A Typical Fight
Mud’s coming out of the kitchen faucet: a pool of it in the sink.
I tell my fiancé, Sarah. I yell, “Sarah! Mud’s in the sink!”
She doesn’t answer.
I yell more: “Sarah, you have to come downstairs! Our faucet’s puking dirt!”
“If you want me you need to come upstairs,” she says.
“I need you now!” I say.
She must pick up on my panic, because she comes downstairs and joins me in the kitchen.
“Wow, you weren’t exaggerating,” she says.
“I wasn’t,” I say. “Did you do something to it?”
This is a mistake. I know it’s a mistake as the words leave my mouth.
“Why do you think I did something to it? Did you do something to it?”
“Are you accusing me of messing up our water?”
“You used it last.”
We go back and forth as mud continues to gush out of the faucet. Sarah turns it off and we walk down into the basement to see what’s happening.
“Did we buy a bad house?” I ask.
“Calm down,” she says. “I’m sure it’s not a big deal.”
Except it is a big deal. A tree is growing out of our water service pipe. Sarah walks over and touches its bark.
“Did you know this was happening?” I say.
“Why would I know this is happening and not say something?” she says.
“Who do we even call for something like this?” I say.
It turns out there’s no one to call. We try the city. We’re on hold for an hour. We try our plumber. He says he doesn’t do things like that, try a contractor. We try a dozen contractors, one of whom says he’s not in the country, try trimming the leaves.
“I’m going to trim the leaves,” I say to Sarah.
“Let’s wait until we get someone,” she says.
“We’re never going to get someone. We need water.”
I get shears and start trimming the tree. The problem is, every time I cut it, it seems to grow. More branches. More leaves.
“I told you, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
This only makes me want to cut more. I start hacking at the trunk. I swear, the bark gets thicker.
“Try the water now,” I say.
Sarah goes upstairs and yells, “It won’t turn on.”
I watch a YouTube video and go under the sink. I take apart the plumbing. Clods of dirt fall on my head as I disconnect pipes.
“I’m going upstairs,” Sarah says.
“You’re not going to help?” I say.
“What help? You’re not asking for help.”
It’s a good point. I keep disconnecting pipes.
“Is the bathroom faucet working?” I ask.
She goes into the upstairs bathroom and yells, “Yup!”
I go upstairs and sure enough, the bathroom faucet is working. The water is completely clear.
“I know,” Sarah says, and she returns to the bedroom.
“You don’t care about this?” I ask.
“I do,” she says. “But I don’t think we know how to do anything about it.”
Sometimes when we fight one of us asks the other person to play the believing game: try believing what the other person says. What if they’re 100% right?
In this case, I try it with Sarah: we don’t know how to deal with the tree. She didn’t know about it before me. She didn’t do anything to make it happen. It’s just a mysterious tree growing out of our water service pipe.
“Think we can drink out of the bathroom faucet?” I say.
“We can try,” she says.
Jared Levy has stories published in several regional and international journals including Passages North and Cleaver Magazine, for which his short story, ‘Waiting for You in Paris’, was nominated for a Pushcart Award. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Bates College and is a recipient of support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lacawac Artists’ Residency, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He is a proud member of the Backyard Writers Workshop in Philadelphia, PA, and an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College.
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