I Declare Paint War
“Bye-bye, Clara! Come back soon!” I called after my niece as my sister Jenny buckled her into the car.
“Bye, Uncle Joe.” Clara leaned out and waved at me. Her little heart-shaped face was set in a happy grin and streaked in all colors of the rainbow after our afternoon finger painting session. She also had a bright pink strand in her blond hair. Lucky for me, I’d bought water soluble colors.
I exchanged goodbyes with my sister and remained on the porch—waving after the car until it was out of sight—before returning inside to take care of the cleanup. My T-shirt had handprints all over it made by a mischievous four-year-old and I grabbed the neck and pulled it off. My pants followed, and I was in the middle of scrubbing red spots off the floor in my boxer briefs when the door opened and my fiancé got home from work.
“Honey, I’m hooooome.” A giggle followed the greeting. Ben loved ridiculing old gender stereotypes and couldn’t help laughing at himself when he did. He’d be tickled when he found me on all fours in the kitchen.
“In here,” I hollered and as predicted he burst out laughing when he saw me and the state of our kitchen.
“Oh Em Gee, Joe. Did you forget to give Miss Clara paper to use for her art?”
With a final scrub, the floor was restored to its original state and I jumped to my feet. “No. But I had to go to the bathroom. I swear I was only gone for two minutes.”
“Mhm. She’s quick,” he said and his eyes twinkled with mirth.
“That she is.” I threw the dishrag in the sink. “Hey, where’s my kiss?” I dried off my hands on a paper towel as I pursed my lips.
“Joooeee,” he whined. “You’re all covered in paint.”
“I’ll keep my hands on the back.” I made a show of holding them up first and then clasping them behind my back. My fingers brushed against an open container of finger paint on the table.
“You have a blue handprint on your cheek. Looks like you’ve been slapped by a smurf.”
I chuckled. “Don’t rub against it and you’ll be fine.”
“Mhm,” I said and nodded, doing my best to keep a straight face.
“All right,” he sighed and took a small step forward. He leaned his upper body toward me, but tried keeping his distance. He pursed his lips and closed his eyes and I took what he offered. His lips were soft and warm against mine and we both hummed in happiness.
I let myself enjoy it for a second before I dipped my fingers in the paint, lifted my hand quickly, and drew a line over his cheek. He squeaked and jumped back, slapping his palm to the paint, smearing the yellow color, and I collapsed into fits of laughter.
“You promised,” he said as he tried to scrub away the paint but only succeeding in spreading it out more.
“You forgot to check if I had crossed my fingers.” I waggled my eyebrows at him.
“You…you…” Quick as a weasel, he darted around me and grabbed another container. Before I had time to react, I had a wide green line from my nipple all the way to my belly button.
My eyes flitted between my painted chest and his gloating face. “You’re even quicker than Clara,” I said, snatched a paint container, dipped my finger in it and poked his nose, making it bright blue.
He narrowed his eyes. “Are you declaring war, sir?” he asked with his hands on his hips and a defiant look on his face.
“I do believe I am, Mr. Collins,” I replied and swiped my blue finger over his eyebrow.
He held up both his hands and said, “Stop!”
I faltered in my planned attack on his other eyebrow and pulled back. He held up his right index finger and when he was sure I was waiting, he quickly stripped out of his clothes and threw them out of the kitchen. Then he armed himself with two paint containers: the yellow and the green.
In response, I snagged the red to accompany the blue I was already holding.
“Ready, sir?” he asked.
“Ready, Mr. Collins.” I widened my stance and rolled my shoulders.
“Oorah,” he yelled, jumped forward, and the battle was on.