After a long day at work arguing with a sexist male coworker who was convinced her pregnancy hormones would get in the way of her work efficiency (oh, how she wanted to punch Brad in his snooty face), Aria was more than pleased to get in Ezra’s ratty yellow Hollis shirt and a pair of overalls to start her painting. As soon as she’d flipped over the stick and found it pink along with four other ones, she was looking forward to starting the baby’s room as a way to unwind after what felt like months of stress packed in a few weeks.
She set down the blue, green, yellow, and red paints and pulled her hair back out of her face. She laid out the tarp, taped part of the walls, and pried open the paint cans with a screwdriver. Yup, pregnancy was so getting in her way of doing anything right.
She was painting the outline of an elephant (she and Ezra, though they knew they were having a girl, decided on a gender-neutral animal theme) when she heard the door open and close from the hallway, indicating Ezra’s arrival. Wiping some paint on her hands on her pants, she set down the brush and stood up, wobbling on the way. Okay, maybe standing up was a bit challenging. But emotionally she felt refreshed and ready to paint this room, binge-watch a season of Friends, and write an award-winning short story piece that she knew her boss was going to love—all in one night. Hormonal secretion of determination, she called it, because it certainly wasn’t there six months ago.
“Hey!” Ezra greeted perkily, and Aria raised a strong eyebrow in question of his quick change of clothes. “You got out of your tie and sweater vest that quickly?” she asked, since he had just gotten home, like, less than a minute ago.
“Just couldn’t wait to come home to everything great,” was his slick reply and Aria let him kiss her cheek and rub some paint off of it with his thumb as she rolled her eyes. “Can I join in on the party?”
“Oh no, you’re not messing this up.” She pointed a paintbrush dripping in gray paint at him. “If anything, paint clouds and some grass, but that’s it.”
Nodding his head in agreement, Ezra said, “I can handle that,” and picked up a new paintbrush. By the time Aria finished the elephant, she looked over and saw Ezra concentrating furiously on one small, puffy cloud. He was trying to shadow it and it had backfired. “Need some help?” she asked while slightly struggling to get up on her feet, her bulging stomach in the way as usual.
"Maybe I should just stick to one dimensional, no-shadowing-or-anything-that-makes-art-amazing art,” he commented, followed by a sigh. While Aria fixed his poor painting job and jokingly poked fun at him, Ezra silently and stealthily grabbed another brush. “Wait, you missed a spot.” And he smoothed the paint over her cheek.
Aria was barely able to react when Ezra wrapped his arms around her from behind and brushed a smiley face on her bulging stomach. “Ezra!” she shrieked and tried to squirm away, but she was laughing too hard, some paint getting in her mouth.
Of course Ezra could tell Aria was a little agitated when he got home, and of course he wanted to take her mind off that. Nothing was more distracting than a little paint war. He let her go and she lunged for her paint brush, turning around rapidly and flicking paint at him before he could attack her again. Aria could see they were right in front of the elephant she’d so diligently painted and she put her hands up. “No! Not in front of the elephant!” And they paused and moved to the other side of the bare room and continued to hash it out.
“Nooo,” Aria jokingly whined as she tried to fight off Ezra, who again had her pinned down and was painting something on her pregnant belly. “She doesn’t like your painting.”
“How can you tell?” Ezra asked, continuing with his dog painting on her denim overalls even as she slapped his neck and cheek with paint.
“Because she’s kicking like crazy,” she explained, flinching a little as her bladder was punched. “And if you don’t stop, I might just pee all over this floor.”
“Okay, okay.” Ezra surrendered, putting his brush down and his hands up in peace. “I’m done.”
Aria got his nose and smiled triumphantly. “There. Now we’re done.” In retaliation, Ezra rubbed the paint on his nose into, yes, the belly bump again as Aria protested yet again. “Stop or I’ll pee right now.”
As Aria had claimed, the baby sure was kicking. “Want to take a break?” he asked her as he put his hand over where the baby’s foot was going, almost like she was giving him a high five. “This little one could certainly use it.”
“Sure,” Aria agreed and attempted to get up for the one hundredth time that day. Some things just don’t get better with experience. Ezra stood up and gave her his hands, pulling her up while warning her about spending too much time around the paint fumes; they walked into the bedroom, changed clothes, and huddled in bed to watch Friends.
Aria waited until Ezra had drifted off into sleep to get up and continue painting. Fifteen minutes later she heard a small creak outside the door and casually yelled out, “Don’t you dare even think about coming in here.” As Ezra yelled out a defeated “Dang it!” Aria grinned contently and placed one hand over her bump. “You’re lucky,” she talked to her unborn child. “Some people don’t have dads as immature as yours.”