In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.


“I really hate these floors.”

The phrase had been ringing in Todd’s ears since the moment they had looked at the house.  Every place that he and his wife, Mary, had looked at had been a complete and utter disappointment.  The one house on the hill was beautiful, with a view that couldn’t be beat.  Naturally, it only made sense that the price that was being asked for the luxury home was entirely out of their price range.  The houses that were close enough to the city so that they could commute by bus were ramshackle abodes; beaten down by the layer of smog that seemed to hang in the air and the almost endless piles of litter that lay strewn about next to the curb.  Then there was this house.

To Todd, his house was some sort of oasis.  It was one story, which meant no lugging heavy furniture, groceries, or someday down the road, kids, up the stairs.  The lawn out front was just large enough to give a sense of landscape, but not so fancy that it would take more than half an hour to mow the whole patch of green.  The trees were tall and welcoming, the roof seemed in good repair, and there were two bathrooms.  Todd was shocked to find that there was room enough for him to have a den and his wife to have her craft room.  To him, everything fit just right.  Mary agreed that the layout was just what they had been looking for.  But there was one obstacle that had stood in their way seven years ago.  Inescapably, a single blight sat on the face of their domestic bliss and it haunted her to this very day.  Mary could not get over the orange carpet.

Most visitors were rather kind about the orange shag rug beneath their feat.  It only covered the living room, so Mary did her best to point to the skylight in the ceiling or the wood floor that bordered the area.  When company inevitably mentioned the hideous floor, they made jokes and various references of decorating schemes gone out of style.  Todd didn’t care, shrugging off the comments whenever they arose.  Mary, on the other hand, took it to hard.  She tried to come across as a woman unbothered by such minute flaws, but the orange carpeting knew it was victorious in the battle against her pride. 

The conflict all came down to a matter of cost.  Todd and Mary did okay financially, but the house, as all houses do, took a toll on their savings.  The first few years they struggled to recoup the cost of buying the home, the new appliances, and the general cost of rearranging two lives into one living space.  The next few years, they found their income disappearing into the cracks in the walls that popped up whenever the couple felt they were caught up.  The ice storm that caused a gap in the seal of the skylight took them both by surprise.  Todd spent the better part of a day on the roof, trying to get the ice and snow off of the glass and its frame while Mary; looking nervously at the ceiling above her the entire time, tried to sop up the water that had drenched the already heinous rug.  Having dirt and moss on the carpet only increased her frustration with it. 

And then came the even harsher winter the year after.  Mary had been reassured by Todd that the ceiling would hold up fine.  He had been right.  Unfortunately, the pipes in the walls weren’t let in on the plan to behave.  One section that wasn’t properly weatherproofed in previous years developed a bad case of the cold, and it burst all over the living room.  Mary had wanted to rip out the carpet right then and there, but when they pulled the sopping wet mess off of its nails, they found a disaster of mold, rot, dirt, and general construction chaos.  The cost of replacing the carpet and redoing the floor beneath was only made worse by the fact that the rug was in an odd shape.  The whole section would have to be custom fit.  Mary had wanted to do it that year, but Todd just motioned to the soggy mess where their wall had once been.  He pointed out, and she quietly agreed, that fixing the water damage had to come first.  So Mary took money from their savings, rented an extractor, and set about cleaning up and tidying her nemesis as best as she could.

All in all, Todd and Mary really were quite happy.  Their evenings, made romantic by low-lighting which heightened the mood and dulled the sight of the carpet, were spent with the two of them laughing and enjoying each others’ company.  Todd would make jokes about the random object that his klutz of a  boss had tripped over that day (with each day somehow always presenting a new item), while Mary laughed at the silly things that customers said without thinking.  They watched their cute movies together.  She rubbed his feet, he rubbed her back.  They talked about how politics was the most boring thing on the earth but also a thing that they had to care about.  They yearned for a place away from everyone while wondering what was taking the pizza delivery guy so long to get to them with their food.  They were happy.  But happiness can always use some tweaking here or there.

For their tenth anniversary as a couple, and their seventh in the house, Todd set about to bring Mary’s dream to life.  Todd’s uncle had passed away a few months before.  The two had always been close.  Todd liked to play pranks as a boy, and his uncle always seemed quite ready to teach him any tricks he knew or helped to refine the edges off the schemes that Todd had thought of by himself.  The great water balloon onslaught of ’84 had still never officially been assigned to Todd.  Todd’s uncle had taken the blame for it, his big smile beaming so wide that the beginning of his dentures could be seen.  Todd’s mom had argued that the army men that had been found near the garden hose were Todd’s, but Todd’s uncle had simply replied that their proximity was an accident.  He said this in every retelling with a giant wink towards Todd that the rest of the family pretended not to see. 

The passing of Todd’s uncle had been a blow for the rest of the family, but Todd had taken it in stride.  He had known how much his uncle had cared for him, and he was quite certain that the feeling was mutual.  He knew if anyone was in a better place, that someone was his uncle.  The two of them had had some great times together.  Todd wished that he could see his uncle face to face, but whenever his mischievous side started to pop up, Todd could always feel his uncle right alongside him, nudging him along. 

Their close kinship had been known by Mary, but the secret that passed between Todd and his deceased uncle had been kept between the two of them; with the exception of the other benefactors and a few lawyers.  Todd’s uncle had left explicit instructions in his will.  Todd was to receive a large sum of money.  But that money had to be spent in a surprise worthy of their previous efforts.  It had taken Todd a while to think of a surprise that his uncle would approve of (birthday parties, new cars, and rooms filled to the brim with water balloons all failed the test), but he had one morning woken up with a notion that killed two birds quite eloquently with one whoopee cushion.

Calls had been made, products had been ordered, and Todd had waited for his wife’s business trip to come across their calendar.  As soon as she left town, Todd set to work.  Mary had always had a fondness for Italy, so Todd had special ordered a beautiful white tile to be placed where the carpet had once been.  The construction workers had bristled when Todd had reminded them a few too many times not to drop the precious stones, but the work got done.  Each piece had been precisely cut in some far off factory, and every slab survived.  The orange carpet, its soggy remnants, and the hideous floor underneath were all but a memory now.  In its place was a beautiful tile floor with ornate designs and a subtle sheen to it.  As an added perk, Todd had set about restaining the wood paneling around the edges.  The tile was certainly the masterpiece, but he wanted to tie the bow on Mary’s gift himself. 

Thus, Todd busied himself on his hands and knees, whistling as he brushed at the floor.  He tried to work with haste as he knew Mary would be home at any moment.  The look that would adorn her face would be priceless.  He could just imagine the shock that would take over the one he loved.  She was going to flip; Todd was sure of that.  He let the finish splatter on the wood as he happily brushed it and smoothed out any lumps.  He was elated at how pleased his wife would be.  This, truly, was a feat worthy of his uncle’s name.

Then it hit him.  Just after Todd had looked at the clock (her flight should have landed an hour ago), the realization attacked him like one of his childhood joy-buzzers.    Todd had stained all the wood behind him.  He had stained all the wood beside him.  All that was left was the tiny two foot by two foot section that he was standing on.  The section located in the corner. 

Todd looked at the wood, realizing he simply couldn’t jump that far, not without a running start.  If he took another step, his socks would either get stuck on the fresh coat on the floor, or they would transfer the finish with him.  Right onto his wife’s brand new tile.  Todd stood with the can of finish in one hand, the brush in the other, and no clue what to do whatsoever.  He heard his wife’s feet coming up the steps.  He looked back and forth at his feet, hoping his toes had always had the innate ability to levitate and just kept it from him all this time.  As the keys turned in the doorknob, Todd could hear his uncle’s laughter in his head.  At any other time Todd would have appreciated how much his uncle would have loved this great error that he had committed.  But at the moment, as Mary was just about to step inside, only one thought came to Todd’s mind.

“I really hate these floors.”


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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