(c) 2012 Kristy Buzbee
The sand was getting everywhere in the house, and Greg was about to go stark raving mad.
David was working late again, and as far as Greg could tell, he hadn’t even been home and awake long enough in the past few weeks to notice the sand working its way from the corners of every room. But Greg noticed it. Oh, he noticed it.
It had started innocently enough. A small line of sand along the wood flooring beneath the bay window in the front room. Huh, Greg remembered thinking, I wonder how that got there. And he’d vacuumed it up. Of course he hadn’t mentioned it to David; what was the point? That was the night David had left his shoes on for three hours after getting home, even though he knew the carpet was brand new. Greg hadn’t mentioned that, either.
But then the sand kept showing up. He found it along the edges of the doors, standing in thin trails on top of the baseboards, crusted around the drain of the sink. Damn, Greg remembered thinking. Why the hell is there that much sand in my sink? He turned on the water and it washed away with only minimal scrubbing; it wasn’t a big deal. But still. Sand in the sink?
That was the afternoon that David picked up pizza for dinner, but forgot to get half without green peppers, even though he knew Greg hated them. He’d had to hide his pained expression as he picked them off, though he had probably let it show through a little on purpose, just so David would realize his mistake. Greg hadn’t been able to tell if it worked.
And today, Greg had gotten home from work – hours before David was due home, as usual – and opened the door to several small piles standing in the entryway. He walked to the closet to hang up his coat and his footsteps crunched. His teeth were clenched as he placed his coat on a hanger, then stood and braced himself a moment before turning back around. They were still there. Miniature sand dunes, right on the wood floor of the hall.
“Are you kidding me,” Greg sighed, and then the front door opened and David walked in. “Oh,” Greg said, surprised. “You’re done already?”
“Ran out of stuff to do,” he answered, giving Greg’s shoulder a pat and walking over the crunching sand without so much as looking down. “Figured I’d come back and relax a little.”
“Awesome,” Greg said with a grin. “Hey, you know, there’s a soccer game on tonight.”
“Oh, you like soccer so much more than I do,” David said. “I’m not really feeling all that right now. I’m just going to go upstairs and read.”
“Oh,” Greg said. “Okay. I’ll just watch it down here, I guess.” And clean up all this damn sand while I’m at it, he thought.
“Right,” David said, glancing at the back of his hand for a moment, then shaking it and heading up the stairs. “Have fun.”
Greg looked towards the stairwell. Then he noticed the sand trickling down the edges of the steps and onto the floor.
By the next evening, Greg was losing it. There was sand crusted across the panes of the front bay window, of all the windows. It was dirty and smeared and impossible to see through, darkening the whole house. He felt the grit of sand in his teeth, no matter how often he brushed. It was in his ears, in the corners of his eyes, under his fingernails. It was clumped in the sink and the shower drain and mashed into the beautiful new carpet of the living room. The doorknobs and railings and fixtures were scratched and dull.
Finally David came in, though it had been dark for hours. Greg could hear his shoes crunching through the hallway, and the complaining sand-filled hinges of the closet door. Greg greeted him with a banshee shriek. “The sand!” he screamed. “How have you not noticed the sand? Why won’t you say anything about it?!”
David jumped and glanced around, brushing at his pants. “Sand?” he muttered. “All I noticed were all these damn ants, but I thought we’d both be happier if I kept my mouth shut.”
Kristy Buzbee wrangles numbers by day and letters by night. Her favorite things include cookies, space operas, and running distance races she is woefully unprepared for with extreme determination. You can follow her on Twitter as @KristyBuzbee.