Skippy Cavanaugh frowned at the gift Carrie handed to him.
“You don’t like it?”
“I didn’t say that,” Skippy said quickly.
“Then what is it?”
“Well, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.”
Carrie snuggled up next to him on the couch. “I considered putting it into a big box and then wrapping the box.”
“No, that’s not it,” he insisted. He slowly unwrapped the gift, taking care to peel away the tape and not rip the paper.
“Stop beating around the bush,” Carrie said. She sat up straight and took a better look at him. “You don’t like the shovel.”
Skippy folded the paper into a neat 4 x 4 square, balled the tape and pitched it into the garbage bin next to the couch. Carrie watched all of this patiently, doing her best not to sigh too loud.
“It’s a great shovel,” Skippy said as he stood up and hefted it, testing its weight. “I’ve just never owned a shovel before.”
Carrie jumped off the couch and ran over to the sliding back door. “You’ve been talking for years about making a fire pit in the backyard. Something we could put chairs around and enjoy on summer nights. We could bring friends over and play music. Or we could hang a sheet and watch movies on a projector.”
Skippy watched her with astonishment. Sure, he’d mentioned about it before, but only in passing. In truth, he wasn’t that handy. He’d snuck over to his friend’s houses before and tried to get them to show him how to make a birdhouse or a bookcase. In short, he did not meet with much success. Carrie never saw those experiments.
But he could dig a hole. By God, he could dig holes. He’d spent summers for four years digging foxholes and trenches on Canadian Forces Bases – either for his training purposes, or as he advanced up in rank, training others how to dig trenches. His fellow soldiers through they were tricking him into helping, but the truth of the matter is, he didn’t see it as work. Once the trench tool was in his hand, his mind shut down, his problems went away, and he felt more peaceful with each shovelful of dirt. Digging a firepit in the backyard was the perfect thing he could do to make his house a home.
Now he wanted the shovel more than ever. A smile grew on his face and he went to be with his wife at the window to see that she was crying.
“I had no idea how much you wanted this firepit,” he said, putting his arm around her. “I’m so sorry. I know we haven’t done much to make this house a home. We both work so much, we hardly spend enough time together, much less working on the house. Maybe you should have got two shovels, one for each of us. We could do it together.”
Carrie shook her head and cried even harder. “The doctor said this might happen.”
“About the shovel?”
“About the hormones. I might get emotional, he told me. My mom did.”
Skippy came around to hold her shoulders and look her in the eye. “Hey, look at me. It’s going to be okay. I can dig a fire pit on my own in a few minutes.” He left out having to build a brick wall around it and a grill on top. He compared it to making a foxhole, using wood to create a little shelter where you could sleep. That could be adapted. Still, he would check som YouTube videos just to be sure.
“It’s not about the firepit!” She exclaimed, crying even harder.
“Then what is it!” Skippy insisted.