Once upon a time there lived a boy and a girl.

She was shy, insecure, stubborn, and somewhat passive aggressive. He was blunt, comedic, stubborn, and somewhat aggressively aggressive.

The girl was short and skinny, broke, and artistic. She was a homeschool graduate, who waitressed all morning so she could spend the evenings dancing. She was holding out for a ballet career, but her feet were getting tired and so was her heart.

She wouldn’t order anything to eat, ever, when out with friends causing them to confront her about eating disorders, but mostly she just didn’t like the ugly business of choosing something and then chewing and swallowing it in front of anyone.

She drove a two toned beat up car you could hear coming a mile away.

The boy was zealous about religion, loud, stressed out about work. He was performance driven, romantic, funny, but sometimes rude.

He drove a pick up where a lot of kissing took place, especially at red lights, in spite of all the warnings of their youth pastor.

He didn’t like to be alone.

The boy, not the youth pastor.

He talked all the time. She didn’t.

He wanted a blonde career woman.

She wanted a boot wearing cowboy.

She wasn’t interested in careers.

He wasn’t interested in boots.

How in the world did they get together? Perhaps it was because they weren’t what the other was looking for, and so there were no games.

No impressing each other. No extra coat of lip gloss for her since she wasn’t really thinking of him staring at her lips anyway, or washing the old truck before he picked her up, trying to impress her (with his ’88 Datson). Just friendship.

After the friendship snuck in love, and after the love came marriage. Sometimes they argued, in their one bedroom apartment, but it was only about big things, not the little things that everyone always says you’ll argue about when you get married: like toothbrushes and how to make the coffee and whether or not to have decorative hand towels.

No one should have decorative hand towels.

They’re silly.

She can’t focus in clutter or chaos; it makes her depressed and tumultuous inside, like she’s swallowed a tornado…

…and yet, he will always put dirty spoons on the counter after she’s washed it down.

He loves football with all the zeal of a thousand toddlers hyped on fruit snacks…

…she will always have a martyred look on her face when he watches it.

He likes sugar…

…she likes salt.

They learned eventually that looks and expressions and body language say even more than words in a marriage.

Once, she got so angry at him she threw her set of car keys at his face. Luckily, she throws like the stereotypical girl who never played sports or he’d be wearing an eye patch now.

He likes to talk about his feelings, complete with gestures and dramatic expressions…

…she would rather write about them, then stuff them back down and bury the remains with salt and vinegar potato chips.

He is her biggest fan even when she makes him crazy, like when she melted off the paint on the exterior of the house with the hot barbeque grill, two days after the professional painters left, or when he has to take apart the toilet to pull out the nasty feminine hygiene products she swore up and down she did not attempt to flush.

She is his best friend even when he does the wrong thing, like when he tells embarrassing stories about her placenta to total strangers.

Now they don’t argue about the big things anymore because they have all that worked out.

Birth control and vaccinating and home schooling and budgets and travels and moves – all the kinks have been beautifully ironed so that there are never any wrinkles to unfold and discover that inside is a nasty difference of opinion.

Instead they argue now about the dumb little things, like toothbrushes and how to make the coffee and whether or not to have decorative hand towels.

Maybe they’re not so silly.

They look kind of cute.

They don’t say the wrong things anymore, but since they know what one another is thinking they might as well sometimes.

She mentally curses his eyesight when she picks up his dirty socks from the bedroom floor (a mere three inches from the hamper).

He mentally rolls his eyes when he asks how he can help around the house and the offer only makes her as mad as a hatter (why can’t he see for himself that the floor has so many crumbs on it feels like you’re walking on a beach, or notice when the laundry room smells like feet?)

Their flaws, too, are more evident the older their children grow, because it’s like being followed around by three miniature looking glasses with milk mustaches and footy pajamas.

Who taught them to be so impatient, to laze around in the afternoon, to put off till tomorrow what could be done today, to be so sarcastic all the time? Oh, right. The boy and the girl did.

And just when it feels too much, right when the girl wants to run away and the boy feels like he may be drowning in responsibilities, they remember a few things:

how to be friends first

how to never play games with one another

how to kiss at red lights.

And they are pretty sure – yes, even emphatically positive – that they will live happily ever after.

(If it weren’t for the socks).

Shadows Gray by Melyssa Williams