How the Years Lost Our Secrets

Back then, there were secrets. I could see it in her eyes, that momentary hesitation before she spoke. Of course, we both lied, often to ourselves more than to each other.

Somehow, though, that time passed, the lies faded, and those secrets were hidden away as we tried to forget them. Occasionally a memory, a thought of other times, other places, other women, would cross my mind. Sometimes too, I saw Fiona staring off into the distance as if some memory lay on the horizon and she was wondering whether to acknowledge it, or let it sail away from this desert island where she was stranded with me.

We knew each other long before we married, but it was during those early years, when we became strangers to each other. I worked away for a while, across the country, going into the far north while she stayed behind. There were days then when I thought I would never go back. But every time I closed my eyes it would be Fiona I saw, never these other women. Now I can’t remember much about them, sometimes not even their names. I search Facebook occasionally, when I can recall enough of one of their names. But each photo is the photo of some stranger, and I struggle to remember details of their lives, wondering if that stranger is the women I woke up next to all those years ago.

I gave up that job in the north eventually, walked away from it and back to Fiona. She was ill, severe flu, and I nursed her. I lay there each night, next to her hot sweaty body, listening to her ragged breathing as sleep eluded me.

One night, not long after her fever broke, I woke in the night to find her lying against me. She held me as she used to back when we first began sleeping together. It was as if all those years of distance had gone.

She woke free of the fever and no longer with sore red nose and eyes. She looked up at me from where her head lay on my chest.

She made to speak, but I shook my head.

‘Let’s carry on like this,’ I said. ‘Let’s go back to how it used to be.’

She nodded slowly and then lay back down on my chest. I could feel the damp tickle of her eyelashes against my skin as she tried to blink the tears clear.

We never spoke again of those lost years. The children came along and we discovered those things in each other we thought we’d lost. Unlike so many couples who seem to grow distant and separate as the years pass and time takes its toll, we grew back together instead of further apart. We found we still liked each other, as well as still loved each other.

Then, in what seems like less that a moment, less than an eye blink, the children grew and moved away. We sat together; Fiona and I, watching each other turn first grey, then white.

Occasionally, one of those secrets emerges from the mists, but now we only look as if seeing some landmark pass on the road, never stopping. Just a glance as we move on, journeying down this road towards the end, side by side.

 

8 thoughts on “How the Years Lost Our Secrets

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    It is so true that if you’re lucky, and you weather the storms, once the kids are gone you can find why you made the decision to be together – again. Glad to hear you have that. I do, too, and it is very much appreciated.

    But there are the occasional memories to taunt us – we’re human.

      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        That’s what first person is for: intimacy. Empathy, more than sympathy.
        If you don’t need two pov characters in a story, first person can make it seem very real. Lolita, and Sue Grafton’s mysteries, share that feeling.
        Not that you can’t achieve empathy in third person, multiple pov stories.
        But I’ve found the stories which have multiple FIRST person characters just don’t work for me. The first person makes me identify that little bit more with the character, and I don’t like that yanked away and then conferred on several other characters. Margaret Atwood’s Life Before Man does this, and I didn’t like it. Other people may not even notice.

          1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I have not yet seen it done well, and I think it’s because I associate first person with a story being somehow real – and I can’t obviously believe that three contradictory stories are also real, unless I’m in analyzing mode, and that’s not how I want to read.
            You can immerse yourself completely in separate characters written in third person, as intimately as first person, without the little mental jerk of switching to another intimate first person.

          2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I’m old-fashioned. I find head-hopping – a staple in the Romance genre – unreadable. But apparently those readers (and they are legion) are doing just fine that way.
            Wish I could change, but I’m having enough trouble just being myself lately! I drool over the market (but it is already very full of much more nimble writers than I will ever be, so maybe that’s just as well).

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