The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(13)


by Mariana Zapata

“Did you wash the sheets?” Aiden hollered from where I could only assume was his bedroom.

I washed his sheets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I had every week since getting hired. For someone who worked out almost every day of his life, and sweating had become as natural as breathing, he was religious about having ultra-clean sheets. I learned from the very beginning how important it was that his damn sheets were clean, so I never missed doing them. Ever. “Yes.”

“Today?”

“Yes.” Why the hell was he asking? I always… oh. I always left a piece of the chocolate peppermint patties he liked on his pillow—because it made me laugh—and I hadn’t put one on there this afternoon. The store had been out of them. I guess I couldn’t blame him for being uncertain, but I could blame myself for spoiling him. He’d never acknowledged my little gift, or told me to stop leaving them, so I hadn’t figured he cared. Now I knew better.

Aiden didn’t immediately respond, and I could already envision him humming to himself with uncertainty before sniffing the sheets to make sure I was telling the truth. When there wasn’t a response, I figured he confirmed I wasn’t lying. But then he started yelling again. “Did you pick up my clothes from the dry cleaner?”

“Yes. They’re in your closet already.” I didn’t flinch, roll my eyes, or have an annoyed tone. I had the self-control of a samurai sometimes. A samurai who wanted to go ronin.

I’d barely managed to put my tablet back into my purse when he hollered again. “Where are my orange runners?”

That time, I couldn’t help but cross my eyes. Dealing with him reminded me of being a little kid and asking my mom to help me find something after I’d looked about a total of five seconds. They were where he’d left them. “In your bathroom.”

I could hear movement upstairs. Zac hadn’t made his way back to Dallas yet, so it could only be the big guy looking for his tennis shoes, or when his Canadianisms kicked in—runners. I rarely ever touched his shoes if I didn’t have to. It wasn’t as if his feet smelled—strangely, they didn’t—but they did get sweaty, and I mean, really sweaty. He’d been training so hard the last two months, the sweat had reached an all-time high. My fingers tried not to go anywhere near them if it could be avoided.

I was in the middle of looking through a cookbook trying to decide what to make for dinner, when the thunder that followed a two-hundred–and-eighty-pound man jogging down the stairs started. Seriously, every time he came down the stairs any faster than a slow poke, the walls trembled. I wasn’t sure how the stairs survived. Whatever kind of materials the builder used on them, it had to be good stuff.

I didn’t need to turn around to know he’d made his way into the kitchen. The refrigerator door opened and closed, followed by the sound of him munching on something.

“Pick up some more sunblock for me. I’m almost out,” he said in a distracted tone.

I’d already ordered him some days ago, but I didn’t see the point in telling him it was cheaper to order it than to buy it at the store. “You got it, big guy. I’m taking two of your shorts to the seamstress later. I noticed when I was washing them that the hems were loose.” Considering he got half of his clothes specially made because ‘size behemoth’ wasn’t widely carried, I was a little unimpressed those same shorts already needed to get patched.

Juggling the pear he was eating and two apples in his other hand, he tipped his chin up. “I’m running some drills tonight. Anything I need to know before I leave?”

Fiddling with the leg of my glasses, I tried to think about what I had planned on telling him. “There’s a few envelopes I left on your desk this morning. I’m not sure if you saw them already or not, but they look important.”