My Valentine: Part 3

My parents had tried to warn me about those ‘fixer-upper-type homes’. First it was chiseling off the laminate backsplash in the kitchen, then painting the cabinets. Now, I had gotten the bright idea to cover the pink laminate counters with faux concrete. As always, Mark was game.

After dusting the entire house, running the vacuum nonstop, and a week of work, the counters were finally ready for sealing.

“You can’t use the stove, Mark,” I said one day in passing. “The sealant needs 72 hours before it’s cured.”

“Got it,” Mark said, nodding.

It was no more than five hours later that I saw the stain– greasy splotches all over my beautiful concrete counters and right by the stove. I screamed and scrubbed the stains with a rag, pleading for them to lift. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” I kept saying.

“What’s wrong?” Mark said, turning into the kitchen.

“The counters,” I cried. “Did you use the stove?!”

He pulled back, a sheepish expression covering his features. “Well, yeah… why?”

“Why? The counters! I told you not to use the stove.”

Mark lifted his hands, warding me away. “Now wait a second. You said not to use the counter for three more days.”

“Mark!” I dropped my face in my hands. “I said not to use the stove.” Tears slipped down my cheeks. The exhaustion of the week caught up to me, the physical and emotional toll finally making itself known.

“Don’t worry. I can fix this. It’s easy. I’ll just do another layer of concrete. Don’t cry. It’s going to be just fine,” he said, darting toward the back door.

He spent the afternoon trying to patch over the stain, but nothing worked. It only got worse and grew to the size of a beach ball. I became an emotional (possibly PMSing) mess. I forgot how much better our kitchen looked than before. I forgot how much fun we’d had DIYing together.

I spent the next week grumbling each time I passed the stain. My perfect counters were blemished, and it could have been avoided! If only Mark had paid attention to me. I stewed, and I stewed, until it got to the point where I would bring the counter up in any marital conversation about communication. “You have to listen to me. Remember the counter?

Two months later.

“Let’s just finish the grout tonight,” I plead. We were so close.

“I’m too tired,” he said. “Let’s finish in the morning. We’ve got all day tomorrow.”

I huffed. “Maaaaarrrrk.”

Then I saw his eyes, his bloodshot and puffy eyes. He had worked all day cutting and laying the backsplash. What right did I have to ask for more? I had only stood around critiquing– “A little to the left”, “that edge isn’t straight”, blah blah blah.

“Go to bed, Sweetheart. I’ll finish up the grout myself.”

“By yourself? Are you sure you can do that?” he asked, sniffling. The family cold had caught up to him. “I have to go to bed. I don’t feel well. Are you sure you can do it by yourself?”

“Sure. It’ll be a breeze. I’ve watched Fixer Upper and Property Brothers enough to know how to do grout! Just go to bed,” I said, giving him a quick squeeze. “And thanks for all your hard work today. It looks great,” I said.

I went to work, mixing the grout and slathering it over the tiles and into the cracks. I waited the allotted time, then grabbed my sponge to clear off the extra. Piece of cake.

Except for it wasn’t. It was hard. The grout was hardening too quickly. I scrubbed until my knuckles were literally bleeding, and I had only cleaned off 1/6 of the grouted tile. Tears formed at my eyes, and I scrubbed harder, longer.

I scrubbed and cried until it was clear I needed help, and fast. It was 2 am. I was only a half of the way done. I had been working for 3 hours. The grout felt like concrete at this point.

It took setting aside all my pride to wake Mark. With tear-filled eyes, I begged. “Mark, I’m so sorry to wake you up. I know how tired you are. I know you have a cold. But, I need help.”

He squinted at the sight of the hall light.

I came closer, repeating myself.

He saw my tears, my bloodied hands, and he got up right away.

He finished cleaning the concrete-hard grout in 30 minutes, without a single complaint. “It’s okay, Heather,” he said when I kept apologizing.

The next morning, I walked past the stove. The grease stain from Mark’s mistake months ago shone back at me. I had held it over his head for the last two months, unwilling to forgive such a stupid mistake. And yet, Mark had dealt with my tile disaster without a single rebuke, a single guilt-inducing comment.

I ran my fingers across the stain and smiled. I would forever love that stain, for all it represented. I would never hold onto such a silly grudge again. It wasn’t worth it. I turned to the backsplash on the opposite wall. Instead, I would try to be more like my husband, willing to help at a moment’s notice. I would forgive always.

 

 

 

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Blog Tour: The Forgotten Girl

Heather Chapman and Cedar Fort Publishing & Media are pleased to announce the The Forgotten Girl blog tour, which will run from February 13-21st, 2018.

About the book:

It is 1906, and sixteen-year-old Stella’s life in Durliosy, Poland, is bleak. Her only hope of surviving is to travel to America, a land of freedom and opportunity, and reunite with her brother in Baltimore. There she’ll find new challenges, and perhaps, if she can put her painful past behind her, a new chance for love and lasting happiness.

About the author:

Being the youngest of four sisters and one very tolerant older brother, Heather grew up on a steady diet of chocolate, Anne of Green Gables, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Austen, and the other staples of female literature and moviedom. These stories inspired Heather to begin writing at an early age. After meeting and marrying her husband Mark, Heather graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University and finally settled down in a small farming community in southeastern Idaho with her husband and four children. In her spare time, Heather enjoys time spent with family, volleyball, piano, the outdoors, and almost anything creative.

Author Residence: Soda Springs, ID

The Forgotten Girl Blog Tour Schedule

Feb. 13- Kaki Olsen Books

Feb. 14- Singing Librarians

Hardcover Feedback

Feb. 15- Inklings and Notions 

Rockin Book Reviews

Feb. 16- Getting Your Read On

Wishful Endings

Feb. 17- Bookworm Lisa

JoAnn Arnold 

Feb. 18- Jori Loves A Story

The Things I Love Most

Feb. 19- My Book A Day

A Bliss Complete

Feb. 20- Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Feb. 21- Robyn Echols Book Blog

Jori Loves A Story (INTERVIEW)

 

 

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My Valentine: Part 2

He chose to come home for Christmas, I kept reminding myself. He likes me. What had started out as a nice family dinner had gone disastrously wrong.

“I don’t feel well. I think I’ll just sleep,” He said. His olive skin had turned pale.

“Are you sure? The whole family is here, and my Aunt Katie and her family are coming, too.” I had been excited to have him meet more of my family.

There were three long banquet-type tables running the length of the house to accommodate my parents, four siblings and their spouses, my nieces and nephews and extended family.

“I’m really alright,” He said, swallowing.

I nodded and said, “Feel better,” before returning to the chaos of family holidays.

Why couldn’t he push through it? It was the holidays, and the entire family kept asking me “Where’s Mark?”

I tried to push the disappointment away, but the pit in my stomach just seemed to grow. I took a bite of my potatoes, then swirled my fork around the salad. That’s when I realized… It wasn’t a pit in my stomach.

My fork clinked against the table, and I caught the gaze of my brother Matt. His eyes betrayed him. He felt my same agony, and he wasn’t sure what to do either.

I walked to my mom, whispering I was headed to the basement to lie down. Matt was on my heels, nodding his intention to do the same.

It BECAME A SCENE FROM A NIGHTMARE. My mom banished the ill to the basement, and what had once been love and compassion between my brother, Mark, and me became a brutal fight to survive.

“Heather, I need the bathroom!” Mark pounded on the door. “HURRY!”

I was currently doing the double ended elimination technique– garbage can in hands while on the toilet. “Come back later, Mark. I can’t have you by the door right now.”

He pounded louder. “HURRY!”

When I opened the door, he was bent over rocking back and forth. At the sight of an open bathroom, he sprinted past me, almost running me over. He slammed the door on my heels.

I wish I could say it was over. And for Mark at least, it soon was. Matt and I weren’t so lucky. We camped out in the downstairs den and spent the night moaning from body aches and rushing to the restroom.

Mark camped out beside us, and nursed me and my brother. He cleaned out our garbage cans after we puked. It feels necessary to reiterate this. My college boyfriend cleaned up my and my brother’s vomit on his big Christmas visit with my family.

He heard and saw me at my very worst– and I mean worst. I was disgusting. I had purple bruises dotting underneath my eyes. My skin was white, my hair stringy and greasy. I smelled…feral (and that’s putting it lightly). I whined. I was anything but attractive.

And still he was there. He held my hair back, and he gave me water to swish.

I imagine many in his circumstances might act differently. “You know, this isn’t really working out. This whole trip was a good test run, and I think it’s time we went our separate ways. Get better, and while you’re at it– Take a shower. Put some makeup and deodorant on. Maybe I’ll see you around campus next semester.

But this guy was different. After it was all said and done and we were driving back to school, Mark leaned toward the passenger seat.

“I want to marry you, Heather.”

 

 

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