scream sent shivers down Joe’s spine. The plate and cups crashed onto the floor with a sharp noise. Panic ran across Ariel’s body as her skin became red. As fear ran through his body, Joe picked up his wife and took her upstairs to the bathroom.

Horrified that she would be scarred, Joe took Ariel in the bathtub and ran the shower head across her burning chest. She couldn’t stop crying, and the water failed to offer any relief from the burning sensation. The coffee was too hot and her skin was already starting to swell. Touching the area didn’t do anything but worsen her pain. Panicking at the side, Joe called the police and EMT’s arrived shortly afterward.

She was taken to the hospital, but went home shortly after getting examined. The burn wasn’t serious but she would have a scar that lined her chest for a while. The drive home was silent. Ariel couldn’t speak nor could Joe. When they finally got back, the damage was still there waiting for them. The spilled coffee was all over the floor, paper was thrown everywhere, and broken shards of the clay cups sprawled across.

Joe looked over at his wife and saw how calm she had become. He took her hand and brought it up to his lips. “Are you okay?”

She nodded and gave him a weak smile. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

This was his fault, he thought. If he had looked where he was going, this wouldn’t have happened. If he hadn’t scared her she wouldn’t have this scar. He needed to make it up to her somehow but he didn’t know how to heal a scar. Joe couldn’t help but hug her but he almost collapsed on her instead.

“Ah, Joe my chest!” she shouted, feeling her flesh burn from the friction.

“Sorry!” he cringed as he pulled away, looking at her chest. “I’m really sorry.”

Patting her chest a bit to calm the burn, Ariel gave him gentle slap on the arm to put him back at ease. “Go back to work. I’ll clean up. I’m okay, really.”

She rubbed his arm and smiled widely before walking into the kitchen to grab a mop and broom and began to clean up as if nothing had happened. He was amazed at how resilient she had become. He thought, this is the woman I was supposed to protect, the one I was supposed to take care of and I couldn’t even do something simple like that.

She had already began sweeping up the broken cups when Joe sudden embraced her from behind. Giving her a kiss on the shoulder, he took away her broom and carried her upstairs into their room. If he couldn’t give her a bit of security that day, he might as well ravage her till she felt loved again.

“What about work?” she asked as he placed her on the bed. “I thought you said it had to be done today?”

He kissed her, not really caring about anything but her at that moment. “Just tell me if you feel any pain okay?”

“But-”

“You know that I love you right?” he suddenly asked. “I don’t want anything to ever happen to you again.”

She smiled and brought her hand up to graze his chest. For the first time in months, they were beginning to be intimate again. It cost her a scar and some tears but when they got there, she was finally with her husband again. There time together wasn’t long though, because the day after, Joe got the short end of the stick when he hadn’t been able to do his paper work on time. He would have to suffer the consequences, but both Joe and Ariel felt their marriage begin to fall apart.

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