Written by Deby Fredericks / Artwork by Holly Eddy
For Couples Only

















It looked so good in the commercials: a house that re-made itself to suit every mood. And Teddy had loved it at
first. They'd be making dinner, him and Katherine, but when she took his hand and smiled into his eyes, the walls
would peel back and swivel into trees. Counters would sink into moss or sand. The boring, ordinary kitchen would
disappear into a romantic vista of misty waterfall or tropical beach.

Yeah, Katharine really loved that beach.

The best house money can buy, that's what the salesman had said. Your own little world. Only he hadn't told them
what happened when you got into a fight with your wife.

Now Teddy stood just inside the front door. Icy air hit him like a slap in the face, and snowdrifts buried the living
room furniture. Wan blue light drained all color from the bouquet of roses he held.

"Sweetheart," he called. Snow squeaked as he set his lunch box down. "Katharine?"

He waited, shivering. His blue shop coat wasn't much help against the frigid atmosphere. Katharine didn't answer.
He knew she was home, though. If she hadn't been there, the house wouldn't have looked like this.

Well, it was his house, too. He knew a few of its tricks. You had to work with it, not try to take over the scene.
Teddy concentrated, despite chattering teeth and the white stuff melting into his work boots. A slight pressure and
his overalls puffed into a ski bib. The shop coat became a down vest.

"Where are you, honey?" Teddy called.

He waded through snow to the kitchen. Nothing there but a shining fringe of icicles on the cabinets. In the hall, his
feet skidded out from under him.

"Whoa!" Teddy caught himself on the door frame. The roses nearly got pinned between him and the wall. He looked
them over anxiously. Crimson buds sparkled with frost, but they were intact.

Heart pounding, he rested for a moment. The hardwood floor in the hallway was a solid sheet of ice. He drew a
breath and the cold made his fillings ache. Change brushed over his feet as work boots turned into ice skates.

Cradling the bouquet, he shoved off the wall and glided cautiously down the corridor. The bathroom door stood
open to a scene as chilly as the rest of the house, so he continued on to the bedroom.

The door was closed. Teddy knocked. "Katharine?"

Muffled noises came from behind it. He took that as permission to enter.

It was snowing in the bedroom, trickles of white that traced a stinging chill down his face. Frost bristled from every
curve of the bed frame. At the window, a figure completely covered in parka, mittens and boots faced away from
him. His wife.

"I'm sorry," Teddy said. He offered the frozen flowers to her back. Katharine didn't look around.

"I thought you were working overtime." Her brittle voice came muffled through a thick scarf. "I thought Boltmaster
had some kind of huge order that couldn't wait."

"You were right—I'm not married to Boltmaster. I told Jelderks I couldn't do it."

Fabric whispered as Katharine turned to stare at him. Teddy saw her eyes, shining inside the cavern of hood and
scarf. He shuffled across the room, balancing on his skates, and offered the roses again.

"No more overtime. You come first. I promise."

"Oh, Teddy!"

His wife kicked through the drifts toward him. As she hugged him, he wobbled and lost his balance.

"Look out!" Teddy managed to twist so that they didn't crack their spines on the footboard, but he had to sacrifice
the roses. He felt tiny snaps and pops as frozen blossoms were squashed between them.

"I'm so sorry," Katharine straightened. "Are you hurt?"

"Fine." Shards of petals and stems were crushed between their heavy coats. He tossed a handful into the air,
showering them with bits of red and green. "Happy new year!"

She laughed, brushing at icy tears on her eyelashes. Their eyes met, and he felt a familiar tingle. Already the room
was getting warmer. Snow melted away as the walls started to move, sliding back toward summer.

Katharine seized the advantage. "I asked my mom over for dinner," she said, daring him to object.

Teddy glanced at the diamond sparkle of frost on the mirror. Marian wasn't bad as mothers-in-law went, but he
knew she didn't approve of their house. She said it was too extravagant. He was afraid to think about what would
happen if all three of them got into an argument. Probably a tornado.

"Okay," he said, "but let's take her out to dinner."
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but thought of it as just
a fun hobby until the late 1990s. Her first sale, a children's poem,
was in 2000. Since then she has published six fantasy novels with
two small presses. The latest is
The Grimhold Wolf, from Sky Warrior
Book Publishing. In addition, her children's poetry and short stories
have appeared in
Boys' Life, Ladybug Magazine, and others.  

She blogs at wyrmflight.wordpress.com and her web site is
www.debyfredericks.com.