Sweat streamed down his spine. His knuckles were scraped and bloody. Noah had been at it for two and a half hours. Progress was slow, but each completed step was a personal victory. Matilda opened the patio door and watched her new husband at work.
“How’s it going, honey?” she asked.
Noah grunted. “It’s going.”
“Imagine how great it’ll be to barbecue. The burgers are ready when you are.”
“I don’t think the meat’ll keep that long,” said Noah. His screw driver slipped and he added to the scars on his knuckles.
“Don’t worry. I believe in you,” said Matilda, just before she slid the patio door closed.
“That’s the problem,” mumbled Noah.
The pressure was on. They’d been married three weeks and she still didn’t know he was mechanically declined. Even worse, he hated tools. He didn’t know how to use them. They were instruments of self-humiliation. That’s why he became a librarian.
Matilda, on the other hand, was in love with home improvement. Her favorite channel was HGTV. One of her dreams was to build her own home by the lake. Noah silently indulged her DIY passions. He thought it’d be years before she’d learn about his phobia of power tools.
Noah didn’t anticipate the barbecue they got as a wedding present from his brother Andy. Noah now regretted not ratting him out for causing the dent in their parents Altima when he was eighteen.
Determination propelled him forward. Noah couldn’t disappoint his new bride. Step 56 was done. He reached for the instruction manual. Two more small steps to go. Noah stepped back and looked at his creation. It looked almost like the picture on the box. It leaned a little to the left, but at least everything worked.
Clipping the last piece of trim in place, Noah raised his hands in celebration. He felt a primal joy swell in his core. He is a man with tools, and he knows how to use them. Mostly.
The patio door slid open behind him. “Oh, honey, it’s amazing. I knew you could do it,” said Matilda. She handed him a plate of burger patties. “Are you ready to cook?”
Noah sighed. “Sure. Just let me clean up.”
Noah fired up the barbecue. He marveled at the blue flames that heated the grill. He grabbed a patty. It disintegrated in his hand. So did the second one. And the third.
“Uh, honey? Where’d these burgers come from?”
Matilda stood in the patio doorway. “I made them. Why?”
“What did you make them with?”
“Beef, onion soup mix and bread crumbs.”
Noah spoke carefully. “Isn’t that the recipe for meatloaf?”
“What’d I say?” asked Noah.
She tried several times to compose herself. Finally she bawled, “I don’t know how to cook. I tried to hide it, but I failed.” She broke off into more sobs.
Noah rushed over and held his bride. “It’s okay, honey. That makes me only love you all the more,” he said. What he thought was, this is the best day ever!