“Swirling Smoke.” She dipped the roller into the pan and traveled the incline until the roller was damp. She lined from baseboard to molding and rapidly smoothed the trek with hurried whisks. She bent to the pan and rewet the roller.
“Swirling Smoke. That’s ass. It’s grey.” He lifted his sweatshirt from the waistband and mopped the sweat from his face. He dipped the brush into the can, soaked it with paint, and edged the window. “And I’m stuck doing the goddamned trim!”
She methodically moved along the wall: roll, sop, whisk.
He set the brush on the drop cloth, grabbed the sweatshirt from the waist, and pulled it over his head. “What the fuck is this heat on?”
She turned and saw him pinching paint drops from the hairs that descended from his navel. “Quit complaining. We’ve got to get this room finished by the weekend. Your wining is just going to make it worse.”
“I don’t want anyone in here. I use this room. This room is mine. I don’t want anyone in here.”
She set the roller on the lip of the pan, pulled the plastic paint gloves off her hands, and walked over to the pack of cigarettes that balanced on an ashtray that sat on the floor in the corner. She lit a cigarette and took a deep drag. “Listen to me. This is our room. Ours. Just because I don’t use it doesn’t mean it’s not ours.”
“Fine.” He snapped. He grabbed the sweatshirt off the floor and used it to wipe the sweat from under his arms. “How long are they staying?” He picked up the brush and returned to the window.
“Just the weekend. Annie and Dave are coming Friday night and Joe is coming Saturday morning.” She exhaled and tamped the cigarette in the ashtray.
He pitched the brush at the drop cloth. “No fuckin’ way! Joe isn’t staying here! I can’t stand that sonofabitch!”
She silently walked out the room; his volume followed her into the kitchen. She withdrew two waters from the refrigerator and returned to the room. She handed one to him. “Yes, he is.”
“No! He’s not!” He twisted the top and took a drink.
“Yeah, he is.” She took a long drink. “Now let’s get back to work. I don’t want to spend all day on this.”
“You know I don’t like him. Why the hell did you invite him? You know I can’t stand him! Our house – our invitations. You should have asked me!”
“You want to know who I can’t stand right now? You. And you’re staying here.” She slid a smile on the left side of her mouth and then drew her lips into a line. “Now are you listening to me? Are you really listening? We’ve been on the brink of a major fight. For about a month. We can have it, or not. It’s up to you. But right now we’re going to paint this room. We can do it and be in love or we can be quiet when we do it or we can fight. You decide. But, we’re painting this room.”
“It’s kinda hard to fight in a grey room.”
“It’s Swirling Smoke.”
“You should have asked me.”
He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned into his words, “There’s another option here.”
“Which is …?”
“We could fool around in the room for a while and then paint it.” His smile slid into a laugh.
She laughed. “As tempting as this is, we’ve got to get this room finished!”
He walked over to her. “On my side? It’s not a big fight. It’s a lot of little fights. And I don’t think we need to have it. I think there's stuff we've got to get over.”
“I don’t need to have it. But we’ve got to do a talk.”
He kissed her. “Paint then fuck?”
He bent down and picked up the brush. “Then let’s paint this fucking room!”