Tara sat in the midst of a tangled pit of Christmas lights, face lit up with every color of the rainbow.
"Well, at least they still work," Roger said, stepping over the left side of the mess with care and unplugging it from the wall.
"No thanks to you Roger." Tara began to pick apart two strings of lights, weaving the unplugged end over, under, and through.
"Don't start Tara." Roger sat down on the couch and turned on the game.
"Why shouldn't I? All of my decorations are up." Cheers erupted from the TV as the announcer called first down.
"I work all week Tara. I don't need this shit."
"Work. You mean the 'work' that is barely paying our bills. I make almost as much as you doing transcriptions." Tara yanked the free end of the lights through a nodule of tangled ones, popping off a light with a small 'snap'.
"The game is on. Stop being so loud."
"Are you at least going to put them up?"
Roger shifted on the couch and opened the tab on his Colt 45. The hiss of carbonation filled a break in the announcers' commentary. "I thought you could do that. There's a college game on after this."
"Oh really? And what if I have something else to do?" Tara spread the nodule apart and then began to maneuver the free end of the lights in and out, destroying the weave.
"You don't have anything to do. I can't go out there anyway, it'll give me a cold."
"Are you that big of a pussy now Roger?" Tara felt the points of tiny lights dig into her palm. Relax girl, she thought, don't let his five year old bullshit get to you.
"What did you call me?" Roger sat forward, beer in one hand, other in a fist on his thigh.
"I called you a pussy. It's an appropriate term for a man who won't go outside in the cold."
"You need to get off your high horse Tara. You're a secretary, for Christ's sake."
"I'm a Transcriptionist, dumb ass."
"What did you call me?" Roger got up from the couch and leaned over the coffee table, his face spitting distance from Tara's.
"You heard me. Watch your stupid game and leave me alone." Tara took up the strings of lights again and began unweaving the strands, head down and focused on her work.
Roger snarled at the back of her head. "What did you call me, bitch?"
"You heard me. Now sit down."
Roger growled, then spit the mucus at Tara's head, covering her hair in viscous gel.
Tara spun and used her hands to push herself up to a standing position. She leaned down and grabbed the closest strings of lights, whipping them around to slap Roger in the face. Then she grabbed an end in each hand, jumped onto his back, and threw her improvised garrote over his head. It fell on his chest.
Roger was too concerned with trying to pull Tara off of him to even feel the lights hit him. He dumped beer all over them both trying to throw his can of Colt 45 at her head, then grabbed at Tara's upper arms. Tara didn't stop, barely felt his hands on her or the beer running down her back. Adrenaline sustained her, giving her hands the strength to keep pulling the ends of the strings, planting her feet on Roger and throwing all her weight back to put pressure against his neck.
It was too much. The tree went down under their combined weight, pine branches snapping and filling the room with the smell of Christmas cheer and new-to-you used cars. Tara felt the needles dig into her back, fill up her hair. She wrapped her legs around Roger's midsection and squeezed, making it almost impossible for him to fling her off. He was always a skinny little drunk, Tara thought, as she felt the last tremors of Roger's life vibrate her thighs. He might have screamed, but she couldn't hear. She didn't care.
The lights reclaimed from around Roger's neck, Tara pushed him off of her and stood.
"Should've given me a golden ring," she breathed, as she stared down at his body, the neck covered in bright red dots from the points of the lights.