The Peaks of the Citadel

Overcast was the day and bold were our hearts as we ventured forth to climb the outer walls of the citadel to its lofty peaks.

Long it vexed my heart sore as to why I so rarely need water the spathiphyllum in the corner—the lily, though lovely, gave me no peace. Then came a night of torrential rain and a clue to this mystery with the resonant crash of sheetrock down from above.

Our quest, then, was to learn what fell reason there might be for rain to enter and despoil the attic and interior of the great hall. Dismayed we were to find foul rot and storm wrought damage on both shingle and sheath, and we vowed an oath to repair.

“Insurance?” I said, for hope was in my heart that we might contract a craftsman for the labor.

He shook his head. “Not so, for the deductible is so great, we could dine on naught but ramen noodles for a year. No help will come.” Then stout of heart, he made boast. “But we are able and can do this thing which we’ve avowed.”

We sallied forth to the home improvement store and made bargain with the merchant therein. “Silver” was the word there writ upon the package of asphalt shingles though it appeared as pale gray granite to mine eyes. And I glanced with longing at the nail guns exhibited upon the shelves of the tool aisle. And at literature on the magazine rack, and at Christmas decorations on early presentation, though All Hallowed Saints’ Eve was more than twice fortnights away.

O, and I worked the handle of a bench-top drill press on display, for long have I desired this mechanical device.

So, we purchased with many a coin and promissory note the asphalt shingles we needed atop the citadel’s peaks. Thus supplied, we gathered wood and tools and asphalt shingles, and we charged forth to bravely battle effects of weather and time.

“Wait!” I cried upon gaining the roof. “Come no further! It cannot hold the two of us!”

For he was broad of shoulder and mighty of thew. And surely sheath and timber would collapse and cast us both into the great hall, most likely on the television atop its carven plinth just under the risky peak. Or mayhap on the dusty rowing machine I’d moved upstairs from the citadel’s dungeons to fulfill some decade’s New Year resolution to exercise.

“I am small and light of weight. I can wield hammer and caulking gun to affix the sheet and shingles into place. Thou art strong of arm and back and better able than I to carry heavy burdens of lumber and shingles up the ladders we leaned against the citadel.”

And he was mightily pleased at this plan for though he was manly, brave and bold, he was ever wary of heights. “But hold,” he cautioned. “Forget not thy leather gauntlets. For does thee not recall the radical dermabrasion of thy hands during our last repair of the citadel’s peaks?”

“Aye,” I said grimly. “I remember it well, and I thank thee for the remembrance of my gauntlets. I will use them as I climb, but I must remove them to hold the nails and fire the caulking gun. My hands would be too clumsy else and I would dread the task of plucking fallen nails from fallen leaves.”

For chill autumn was heavy upon the year, and neither of us had raked the yard.

“Then tuck thy gauntlets into thy belt or pockets this time so they won’t slide down the citadel’s peak and plummet to the earth.” Stern he was as he said, “T’is unseemly for the Lady of the citadel to snivel so upon breaking her fingernails.”

Through the long afternoon, I wielded hammer and caulk gun. Occasional enticing wafts of grilling haunch and ribs drifted to me from the steakhouse on the highway. My stomach rumbled in yearning, but I steeled myself to the purpose at hand and persevered in our great task.

Anon, I paused to gaze upon the greensward below extending to the chain-link fence and espied a clump of dying ragweed and knots of poison ivy I had not noticed before. I mentioned it when he brought a tankard of hot tea, passing it up to me with nary a spill, but I sipped the savory brew circumspectly for I did not wish to hurry down the ladder in great distress later.

As dusk descended and the first needles of sleet fell from the sky, I came down from the peaks. He stored away the ladders and tools while I wondered in what pantry I’d stored the heating pad. For sore and chilly were bicep and back from hammering while perched on the citadel’s peak. Mayhap, I must embark upon another quest ere the pass of this evenfall to the lair of trousers and skirts, blouses and shirts, and my heart quailed for there were legends, aye, that in closets there dwelt floors.

Yet no mere trepidation of future quest could still my joy. Gazing up at the deed we had done, we embraced in victory, our oath fulfilled.

Then he said, “Behold, I have prepared a gift of multi-purpose cleaner for thy hands,” for they were black and tarred with caulk. Therefore, I went into the citadel’s kitchen to scrub the malodorous substance from my hands.

But, perchance, it seemed intractable and stubborn to remove, and I despaired deeply for I had yet to prepare the evening banquet of grilled cheese and pickles and potato chips (if there be chips still in our stores).

“Out, out, dark blots upon my hands!” I cried as I applied the fibrous pot-scrubber to the labor.

He came to my side and examined my hands. “Let not thy heart be troubled. T’is only freckles.” Peering gravely, yet lovingly, into mine eyes, he pronounced a helpful suggestion. “Next time, wear thy glasses.”

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