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"Tiger"
by Peter Koronakos

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Kit Anderton

Screen Door

I was in the garden until the sky turned purple and I could no longer see. Filling my arms with chard and beets and onions, I walked to the house.  I opened the screen door with my elbows and when I released the door with my shoulders it fell the last few inches and made its familiar “Ka-chank”.

Dory looked at me as I passed into the kitchen and sighed, “Isn’t there a way you can keep that screen door from slamming?”

It didn’t bother me, but I knew it bothered her. It was one of the things we were stubborn about. A long standing contention in our otherwise peaceful life.

I put the vegetables in the sink, opened a beer and sat down with her on the couch, giving her forehead a nuzzle.

“Well, I’ll give you some choices” I said, knowing that the more choices she has, the slower she makes decisions.

“ I could take the screen door down, or... I could attach a stopper to the bottom that you’d have to remove to close it, or... I could put an inside lock on it so people couldn’t open it unless you let them in, or... I could attach a hydraulic spring that would close it slowly and gently but make it harder to open, or... I could attach a thick gasket to the doorframe to cushion it when it closed, or... I could install a series of pulleys and eye screws into the wall and ceiling rafter with a rope between the door and a barbell just a little heavier than the door that dropped slowly and softly onto a cushion next to the piano, or...”

Dory smiled. She liked my playful teasing.

“O.K., Tom, enough. Tell me more about the hydraulic spring.”

“I’m sure you’ve seen them. They‘re little shock absorbers attached to the top of the door and the top frame. When the door starts to close, the hydraulic fluid creates  pressure and the door closes slowly and softly.

I was already thinking of her Birthday next week. We were past the time when she expected anything romantic from me. I’ve done lots of these jobs through the years to make her life more comfortable and to show my affection.

So I don’t know why I was making the screen door the issue. I could have fixed it years ago.  But over those years, she had taken my signs of care for granted and it itched at me, the way the sound of that door irritated her. It wasn’t a big thing, but it was long standing, and I wasn’t going to fix the door until she showed me some gratitude. Not the obligatory “Thanks, Tom”, but a few days later saying something like, “Every time I run my hands under that new faucet, the warm water makes me think of you.”
                                   

I went to the kitchen for another beer, then thought better of it. The conversation didn’t need another beer. I sat back down with Dory.

Then I made a mistake.

I said, “Maybe I’ll fix it for your Birthday next week.”

She leapt off the couch. “Why does every birthday present have to be part of a negotiation? You’ve known for years how much this bothers me. Why can’t you fix the damn door and do something more romantic for my birthday?”

This was Dory’s way of saying, “We need to talk,”  her anger defining the tone of the conversation.

This time I came right back. “You want the damn door fixed and I want some damn appreciation.” I was more direct than I usually am.

She growled, “Now we’re getting right to it. I think I show you appreciation. I’m careful to thank you when you do something nice. What more do you want?”

I said, “I want to know how what I do for you makes you feel.” It wasn’t the clearest way to put it, but I meant it and I watched her face soften as she listened.

She said, “You’re right, Tom. We’re taking each other for granted and we’re not careful with the way we say things. When I say I want something more romantic, I’m not talking about things. For years now, when we’re getting ready to go to bed, you yawn, say ‘I’m going to bed, now’ and you’re asleep before I get there. For my birthday I wish you’d say, ‘I’d like to go to bed now and I’d like it if we went to bed together.’
.
So I did. And she did. When we woke the next morning we smiled at each other and stayed in bed.

Kit Anderton - I was born in San Francisco and spent many weekends and summers as a child on my grandparents’ property off Redwood Drive, riding horses through Scotts Valley before Highway 17 was built. I moved with my wife and 2 kids to that property in 1980 and founded Woodstove and Sun in 1982, running it until 2004 when I had 25 employees and 2 of them were brave enough to but it from me. I have written years of journals before joining Clifford and Dixie’s Writing Salon, where I’ve started to write stories that come from God knows where. Here’s one of them.

Salon Fiction
Kit Anderton
Jo-Ann Birch
Paola Bruni
Dixie Cox
Diane Craddock
Pat Charlotte Grayson
Clifford Henderson
Duke Houston
Helene Simkin Jara
Nancy Krusoe
Jory Post
D. L. Sansone
Jeanne Rosen Sofen

Morton Marcus Poetry Contest:
First Prize
Danusha Lameris

Morton Marcus Poetry Contest:
Runner-Up
Dane Cervine

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