Gene snapped the clasps on the last of the suitcases and glanced around the now empty loft. He'd been living in the new house for nearly three weeks, knocking down walls and putting in outlets. He installed a toilet on the second floor, as well as a single stall stand-up shower. The oven was to be delivered the following week, the mattress and frame the following day. Yet, in spite of constant work and passionate effort, the place was incomplete and far from home on this morning, when Shell was scheduled to move in.
Gene cleaned ferociously in the evenings, hoping that somehow Shell would see and appreciate the house's raw and singular beauty, even in this unfinished state. Surely she would adore the third floor area where the study was to go, even if it is currently bare? Even if she had not witnessed, as Gene had, the room four weeks ago, full of bird droppings and moldy carpet? Surely she would appreciate the luxury of a toilet, since up until a week ago he'd been pissing in a coffee can. Hot water was overrated, Gene reasoned, remembering how often and fondly Shell spoke of her cool showers during her senior year in Mexico.
Though true that their nest had a long way to go, Gene was proud and quietly amazed by just how far it had come. He'd suffered through the slow progression, and was in a position to enjoy something like sleeping on the floor, now that the floor was clean and actually visible. Cold water was not a bad thing after all, when as of last week there was water.
When Shell arrived at 11:30 it was clear, just by the way she pulled in a long breath slowly through her teeth and held it there, that she did not see things the way Gene saw them.
"The stove won't arrive until next week," Gene said in a hurry, "but as a surprise I borrowed my uncle's car so we could drive up to the Ridge for dinner. Anything you like! Baked potato? Barbecue? A steak?" He was rambling and he knew it, but could not stop and weather the weight of Shell's disappointment.