“Pete! Put the kettle on!” Analise screeched from the front room.
Pete hobbled to the counter, mumbling, “Ah, ya hag. Get up and get it yourself.”
“You say something?”
He rolled his eyes. “No, dearest. You heard the pump, that’s all.” Once the water was at a boil, he let it go for an extra minute to get it extra-hot, the way Analise hated. He smiled as he dressed the tray with saccharin, lemon, and buttermilk—all the fillers he knew she disliked. He shakily brought the tray out to her, at which point she immediately wrinkled her nose.
“What in the sad universe is this, ya git? I only ask for tea every evening, figgerin’ it’s the least you could do for your one and only wife, the one who has cared for you since before the war, who raised your offspring, and who’s darned your socks for the last 50 years.” Analise shouted as she rattled her bones into the kitchen to dress the tray properly.
Carl and Beatrice sat on their couch in the apartment next to Pete and Analise; they’d been neighbors for the last 10 years and had listened to the back-and-forth every day. Carl looked over the top of his evening paper and smiled at Beatrice as she did her last few needlepoint stitches. She felt his stare and smiled back. “Dearest,” she said quietly, “please don’t let us get like that.”
Carl put down his paper to look fully at his wife. “Like what, love?”
“Like Pete and Analise; you know, like oil and water.”
“Never, my sweet; never.”
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