I’d been reading a book on relationships. It suggests not to spring things on your partner; that if you have bad news you should give your partner time to digest it. I cleared my throat.
“Neale,” I started nervously, “I think I need a rest day.”
by Seth Adams
Neale didn’t respond. He simply continued peeling the last apple, but his bouncy, happy countenance darkened and he began moving more deliberately. He leaned closer to the picnic table, which focused the light of his headlamp into a smaller area, darkening the evening.
I began talking too fast, “Not tomorrow! We’ll still stick to plan for tomorrow,” I blurt, desperate to avoid the inevitable fight. “We’ll rest the next day. We haven’t had a rest day in 8 days! You’re running me rag…”
I stopped. I realized that these were accusations, which I knew to avoid. I needed to stick to “I” messages. I dug my hands deeper into the pockets of my puffy jacket and felt my head retreating into the back of the hood. The cold desert night seemed to get colder.
“I just… my knuckles are swollen. My skin is cracked. I can’t raise my left arm above my head. It takes a full minute to straighten my hands. I’m tired, Neale.”
Neale looked up at the horizon. Someone who didn’t know Neale might think it was an innocent glance, but after all these years I knew what he was doing. He was reminding himself that the starry desert sky was perfectly clear, not a cloud in sight. Perfect for climbing.
I stopped a moment, then started again, speaking softly, “This morning” I said, ashamed, “When my alarm went off at 4:30, I started sobbing, and I don’t even know why.”
He looked at me. Perhaps sympathetic, but still obviously angry.
“And how do you propose spending the day? Probably updating your twitter?”
“There’s no need to be that way, Neale.” I said. “Rest days are important for you too. Besides, we’ll still stick to the plan for tomorrow, remember? The Enormodome? Remember? Even though I’m exhausted, I’ll do that for you.”
Neale nodded, happy at the thought of the Enormodome tomorrow. And with that, he returned to eating the apple peel, and peace returned to the desert evening.
Seth Adams blogs at Seth’s Blog, Purer and More Essential Than Yours. Trust us, it’s funny.
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