Laurie strolled into the home improvement store with her bag slung over her shoulder, the sun in her hair, and paint on her mind.
“I’ll meet you back here.” Her husband, Steve, grabbed a cart and disappeared.
It was almost Valentine’s Day. Paper hearts, emblazoned with power drills—a modern day Cupid’s arrow—twisted lazily from strings taped to the ceiling, and cheap chocolate hearts screamed male desperation from the end cap of every register.
"Aisle seven," said the wholesome looking lad with the apron…and aisle seven it was.
Row after row of colors beckoned in waves of gradient hues. Laurie’s fingers traipsed across the smooth little papers, loitering at the blues, lingering when they shifted to green. She pushed her hair back behind her ear and checked for any watching clerks. She knew they were free, but still…
Alone in the aisle, her teeth worrying her bottom lip, she grasped three strips of promise and pressed them deep into her bag. She would add them to her collection at home.
They’d been talking about remodeling the master bath for years. Laurie thought longingly about the jetted tubs just a few aisles away. Their bath was a conglomeration of the 1970’s gold and a late 1980’s peach remodel gone wrong. But they were waiting for now. Laurie sighed, maybe next year the bathroom would get tackled.
Finished with his shopping, Steve watched his wife from the end of the aisle. She was pocketing far too many paint samples—they were free, but he was pretty sure they hadn’t planned on her level of enthusiasm. She was completely engrossed in a color pamphlet, gazing longingly pictures of modern day bathrooms, when a fellow brother in pain walked by, nodding sympathetically.
Steve ducked back around to the next aisle and shot off a text message to his buddy Abe at Degnan Design Builders.
“Are you ready to go?” Laurie surprised him.
“Sure am. Did you get the colors you think you’ll like?”
“Yep.” She patted her swollen bag.
“Know what? Let’s take a look at the tubs while we’re here.”
Laurie shot him a surprised look. Steve ignored it, relishing the idea of catching her off guard.
Still watching him, she looped her arm through his as they walked past the cash registers on the way to the plumbing department.
Steve smiled to himself, thinking about all the poor guys out there who would be grabbing the last minute waxy chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day. This year he’d get her exactly what she wanted: a new bathroom, with a new tub to sit in while she thumbed through the constantly growing stack of color brochures...planning what to do with the kitchen.