She had pulled eight or ten tiles up by wedging the toe of her gold sandal under their sharp edges.

"I just don't think it will be very hard," she told him, pushing a lock of blond hair out of her eye and smoothing it behind her ear with the back of her forefinger.

He looked down and across the patio, noting the places where the tiles were loose or chipped.  They had been this way since they had bought the house about three years ago.

"You don't."

It wasn't so much a question as a stall.  This was not their first conversation of this sort and he knew where it was heading. Still in his work clothes, he put his hands on his hips and pushed at a tile with the stiff leather of his loafer.

"I don't." She went on, "You can hear how loose they are when you walk across it." She looked up at him, squinting into the sun. "I mean, it doesn't require a rare skill, just a little muscle.  We can totally do it." She could see she did not have him yet.  "Sometimes I look at jobs like this and think, 'If someone can do it I can do it.'"

"You do."

"I do."

So they began that weekend.  She did wedge and pop the tiles that could be wedged and popped, which were surprisingly far fewer than she had supposed.  She slung the sledgehammer and though she could see the patio jump, the tiles did not spring loose quite as easily as she had imagined they would.  She was right that it was a job made more of muscle than skill, but not her muscles, honed though they were.    He soldiered on without her and she felt guilty for getting him into this spot.  It made it worse that he neither complained nor blamed.  Still, she was pleased that the project moved forward as she had planned.

Labels: ,