“Cut it out, Chris,” Lisa said, swatting behind her to remove her husband’s playful hands from her butt. “If you don’t stop, I’m never going to get this stuff ready to go.”
“Leave it,” he told her, putting his arms around her waist and pulling her away from the counter.
Again, she broke his hold. “No way,” she insisted, turning to face him. “After all that craziness last night, I need this road trip now more than ever." She pushed him away, trying to guide him out of the kitchen. “Now, go.”
Chris stepped back, and Lisa turned back to her work. Her husband watched her for a second before reaching up to trace her bra-line through the back of her sleeveless blouse. “So,” he asked playfully, “is she coming with us?”
Lisa spun back to face him, again pushing his hand away. “It,” she corrected him in a suddenly serious tone, “is in the hamper in the laundry room." She looked like she was going to say more but, after a second, just turned back to the counter.
Chris eyed his wife's stiff back for a second. “It?” he repeated, unable to keep the concern out of his voice. “That’s a bit cold, isn’t it?”
Lisa let out a slow sigh before replying. “Maybe, but it has to be. The sooner I start thinking about that bra as just my underwear again the better.”
Chris noticed that she was making it a point not to look at him, and there was something in her voice that made him want to question her further. Before he could, however, the sound of a horn came from outside. Lisa stood on her toes and looked out the window over the sink. “It's Mike,” she told him.
Chris looked over her shoulder to see the mail-truck sitting on the curb at their box. “Must have something that has to be signed for,” he reasoned.
“Good,” Lisa said, turning back and pushing him toward the door. She had a playful look back on her face, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. “You go take care of that. By the time you get back, I should be finished getting this stuff together.”
Chris gave her a quick peck on the lips, and turned to go. At the kitchen door, he turned back to watch her for a second. She was getting a pitcher of tea from the fridge to pour into a thermos. Obviously, something was bothering her, but he knew her well enough to know that she wouldn’t tell him what it was until she was good and ready. With a sigh of his own, he headed out to meet the mailman.
And since he was outside, he didn’t hear the crash that came from the kitchen a few moments later.
"Good morning, Mike," Chris said as he came down the front walk of his house.
"Morning, Mr. Harris," the man in the mail-truck smiled. "And how's that pretty young wife of yours today? She ready to run off with a handsome older man yet?"
Despite his concern about Lisa, Chris had to smile. "Not yet," he said, "but I'll tell her you offered."
"You do that." He reached up and pulled his clipboard off the dash. "Got a registered letter for ya," he said, holding it out to Chris. "Just sign here."
Chris took the pen and wrote his name on the line that Mike had marked for him. The mailman took the clipboard back and tore off the receipt, placing it on the top of a pile of mail before handing it all over to Chris. "There ya go, Mr. Harris. You have yourself a nice day now."
"Thanks, Mike. You, too."
As the truck pulled away, Chris pulled the letter that he had to sign for off the stack and read the return address. He stopped in his tracks when he saw that it from the same law firm that had sent him his Grandpa's wand the day before. Curious, he tucked the rest of the mail under his arm, and opened the envelope.
Inside, he found a single sheet of paper and a smaller sealed envelope. The paper was a simple letter explaining that, as part of his will, his Grandpa had instructed the firm to send him the enclosed letter and a package that was shipped separately. Figures, Chris thought with a smile. Well, I guess I know what this is about. He opened the other envelope and pulled out the letter inside.
Instantly, he recognized his Grandpa's writing. Reading through slowly, he smiled again. As he had expected, the letter explained that he was going to get the wand and that there was more he should know. Yeah, like if you're not real careful, you could end up turning your wife into a pink satin nightie. He quickly read through his Grandpa's instructions on how to use the wand, which he'd pretty much learned on his own the night before, and moved on to the part of the letter that explained what his Grandpa referred to as "the rules".
The first rule actually solved a mystery for Chris. His entire life, he'd wondered how his Grandpa had managed to change the orange back into an apple. Now, he knew. Just like his Grandpa always told him, all changes made by the wand were temporary, lasting only about twelve hours. After that, a transformed object returns to its natural state. Finding this out actually gave Chris a feeling of relief. It was nice to know that if he hadn't figured out what he'd done to her, Lisa would have still been alright eventually.
Reading on, he looked over the rest of the "rules". As he did, his eyes got steadily wider. "Oh, crap!" he spit out, before suddenly turning and rushing back into the house.
"Lisa!" he called urgently, as he came into their living room. Not getting an answer, he quickly crossed the room, taking just a second to drop the mail, including his Grandpa's letter, on the coffee table. "Lisa?" he called again, as he stopped in the kitchen doorway. He looked quickly around, but didn't see her anywhere in the room.
He was starting to go check the bedroom, when he heard a strange dripping sound. Following the sound, he saw the tea pitcher that Lisa had taken out of the fridge lying on its side on the counter. The tea had spilled out and was slowly dripping over the edge, but the noise it produced didn't sound like it was hitting the tile floor. Edging around the small table in the center of the room, he saw why. On the floor beneath the pitcher, lying in a crumple heap and soaked with tea, was Lisa's clothes. Looking closer, Chris saw a flash of pink satin through the open sleeve of the blouse. "Lisa!" he shouted.
His first instinct was to rush over and get his wife, but Chris fought it, realizing that time was probably running out for him, as well. "Hang on, Sweetheart," he shouted, as he turned to go. "I need to find the wand."
He ran back across the living room and down the short hall to their bedroom. Looking around in a panic, he spotted the wand lying on Lisa's vanity where he'd place it the night before. Wasting no time, he rushed over, grabbed it up, and headed back for the kitchen to, once again, restore his wife.
He was halfway across the living room, when he heard a loud crash come from the direction of the laundry room. As the noise subsided, he heard what sounded like Lisa's voice coming from the same direction. "What the hell?" it said. Confused, Chris stopped in his tracks. He looked back and forth between the closed laundry room door and the kitchen. Then, the confusion left his face as he seemed to figure it out.
"Oh, right," he said with a nod.
A second later, he disappeared and his clothes dropped empty to the floor in front of the coffee table.
Next: The Rules