Time and Patience

     ”No, sir, I don’t have it ready; I’m still working on the numbers……Yes, it is taking longer than usual. Of course, I will get it to you as soon as possible.” Putting the phone down, Leana sighed. She opened her desk drawer and took out a bottle of aspirin. Rubbing her temples and desperately trying to rub away her feelings of inadequacy, no time for her girlfriend, and not enough time for this project. 

     ”He’s going to drive me crazy if I don’t get this report done soon,” she mumbled while stuffing two pills in her mouth and downing a half bottle of water. 

     ”Why aren’t these numbers adding up?” Try as she may, she couldn’t stay focused, let alone finish the report, even though she had been working on it all morning. She kept getting distracted; by either her boss calling or her mind drifting to thoughts of her girlfriend. Concentrating on anything right now was proving to be complicated. 

    She wished she could blame someone other than herself, but unfortunately, this mess was all her fault. Six weeks earlier, she squandered the opportunity to hire temporary help. Remembering her assistant’s words, she could kick herself now. “You’re going to need to hire some temporary help. Here is the phone number for an excellent temp agency. I hope you will call them.” 

    Gerri, knowing she wasn’t going to be much help over the coming month, worried for her boss, but after being engaged for the past ten years, she wasn’t going to let anything stop her wedding. She took all of her accrued vacation time at once, which would leave Leana shorthanded in the office. Worried, she researched the local temporary employment agencies and suggested on many occasions for Leana to call.  

    Leana, naively thinking she could manage the entire office without hiring any help, had taken the paper Gerri offered and quickly tucked it into her pocket, then said: “Gerri, I appreciate it, but that won’t be necessary. You’re only on vacation for two weeks.”  

     Shrugging, Gerri shook her head knowingly, “Ok, Leana, if you say so. I wish you’d reconsider though. Remember, I have a lot of days off scheduled before the wedding too. You know I won’t be much help in the coming month.”.    

  It hadn’t taken long for the double workload to take its toll, and Leana realized how much she underestimated Gerri’s daily contribution. Gerri managed to take care of details that Leana never even knew existed. This month in the office without her assistant was giving her a new appreciation of her talents.  

    Her mind once again drifted to thoughts of Sarah. They had been together as a couple for just over two years. Meeting when Sarah crashed her bike in the park and Leana came to her rescue. Their relationship was still relatively new, so being apart was becoming increasingly more difficult. Leana missing her something awful, couldn’t wait to go home, even though she’d be too exhausted to have a real conversation. She just wanted to see her and, if nothing else, be near her.  

    Smiling, she sat at her desk, reminiscing of the last time she spent the night with Sarah, just cuddling up on the couch. It was a beautiful night, which happily ended with them tangled up between the sheets. She smiled as she thought about Sarah, her wavy brown hair, mischievous green eyes, long legs, and sexy body. This month was taking its toll on her sanity and her libido.  

    It was her pride that had taken the biggest hit this month, and she knew it was all her fault. She was learning the hard way, a hard lesson of overconfidence. On the drive home, she contemplated just skipping dinner and going straight to bed. But she knew Sarah wouldn’t allow it; usually, Leana dictated the rules this month, she was happy to pass the torch to Sarah.   

    Sarah was smiling as she saw Leana pull into the driveway, but her smile quickly faded as she continued watching. Leana’s posture spoke volumes. With shoulders slumped, looking bedraggled, she dragged herself up the walkway. Frown deepening, Sarah inquired. “Leana, did you skip lunch again?” Getting a nod, Sarah proceeded to lead Leana to the kitchen table, where she had a meal prepared. “You are lucky because if it were me skipping meals, I’d be going to bed with a sore bottom.”  

   Trying not to let her irritation show and still be supportive, Sarah kept Leana company through the meal. Sitting alongside her ensuring she ate adequately while consciously keeping the conversation to a minimum. Once Leana had eaten all possible, Sarah held her hand out for Leana, guiding her to the bedroom. Nudging her sleepy girlfriend along, she helped her change and get ready for bed, then quietly tucking her under the covers. Leana lay on her stomach while Sarah rubbed tiny circles in the small of her back, staying there long enough for sleep to take over. Once she heard Leana’s even breathing, she quietly returned to the kitchen to clean up the dinner dishes. Although she would never voice it, she missed Leana’s dominant side, something awful.  

                                  ******** 

  As this crazy ordeal was nearing an end, Leana looked forward to Gerri’s return on Monday. Keeping her mind focused on the end game was all she would need to get through the rest of this week, then everything could get back to normal, and she could focus her energy on Sarah again. Once Gerri returned, there would be no more insane schedule, working weekends, and the long twelve to fourteen-hour workdays. She almost danced while thinking about how great it would be.  

    Friday finally arrived, and she was almost caught up with her workload and, thankfully, able to leave the office early. The light at the end of the tunnel was in sight, and she was happy to be going home. Merely knowing the end was near had her mind practically singing, “One more day, only one more day!” From the hours she had been spending in the office, every muscle ached. Because of her arrogance, she had been fearful she would miss essential details, so each night, she stayed later and later. She had one more Saturday to get through, then finally, Gerri would be back.  

                                **************** 

   Walking into the house while the sun was still up was an unexpected treat, and Leana was the happiest she’d had been in weeks. The bright smile that appeared suddenly faded by the sound of the phone. Stepping into the house, she almost jumped out of her skin when it shrilled to life. The debate over the landline was ongoing; she added this abrupt noise onto the minus column.   

    Answering quickly, she heard Sarah’s elderly Aunt Flo practically screaming through the earpiece. Surprisingly, at the ripe old age of 78, she had a loud, although shaky voice. Not given a chance to speak, Leana waited, listening patiently for her tale of woes to come to an end. Cringing as Aunt Flo detailed each of her seemingly unending list of complaints.  

   Ten minutes turned into thirty, during which time she could only mumble her understandings. Leana was taking turns alternating between running her fingers through her short hair and rubbing her temples., hoping to ward off the now impending headache and ease the throbbing in her ear. Aunt Flo had a way of reliving the same story in several different ways, amazingly all in the same breath. Even more daunting, when she felt wronged, she emphasized every infraction.  

  Apparently, after agreeing to spend today helping her Aunt with a list of chores, Sarah failed to show. Even worse, not informing Aunt Flo that she wasn’t coming. Sarah, not calling, was most unusual.  

   Between Aunt Flo’s advanced age and her ongoing health problems, the strength she had only a few years ago was waning. There were many things she could no longer take care of on her own. As of now, she was fiercely clinging to every last bit of her independence. Unfortunately, where Aunt Flo’s strength was lessening, her cranky disposition was not. She was just as grumpy now as when she was younger, now maybe even more so. 

  Aunt Flo was going on about being ignored by Sarah and how badly treated she was. Leana grew concerned. Could something have happened that Leana didn’t know? Undoubtedly, Sarah would have told her if something was wrong. But she had been so busy lately, maybe Sarah didn’t want to burden her. A wave of guilt and fear washed over Leana; at the same time, she was attempting to concentrate on Aunt Flo and find a polite way to disconnect.  

  Sarah had always been very tolerant in the past when it came to Aunt Flo and her crankiness. Tolerance not being the case with everyone. After an encounter with Aunt Flo and her wicked tongue, most laborers would stop answering her calls and leaving Sarah to handle most of the upkeep on the older woman’s cottage. 

  Giving her word, ”I’ll get to the bottom of this. I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding. Yes, I’ll make sure she’s there tomorrow.” Aunt Flo was finally satisfied, and Leana was able to disconnect. Placing the phone down on the kitchen counter, she went in search of her missing girlfriend. 

 Leana spied her from the kitchen door, wearing an old beat-up sweatshirt, a ripped pair of jeans, with her long brown hair in a ponytail. Leana was catching glimpses of Sarah, who kept ducking down, cleaning out her most cherished mustang looking through the door. Seeing she was alright, Leana stood there, enjoying the sight for a moment. Once she had an eye-full, Leana called through the open doorway. “Sarah, Please come in here; we need to talk,”   

  Sarah responded with concern and curiosity, “Sure. What’s up, Leana? You’re home early. Is something wrong?” Immediately, stopping what she was doing, wiping the dust and dirt off her hands and jeans. Being in trouble hadn’t crossed her mind because she’d been pretty good lately. She went to join Leana, who was now seated at the kitchen table. Leaning in, she gave her a quick kiss before taking a chair next to her. 

  Jumping right in, Leana inquired. “You tell me. Is something going on with you that I don’t know about?” 

  Confused by this question, Sarah asked, “What do you mean, Leana? I can’t think of anything.” 

  “Weren’t you supposed to go over and help Aunt Flo today?” Leana continued, “I just got off the phone with her. She’s distraught that you didn’t show. She said you didn’t even call to let her know you wouldn’t be coming over. I’m surprised. You’re usually more careful with other people’s feelings. I thought maybe something had happened?” 

  Sarah becoming instantly defensive, responded, “Well, nothing’s wrong. I couldn’t deal with her today. She has gotten so crabby, and she drives me crazy.”  

   In the past several months, being around her Aunt was becoming increasingly more difficult. She had no problem helping. It was just hard being around so much bitterness. Unfortunately, she was the only relative living in the area. After retiring several years ago, her parents decided to explore the country in there then brand new motorhome. Plus, her father would never consider returning to help his ornery sister. Their relationship was never a close one, seeing each other only on the most infrequent occasion. Whether fair or not, dealing with Aunt Flo was something that had always fallen on Sarah’s shoulders, even as a teenager.  

  Leana’s tone was firm and unsympathetic. “Are you telling me that you didn’t show or even call to let her know you were not going to be there because you couldn’t deal with her? Is that what you are saying, Sarah?” 

 Sarah paused for a moment; she hadn’t thought about calling. Mentally, she pondered, “Oh boy, I’m probably in trouble again. Well, what else is new?”  

    Shrugging her shoulders, Sarah said while pouting. “Well, I guess I didn’t want to go over there. She has never been very nice, but she has been hateful lately.” She continued in a higher pitch voice as she rambled on. “You don’t understand Leana; she’s not mean to you. It’s me; she always picks a fight with, and she is so condescending. I couldn’t deal with her today!”  

  Unimpressed with Sarah’s whiny attitude. Leana advised in a matter of fact tone. “That answer is not going to cut it, little girl, tomorrow. You will go over there, and you will help her. You can spend one day helping your Aunt without fighting.” Exasperated, “She’s an old lady Sarah. Sometimes old ladies are cranky. I’m sure you can handle it. And for Pete’s sake, I shouldn’t have to tell you to be nice.”  

  Defeated, Sarah mumbled quietly to herself, “Easy for you to say, you don’t have to deal with the cranky old lady.” She wasn’t quite enough because Leana could hear every word. 

  Startling Sarah, Leana quickly corrected. “Sarah, That is enough with the attitude! Do you understand me?” 

  “Yes, Leana.” Sarah gave in, knowing she had no chance of winning. She’d see crabby old Aunt Flo tomorrow. Trying to be more positive, she thought, “Maybe she’ll be in a good mood for a change. Ha! Fat chance!” sighing, “But one could always dream.” 

                                   ************* 

  The next day turned out to be much, much worse than she could have anticipated. From the minute Sarah arrived, Aunt Flo proved to be the same mean and bitter old lady she remembered. “So much for positive thinking. Oh well, I wasn’t expecting to be that lucky anyway.” Sarah mumbled.  

  Immediately upon arriving, Aunt Flo began nagging. “It’s about time you’ve shown up. I’ve been waiting all week!” As the day dragged on, Sarah was ready to pull her hair out, root by bloody root. Thinking it’d probably be less painful than listening to Aunt Flo. There was no doubt in her mind why the laborers stopped returning her Aunts calls, and quite frankly, she couldn’t blame them. 

  There was not a single thing Sarah could do right when it came to Aunt Flo. As soon as Aunt Flo placed the very long to-do list in her hand, Sarah inwardly groaned. Reading the items off, she sadly realized it would take more than one day to accomplish it all. The list had everything on it, from changing a light bulb, raking the lawn to washing the bed linens. Sarah was surprised the window washing wasn’t on the list, but knowing Aunt Flo, that too would change before it was over. 

  Wrapping her long hair in a bandana, she immediately got to work, hoping to accomplish as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. Right away, Sarah knew the day was going to be horrible. Aunt Flo followed her from one chore to the next, offering unsolicited advice and making snide comments. “That’s not how you do that!” with a clenched jaw and teeth grinding, she’d go to the next item on the list only to hear. “You’re doing it wrong. Can’t you do anything right?”   

     The day continued much the same way, insults and snide comments one building on top of the other, to Sarah’s ever-growing distress. In an attempt at not responding, Sarah began biting her tongue and clenching her jaw tightly. So tight, she began to think her teeth would crack, and with each comment, her temper continued climbing, fighting back the temptation to give this mean old coot a piece of her mind. 

      Suddenly, she realized she’d have to leave soon or risk losing her cool. She knew, without a doubt, Leana would not be happy if she lost her temper. Leana was already not pleased about yesterday; another complaining call from Aunt Flo Leana would take it out on her backside. Sarah didn’t want a sore bottom added to her list of problems. That list was long enough; thank you very much, Aunt Flo.  

                               *********** 

   Sarah arrived home in a foul mood, slamming doors as she stomped through the house, and grumbling to herself. “Do your chores yourself. You mean, old bat.” She held her tongue so much today she was ready to explode with frustration. Completing only half of the list, but she couldn’t deal with Aunt Flo and her nastiness any longer today. 

  Leana had been home from work for less than 20 minutes. She was finally starting to unwind and having just changed out of her work suit and into her comfy yoga pants along with her favorite t-shirt. She was comfortably enjoying the peace of finally being home and away from the office when she was suddenly startled by the sound of banging doors and the thick air of hostility. “Sarah, What is going on? Why are you slamming doors?”  

  Unable to stop herself, she yelled nastily, “Just leave me alone!” 

  Instantly at attention, placing hands firmly on her hips, Leana said, “Excuse me, young lady? That tone is not acceptable in this house, and you know it!” 

  Sarah grumbled back, “I said, leave me alone, can’t you just drop it for once?” Unfortunately, she just couldn’t let her frustration go after it had been building all day long. 

 Leana sternly retorted, “Sarah, you had better watch that attitude. You are about to be in more trouble than you can handle a young lady!” 

   Sarah stormed into the kitchen, pulling open the refrigerator door, and grabbed a can of beer. After dealing with Aunt Flo all day, she just wanted to zone out with a few beers. Drink the horrible, miserable day away. She didn’t want to have to explain anything to anyone, even to Leana.  

   While popping the top on the can of beer, Leana entered the kitchen. She saw the can Sarah had in her hand, and she immediately instructed. “Put that can back. I do not want you drinking with that attitude!” Having experienced Sarah try to drown her problems in the past, which hadn’t ended well. “Tell me what has gotten into you? I want answers right now, young lady!”  

  “Fine!” Adding to her already foul mood, Sarah practically threw the can of beer in the sink. The beer can hit harder than what she had intended, and beer flew everywhere. Splatters went all over the counter, on the floor, and unfortunately for Sarah, they also landed on Leana. “Oh, no!” Sarah knew this was bad. She stood in shock and groaned. Of course, what else would go wrong.”  

       Picking up the dishtowel to wipe the beer off her face, and annoyed by the mess. Leana knew this wasn’t typical behavior for Sarah and needed to calm herself and her now rising temper, she directed. “That’s it! Young Lady!! If you’re going to behave like that, you had better march your butt over to the corner!”   

    Sarah, surprised at what just happened, tried hard to peddle back. “Leana, come on, I didn’t mean for that to happen. It was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to splatter.”   

    Now in an even sharper tone than earlier, Leana began counting “ONE!!!” 

  “Leana, that’s not fair. It was an accident!” Sarah whined back a protest.  

   “TWO!!” Not giving an inch, Leana continued to count. 

   Left with no other choice, Sarah stomped her way to the corner, defeated from today’s events. Thinking, “Great, on top of everything else, Leana’s going to spank me. This day is getting better by the minute.” Keeping still in the corner was near impossible, as her mind was racing with the unfairness of the day. “Why couldn’t Leana just let me be like I wanted?”….”It is so unfair, first Aunt Flo was on my back and now Leana.”….”I can’t catch a break!” The big emotional day was taking its toll, finally unable to hold back any longer; tears began trickling down her cheek.  

    Leana let her stew for the usual 20 minutes. Knowing Sarah had worked herself up so much, that standing still was not going to happen, and this time, Leana didn’t insist. She wanted to get to the heart of the problem. Sarah’s attitude and emotions were way out of control. “Hopefully, a little corner time will have a calming effect,” Leana thought while leaning against the counter watching.  

  Guessing this attitude of Sarah’s was the direct result of being around Aunt Flo. It was times like this when she just wanted to strangle that woman. She is mean, always getting Sarah upset. Sadness crept in, and Leana started to second guess herself, “Maybe I shouldn’t have insisted on her going over there. Unfortunately, it’s too late to change that now.” 

     Right now, she needed to figure out the best way to bring Sarah back down off the emotional roller coaster she was riding. Taking a few moments to catch her breath, she decided to retrieve the hairbrush from the bathroom. With any luck, she wouldn’t need to use it. Thinking if corner time didn’t do the job, maybe the sight of the brush would.   

  Determined to get answers, Leana called. “Ok Sarah, Come here to the couch, sit with me and let’s talk.”  

  Sarah, turning timidly to face Leana, with feet dragging, she began slowly walking toward her. Leana nodding slightly for encouragement, patted the couch next to her. Sarah knew she was in trouble, even before seeing the hairbrush. Then catching sight of the horrible thing, her butt cheeks automatically clenched. Defeated, she slumped down on the cushion by Leana’s side, wiping a few stray tears away with the back of her hand. Her eyes stayed focused on the carpeted floor, unable to look up into Leana’s worried eyes.  

  Noticing the change of attitude, Leana wrapped an arm around Sarah’s shoulder, giving her a light squeeze, and softly spoke. “Ok, babe, Let’s hear it. What’s going on? Tell me, what has gotten you so upset?”   

  Sarah glanced up to look at Leana’s face. The look of concern she saw in her beautiful brown eyes had her heart-melting. Feeling Leana’s love was all it took for Sarah to release and let go of her bottled up emotions. After holding back her tears all day, the dam burst. She let go of the day’s frustrations and sobbed into Leana’s chest. Leana held onto her while she cried her heart out.  

  Leana was continuously patting and rubbing small reassuring circles on Sarah’s back, trying to calm her. “Sweetheart, it’s ok, let it out. I’m here. I’ve got you.” 

    More tears came streaming out as Leana quietly whispered, “I’m here for you, baby.” Leana’s love and kindness were overwhelming. Sarah buried her face deeper into Leana’s shoulder and just wept even harder. Finally, after a few minutes and with the feeling of security that being in Leana’s embrace gave her, her tears began to slow. 

     Once she seemed a little calmer, Leana softly urged, “Please talk to me, let me help you. Can you tell me what this temper tantrum is all about? Sweetheart, you have me worried today.” 

    Sarah’s cries eased as she animatedly recounted the details of her emotional day. “Leana, I’m sorry for being so horrible. I had such a bad day.” Hiccuping, she continued, “Aunt Flo was so mean today. She hates me, everything, and everybody.” Hiccuping again, “I can’t do anything right. I don’t even know why she wants me to help her. Leana, I can’t take it.” 

    Sarah was becoming increasingly distressed as she continued to explain. “I still have to go back, and I didn’t finish. Leana, I can’t do it. She is so mean.” Starting to cry yet again, “She hates the way I do everything. Please, Leana, don’t make me go back. Please!” She pleaded, big tears steadily continued to fall. Watching, Leana hurt for her.  

    “Ok, baby, I am sorry you had such a bad day.” Leana soothed as she was wiping away tears from Sarah’s eyes and cheeks. “It sounds like Aunt Flo needs a reminder to be nice to my baby girl.” Leana tried comforting Sarah by adding a little light humor.   

    Sarah, with a tear-stained face, looked up at Leana and with a timid smile. “I’d like to see that.” Sarah giggled, imagining Leana putting Aunt Flo in the corner. If anyone could do it, it’d be Leana.  

    Leana, determined to help Sarah, decided. “Sarah, I don’t have any plans for next weekend. I will go with you. Between the two of us, we can knock out that list in no time. That might even calm Aunt Flo a little. And if she knows what’s good for her, she won’t pick on you anymore.” 

    Sarah’s face brightened along with her mood. “You would do that? Would you go with me? Oh, Leana, I’d like that so much.” As she flung her arms around her girlfriend excitedly and continued, 

“That would be wonderful, Leana. Thank you for going with me. It’ll be so nice spending time with you again, even if I have to share you with Aunt Flo”. 

    Raising from the couch, Leana said, “Alright, let’s go make dinner. I am starving, aren’t you?” 

    Sarah was looking up at Leana as she questioned with a sadness that reflected in her eyes. “Um Leana, Are you still, you know, still um gonna spank me?”    

   Reaching down, she carefully pulled Sarah up from the couch and into her arms, “No sweetheart, no spanking tonight.” She continued to reassure soothingly. Leana was quite sure this display of emotions was due to Sarah’s aggravating day and not just bratty behavior. Having to deal with Aunt Flo’s mean-spirited attitude must have been frustrating. The fact that she waited until she got home to let it out was impressive. 

   “But you need to talk to me when you feel this way. Let me help or at least try to help. Ok? I do not like seeing you this unhappy. If you had told me the whole story, I would have arranged to go with you from the beginning.” giving Sarah’s bottom a few firm pats, she added sternly. “I don’t want to see another fit, like the one you had in the kitchen. Do you understand me, young lady?” 

  Message received loud and clear, Sarah vowed, “You won’t Leana, I promise, but it was such a bad day. You are going to make returning to Aunt Flo’s bearable. I hate being there anymore. She makes me feel so worthless. I’m sorry for taking it out on you. I know I shouldn’t have thrown a fit. She is just so frustrating.”  

  Flinging her arms tightly around Leana, Sarah’s heart now felt lighter, and she sighed contentedly. “I have missed you the past couple of weeks, Leana. I love you so much!”   

   Leana held on to Sarah breathing in her familiar scent for a moment before pulling back and looking directly into her eyes. “Baby, there is one thing I want to make clear. You are not worthless. You are my world; without you, I would feel lost. I love you so much.” kissing Sarah on the forehead before adding. “Please remember I’m always here for you, no matter how busy we are.”  

    Sarah answers as she continues wiping tears from her eyes; this time, the tears were of joy. ”Ok, Leana, I will, I promise.” 

    Hugging Sarah once again, Leana asked. ”I bet you haven’t eaten anything today. Am I right?”  

    Sarah replied as she was pulling Leana along with her into the kitchen. “You’re right. Leana let’s hurry and make dinner; the faster we’re done, the faster I can show you how much I’ve missed you.” 

   “Oh baby, but you’re not the only one who’s got something to show. Wait until I get you in bed. I feel like we’ve been apart for ages. I can’t wait to have you in my arms.”   

   The night was turning out better than Sarah could’ve imagined. The dinner was indeed quick, so quick in-fact they almost didn’t finish. Barely able to keep their hands off one another. They both knew they would need their strength for the night ahead, so they ate in a hurry. Then, to Sarah’s surprise, Leana suggested, “Let’s leave the dishes and do them tomorrow.”  

   Sarah giggled at Leana’s suggestion, “You must be excited for you to leave dishes to do later?” Sarah continued as she was remembering being reprimanded many times for doing just that. 

  Leana countered, “Hmm, Yes, I am, and if you don’t get that bottom of yours up those stairs right now, I may change my mind and paddle it after all.”  

   On that note, Sarah took off very quickly up the stairs. As she ran giggling, she flung her discarded clothing back at Leana. Who followed behind like a cat after her prey. By the time she turned the last corner to their bedroom, she had spotted Sarah lying naked on top of their king-size bed. A sly smile had crept along her face. Oh yeah, she was ready to pounce, all right.  

  The next weekend as promised, Leana accompanied Sarah to Aunt Flo’s. It took both of them working side by side, two full days to complete the entire list. As expected, the windows needed cleaning. They indeed were added to the list. Sarah didn’t mind because the work was more relaxed with a partner.  

  Working together, they were able to deflect Aunt Flo’s most unwelcome comments. Sarah wasn’t sure how Leana managed it, but Aunt Flo seemed less caustic with her presence. There were a few times she was almost lovely. That could have just been Leana’s way of redirecting the conversation. Whatever it was, she couldn’t be happier to have Leana at her side again. Leana’s wish to reconnect with Sarah came true.   

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