In preparation for our weekend company, I found myself cleaning out drawers and other places that no one would ever look. Along the way, I came across a story that Eric and I wrote together when we first started talking about our personal spanking fantasies. I hope you enjoy.
He was just unloading groceries when she walked in from the gym. Normally vibrant and energetic, she seemed preoccupied and the little agitated.
"How about we go for a hike while it's still light outside?" he asked. "Dinner won't be ready for another hour or so."
"I don't think I can," she replied. "Just before leaving work my boss asked if I could have a presentation on fairy shrimp by 9 AM tomorrow so he could present it to the EPA. I need to get started."
"Why do you let him do this to you?" he asked.
"It just needs to get done and nobody else can do it," she replied.
The elliptical didn't do much to ease the stress on her mind but she used the time to map out the PowerPoint her boss had asked for. Rushing in the house, Amy was surprised to find Eric in the kitchen, a pot of his famous spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and bags of groceries all over the counter.
Amy didn't have time to be married, to be a good attentive wife. She didn't even have time to fake it.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled recognizing the red flush of frustration flash across his face. Eric was extremely patient and would never do anything to hold her back or keep her from having a career, but lately this job was draining the life right out of her.
Amy pushed past Eric and pounded up the stairs to get right to work. She didn't need anything else on her plate, including a rash of self-inflicted guilt for not taking time out for him. Laptop open, she plugged away at the keys. Downstairs, Eric looked at the clock. 7 PM. He put the groceries away and planned dinner for 8:30, hoping some uninterrupted time would allow Amy to breeze through yet another presentation for her boss.
Ever since they had met years ago, Eric knew that Amy took on an incredible amount of work. Even to the point of seriously overloading herself every once in a while.
They had conversations over time about balancing her life. For the most part, she did fine, but a couple of times a year she got to the point of almost crashing.
Sitting at the computer, Amy waited for the screen to come up and locked her jaw in order to resist the temptation to run downstairs and blast Eric for her inability to say no. He knew she was the "go to girl", the player who always took one for the team. Any chance she had to make her boss look good seemed like a worthwhile activity. But this time, the stress was getting to her; coupled with lack of sleep, zero personal downtime, and a ton of guilt about never being home. She was a ticking time bomb and she was doing her best not to take it out on Eric.
This was one of those times.
As predicted, Amy finished the presentation at 8:27 PM and made her way downstairs. The table was set with the beautiful new bouquet of bright yellow daffodils in the center. Eric handed her a glass of lemon water and they kissed hello for the first time that day. Dinner was delicious and they scarfed it down quickly, as neither had eaten since lunch. Afterwards, Eric did the dishes while Amy packed her work bags for the next day. She wasn't required to be at the presentation but thought it might be wise in case her boss got a question from the EPA that he wasn't prepared to answer.
"It's Saturday," Eric had pointed out when she told him her plan at dinner. "You haven't taken a day off in over two weeks."
When the car was packed, Amy went back to the kitchen where Eric sat with his tried-and-true yellow legal pad and blue pen. He motioned for her to sit down. She glanced at the clock and set her jaw once again to get through a 10 PM planning session.
As he had done before, Eric sat down with Amy to prioritize her tasks. They developed a work plan together that seemed doable and took her stress level down a notch or two. But Eric wasn't done. This time, the planning session was going to end differently.
20 minutes, that's all it took for Eric to very logically map out a way for Amy's list of tasks to appear manageable. Beyond tired, she agreed to all of his suggestions and set the alarm on her phone for 4 AM.
"Let's go to bed," she said sleepily, but Eric put his foot in the way of her chair and waited until their eyes met.
"I'm tired Eric," she stated.
Eric took her hand and told her that he had let her down in the past. While it was true, he helped solve many problems before, he told her that he should've taken the means to reinforce the new desired behavior much earlier.
"This time, I won't let you down," he said softly.