Jared and Iris' first big fight as husband and wife was pretty typical: it was over something immensely stupid.

Somehow, Jared managed to get two traffic tickets within three months. These happened just a few months before their wedding. With the general chaos that comes with planning major events, and coupled with the fact that Jared and Iris are organizational failures, these tickets were lost in their piles of "important documents".

For those of you who are perfect drivers and therefore don't know, you're only allowed into the "traffic improvement class" if you bring your traffic citation, traffic school registration forms, and driver's license with you. If you forget any one of these items, then you may as well forget about taking that ticket off your record. So, instead of gathering these items in advance, Jared and Iris were scrambling around the house, late the night before, trying to find everything.

Iris was pissed. First, she was mad because he shouldn't have been speeding in the first place. Second, Jared seemed to not care that these tickets would end up costing them nearly $300. Third, he really should have gotten his paperwork together much earlier. Fourth, she really didn't think it was her responsibility to bail him out.

"I don't see them anywhere, babe," Jared called from behind the paper heaps in his office. "This sucks because then I can't go tomorrow."

"Like hell you're not going!" Iris shouted back. "Have you checked the garbage cans, or are you waiting for me to do that?" She was driving herself into a really bad mood, and she knew it. She could picture Jared languidly ruffling through his paper stacks while surfing Internet porn. He never put in the energy that she did, he always counted on her to come through in the end.

"Jesus, you're gonna make me look through the garbage," she muttered, as she overturned the wastebasket. She sat down with a sigh, and started sorting through their junk mail. Jared emerged from his office and sat down next to her, watching as she ignored him and focused on the task. Within five minutes (the wastebasket was really, really full), Iris squealed triumphantly. In her hand was Jared's traffic citation.

"How the hell'd it end up in here? I didn't throw it in the trash," he cast a look at her as he tucked the citation in his pocket.

"Well I wouldn't throw them away, either!" Iris huffed. She took a breath and refocused. "OK. Let's see if your other stuff is. right here!" She handed it to him with a relieved grin. Then she noticed some other green, traffic-looking documents, for the second citation. "You'll need this one too, right? For next time?" she handed it over.

Jared tossed it in the pile of garbage without so much as a glance. "No, I don't care about that one." Iris turned red, eyes blazing. She picked up a Victoria's Secret catalog and swatted Jared on the knee with it. It was a little harder than she meant it to be - she was pretty mad.

Jared pulled back with a deadly look. Iris recoiled. "What the hell's wrong with you?" He stared at her for several seconds. "You don't hit me." They stared silently at each other. Iris started getting nervous. She really only meant to swat him. Abruptly, Jared stood up and went down the hall. The walls shook when he slammed his office door.

Iris wanted to follow him and apologize, or at least explain herself. But then again, if he left and closed the door, maybe he wants to be alone, she thought. She took a few deep breaths, put the trash back in the basket, and sat down on the couch, with the other traffic-looking document in her lap. I'll just wait here for him to come out, and then I'll apologize. She felt nervous as the silent minutes passed by.

"You won't even apologize for hitting me?" His voice dripped with venom. Iris turned quickly. Damn, he's really mad.

"Well, I'm sorry-"

"'Sorry'means nothing if I have to ask for it," Jared snapped. "I don't want to live in a house where you hit me, and I hit you back, and we start calling each other names-"

"I thought you wanted to be alone! So I waited here-" Iris' voice climbed higher as she felt her pulse quicken.

"You should have apologized," he said in an accusing tone.

"Then you shouldn't have run off," she snapped back. Again, a tense silence fell over them as they stared at each other. Jared turned and slammed his hand against the wall, shattering the light switch.

Iris was beyond nervous now. She wouldn't admit it, but she was very frightened. Slowly, she rose from the couch and slipped out the back door, and sat down on the steps. She took several deep breaths, trying to calm down. But instead, each breath she took became more ragged as she tried unsuccessfully to suppress the whimpery sob rising from her throat. I can't be here. Her keys were in her pocket. So she left.

Jared and Iris' families lived within fifteen minutes of their house. She started toward her parents' house, but quickly changed her mind. Her parents already disliked Jared, so showing up at their house late at night and crying was not a good idea. After all, Iris wanted "good" support, that is, kind words that would make her feel better, and send her home with loving thoughts about Jared. So she turned right, heading toward Roy and Sandi's.

Iris liked Sandi. She always had a good outlook on things, and lived her life without bitterness toward the people who screwed her over. Iris wished she could be more like that, but her desire to make people pay for their transgressions was too strong, and often led to regretful actions. Yep, that sort of happened tonight, stupid me, she thought. As she drove, she imagined how they might react to her. Iris was sure Sandi would put her on the right track. However, Roy would probably overreact, take things into his own hands, call Jared and start badgering him. Then Jared would get angry and tell Roy to mind his own fucking business. Then Roy would tell Jared to go to hell, slam the phone down and start crying. no, Iris couldn't possibly go to Roy and Sandi's, either. Roy, for all his good intentions, was a loose cannon. She drove aimlessly for a few minutes, refusing to believe that there was, indeed, nowhere for her to run. She had nowhere else to go except home - the one she had made with Jared. A large, painful knot rose in her throat as her mouth contorted painfully.

"I don't want to go back!" Iris screamed over and over between sobs. This realization sucked. There was no escape, every second she spent in the car was only a delay of the inevitable - she eventually would have to return home. She felt so lonely in her despair as she drove by the well- manicured homes of other families, all having peacefully gone to sleep by now. She couldn't drive anymore - she couldn't see because of the tears - so Iris pulled into the church parking lot. The church door was locked. This never happens in the movies, dammit, she cursed, as she returned to her car and slumped her head onto the steering wheel. She screamed for a long, long time. When she started feeling truly stupid and repetitive, she pulled out and headed home.

Iris hated how ridiculous she looked after crying. Her nose and eyes were red, and it was so obvious that she sobbed her eyes out. Nevertheless, she drew herself up and tried to act as if she didn't just lose her mind in the car while she unlocked the back door.

She heard Jared at the keyboard in his office, with the door close. Good, she thought. She washed her face, changed her clothes and went to bed.


Jared left the next morning before Iris woke up. She was only slightly relieved that she didn't have to deal with him. She didn't know if he even came to bed last night, and that bothered her.

She went through the morning in a numb, zombie state. Part of her really wanted to torture Jared, make him feel so much pain that he would never make her feel like that again. But part of her also knew there was no place for that in a good marriage. What was it the priest kept saying in their engagement encounter weekend? Something about being life-giving. Dammit, I don't want to be life-giving, I want to be life-TAKING, Iris grumbled inwardly. But her anger - and Jared's anger, more importantly - were going to make her insane. Or at least give her a massive headache.

She could start making him pay by starving him - there was no food near the traffic school - but instead she picked up some sandwiches and hopped on the freeway. Hopefully Jared wouldn't still be pissed at her. She was sure she couldn't bear it if he were the least bit hostile toward her, and knew she wouldn't react well and say something she'd truly regret. well, maybe she was getting ahead of herself. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

Iris walked through the halls, peeking through the windows for her husband. It was hard, because every class seemed to be watching a very boring movie. The rooms were darkened, the students were slumped in their seats, eyes glazed and heads leaning heavily against their hands. She couldn't find him, but he saw her immediately. She noticed a head pop up with interest, and knew it was Jared. A few minutes later, the movie ended and they students were let out for lunch hour.

The door opened and Iris could tell immediately that the air conditioning, if there was any, was grossly inadequate. Crowds of people shoved past her, until finally Jared emerged from the warm room. His face looked pale, as if he didn't sleep the night before. Wordlessly he pulled her into his arms into a long, tight embrace. Iris melted slightly into his arms and closed her eyes. I guess I don't need to be defensive right now, she smiled. She looked up at Jared when his embrace finally loosened. "I brought sandwiches."

They sat under a tree as they ate quietly. They were both just relieved that the fighting was over, and slightly amazed that they could recover after such anger the night before.

"You really scared me with the light switch," Iris said, trying to sound light. Jared looked up sheepishly.

"I really only meant to turn off the light!"

"Yeah, with your FIST?" she teased.

"Well you hit ME," he shot back.

"I know, and really, I didn't mean to actually hit you so hard," she said truthfully. "But you're scary when you're mad. I didn't like that."

"Yeah me neither," he admitted. "That pretty much sucked. And I'm glad you showed up."

"Me too," Iris replied, finally feeling more like herself. "I sort of didn't know what to expect - I was preparing myself to just say, 'here's your stinkin' sandwich, you bastard,' but then you hugged me." Jared raised his eyebrows.

"Well damn. I'm glad you didn't because this is what I really needed. You know, like redemption for a stupid act."

"Yeah. Me too."