Another Fiction as Daylog. This one, amazingly enough, was not written by free-associating from a random dictionary word.

Don't Regret A Single Day

She had a tenacious grasp on the notion that pleasure could not exist without pain.

She worked a job that bored her so that she could enjoy going home every day; married a man who she loved to avoid; owned a dog when she wanted a cat so that she could savor the times when she was away from the dog, or when she saw cats in windows or walking around in her neighborhood; lived in a house that she kept messy, though she liked neatness, so that she could enjoy cleaning up, in a gated neighborhood that she could stay inside to avoid; cooked and ate food she didn't like in order to keep herself alive so that she could keep enjoying the time she spent away from the job and the man and the dog and the house. The time she enjoyed the most was the time that was devoid of the things that people believed to define her.

She was well aware that anticipation was the best part of getting something you wanted.

She dreamed of moving away from the messy house in the sterile neighborhood; of divorcing the man she didn't love; of quitting the job which paid well but crushed her spirit a little more each day; of some day having a fabulous meal in a fancy restaurant. Her husband offered to take her out to fancy restaurants and she mentioned ones she hated so that she could endure the awkward silence and disagreeable food while she waited to pay the check and get out. The rule that ran her life was to withhold satisfaction at all times. She spent one day a month - a Sunday, since she worked six days a week - doing nothing, and every month she ached for that Sunday to come so that she could spend time away from all the things she loved to hate.

Everything else - finding cats, meeting people she actually liked, eating food that she enjoyed - she left to chance. When she was pleasantly surprised, she was very pleasantly surprised indeed. Her life was a litany of unpleasantness punctuated with spikes of joy which were all the higher for being so few and far between.

Had she taken the time to get to know her husband better, she might have been interested and amused to find out his philosophy.

If his wife's unspoken two-word mantra was "withhold satisfaction," his was "instant gratification."

He married her because she was beautiful and she made a lot of money, and he did things he liked to do and things that made him feel good. He watched sports and played sports, smoked pot and ate Doritos, read books and played video games, gave money to beggars, took his wife out to what he thought were restaurants that she liked and paid for their meals using what was mostly her money. He bought expensive gifts for her, for his friends, for himself, and he loved dogs and made sure to keep one at all time. He did enough cleaning up around the house so that he didn't feel bad for not doing any housework.

He thought he had a pretty good idea of how to live life to the fullest.

He woke his beautiful wife up at 5:30 a.m. so they could watch the sun rise, and he was somewhat disappointed, but at least he could say he had done it. He might have been more pleased with himself if his wife had told him how much she had enjoyed it, particularly if he had known her attitude toward him in general. He bought an expensive stereo system so that he could listen to good music the way it was meant to be listened to, at least when he wasn't at concerts. He had bungee jumped and sky dived and hang glided. He read books that everyone said you had to read and watched movies that everyone said you had to see on his big-screen TV.

He strode through his life, determined to enjoy himself as much as possible, and to do it all. When he found something he liked to do, he moved on, because there was still more to try. His life was a series of leaps from one peak to the next, never becoming dull or unpleasant, never going any higher than it had been before.

They went on leading their lives and pursuing happiness, separate but somehow together at all times. Strangely, they were never unfaithful to each other. They made love frequently enough to keep him happy, and if she never came, she knew she would just be all the more surprised when at last she did. He kept chasing pleasures, and she kept putting them off, and in their own ways, they both attained what they sought, and perhaps while they both suspected that their marriage was lacking something, they also knew they needed each other to get what they were constantly striving for.

And when he lay on his deathbed, he held his wife's hand and cried and asked her why he felt like there was something he was missing, or something he had misunderstood, and she said she didn't know and told him she loved him and surprised herself when she realized that it was true. He smiled at her, and said she hadn't said that in as long as he could remember, and she realized that she couldn't remember ever having said it either, and then he died, and she surprised herself even more when she wept bitterly and wondered why she felt like she had misunderstood something as well.

The day after the funeral, she retired from her job. Although it felt as good as she expected, it wasn't as wonderful as she hoped it could be. A week later, she bought a cat. But she kept the dog, to remember her husband. Somehow she had grown rather fond of it, and she wondered how that could have happened, and what it meant to her that pain could turn to pleasure without her noticing. And she thought about what to do with the rest of her life.