Trust Left Outbyjuanwildone©
"Secrets Held In" is a short story written by Sir Semega. [That said, most of the salient points are restated in this story] It was presented with an invitation to write your own ending. Well, I did and this is mine.
To say I didn't know what would happen next, between Doris (my wife) and me, well that turned out to be the understatement of the century. The next morning, when I awoke I was fully rested and refreshed - maybe for the first time in years. I showered and even though I put on yesterdays clothes - I felt better. My brother Charlie noticed and gave me a strange look, as if to say 'you think you feel okay but you really don't.'
Last night I'd arrived on his doorstep still reeling from an unplanned revelation. Early in our marriage I uncovered my wife's workplace affair, at the time I had sought so desperately to remain married that I dealt with her transgressions by burying the knowledge deep within me. The result being I compromised my health due to the internal conflict of disgust and desire for my wife. Recently her behaviors had reminded me of that painful time and in a moment of anger my hidden knowledge was revealed. Doris was stunned, while I simply had to be free of her presence; hence the impromptu sleep-over at my brother's place.
Last night I confessed it all to him, everything I'd done, everything I'd suffered. So it didn't bother me that my brother thought my current behavior odd, he now understood the price I'd paid. I wouldn't be surprised if he thought my feeling so good would be temporary at least and possibly traumatic in the long run. I just smiled at his concerns; I simply felt renewed.
Charlie treated me to breakfast at a local diner where I enjoyed an excellent crab omelet; I forget what he had. I do remember that he was fairly amused by my clumsy efforts at flirting with our waitress. I had the last laugh as she reacted to my double entendre laden good-bye by laughingly calling me a dirty old man then informing me that her shift was over at two. That's when Charlie steered our conversation back to my marriage.
"So big brother what's next? You're more than welcome to crash at my place." My lack of concern (I just shrugged my shoulders) surprised him. He started to speak then stopped. Charlie looked at me with fresh eyes (that's the only way I can describe it.) "I've never been where you are Frank. To tell you the truth I don't know anyone who has been where you are. Do you have any idea where this is all going? I mean now that it's all out in the open it might be time for counseling or something?"
I wasn't a lot of help in committing to anything. One of the little known byproducts of this strange feeling of liberation is that I wasn't inclined to take any new positions. Decisions seem constricting, opinions less than compelling, the future -- vague - too far away yet surprisingly full of possibilities. Yeah - weird.
I did make one decision as my brother and I talked, it was time for me to return home and talk with Doris. Surprisingly it did not make me feel anxious. I thanked my brother for being my brother and left. As I got closer to home I felt an unfamiliar calm envelope me - which puzzled me. I parked in my usual spot, picked up the paper, and opened the door. I realized I was smiling.
Doris stood at the end of the foyer, eyes red from crying and unleashed a torrent of words, phrases and exclamations. The few that were recognizable were, "Oh Frank, where have you been?" and far too many variations of "sorry" from "so" to "very," and on and on. She included an update of her status, "I've been calling you. I didn't know where you were. I can't imagine how you must feel." My wife was babbling, one word tumbling in on the other, sentences fracture and uncompleted, some in context - most not, and I can honestly say I'd never heard her babble before. The play of emotions across her face was fascinating and made one thing above all others clear - Doris was lost; she was adrift and had no bearings, no points of reference. Her frustration increased until she finally just quit talking and motioned toward the kitchen. "Coffee?"
I declined the offer of coffee but followed her to the kitchen. Doris prepared the coffee in silence, then forgetting my 'no thank you' she placed a cup in front of me anyway, "I could make something for you?"
"No need I already ate." That statement was met with a look of pure consternation. Then her eyes shifted down for a moment and her jaw visibly tightened. I was still smiling - it wasn't one of those twenty teeth showing, look how white my teeth are kind of smiles - just a slight upturn at the corners of my mouth. I could see that it bothered her.
"Last night when you left..." I was surprised, did she honestly think that she was going to make this about my reaction? Dragging last night into the discussion was a clear 'no-win' for her; no good would come out of that. Last night she had shrugged off my heartfelt concerns about our marriage as unnecessary, even foolish. Her long hours, missed calls, and the drop off in our sex life were all dismissed as me being childish. Then she teased me about the amount of time she was spending with "the dreamy and delicious Kevin Fricks." I freely admit that I did not take it well. My blatant jealousy was met with laughing derision. I responded by asking just what other services she might provide him. She literally slapped me for my curiosity and angrily threatened to leave me. Our crisis peaked when she demanded to know just when had she ever done anything to make me not trust her. My usual restraint utterly failed me.
"Not trust you? How about when you spread your legs for that fuck Gerald Sanders? How about then? You cheating cunt!"
It literally exploded out of me. By blurting out of my long-held secret I had - in the blink of an eye - extinguished Doris' anger and left her stunned and confused. My exit was a simple self defense mechanism - I had to be away from her - as much for my sanity as anything else.
"You want to talk about my walking out last night -- is that really the issue?" A calm mind is a very quick mind, if we were going to have any conversation this morning it was not going to be about me and my actions. That wasn't going to happen, not this day. There was a far more compelling subject matter.
"Shouldn't we clear up the matter of Gerald Sanders?" Doris twitched her head and let her mouth hang open. I stood up and pushed back from the table, "I need to change out of these clothes, then we can deal with you and good ol' Gerry."
I dumped my cup in the sink and rinsed it. I was surprised at the state of our bedroom, I guess I expected to see half-opened drawers with clothes strewn about - it was actually neat and tidy. I wondered if everything neat and tidy meant something - then decided it didn't. I surmised that Doris had simply fallen back on routine and taken comfort in it. I then remembered I'd showered earlier at my brother's place but habits are habits. I made it a very quick shower (more of a rinse and spin) and had just finished toweling off when the bathroom door opened. Doris was naked and in a flash I realized what she had in mind; I'll fuck him into getting past my affair. I moved towards her and saw a flicker of expectation in her eyes. Then I turned sideways keeping the towel between us and was past her before she could react. I called out a cheery "Waters still hot, take your time."
I turned into the bedroom and immediately noticed that our bed was freshly turned down. I dressed quickly and was out the door in seconds - I was not about to be caught in her sexual snare. You want to know what weird is? Weird is effortlessly turning away from the sex you were formerly so desperate to hold onto. Doris had made sex the coin of the realm in our marriage and I had happily concurred. It was apparent to me that an across-the-board revaluation was at hand. My wife eventually found me in the garage fiddling with my golf clubs.
"You're not going golfing are you?" There was an honest to goodness tremor in her voice. Surprisingly, I found myself feeling quite at ease. Maybe I was overdoing it but once again I was struck by her questioning my actions. It was beginning to piss me off; first the focus on my reaction last night, then the attempted ambush in the shower, now this. I decided to keep her off balance.
"I wasn't planning to, but..." I placed the club I was cleaning back in the bag. I could feel my smile coming back.
"I thought you wanted to talk?" she interjected. This was getting to be too good - almost. I looked at her and slowly shook my head; I even added a convincing sigh of disappointment.
"No, you've misunderstood me Doris. You need to talk. I'm willing to listen. Are you ready to talk? Because if you need more time to prepare..." I stood and made to hoist the clubs on my shoulder. "Hitting a bucket of balls might be a good idea. Give you some time..."
"No, I don't need more time to prepare." Oh there was some bite in her reply. I have to say I had loaded more than a little irony onto 'time to prepare' when I spoke those words. 'Time to prepare' was a common work related phrase for her; I'd been put-off countless times upon hearing it. Evidently she took some offense at my intended sarcasm. Too bad. For my part I was more than a little disappointed. The great thing about freedom is the feeling of confidence that comes with it. She knew I knew about Gerald Sanders, but I was willing to bet she didn't know about this.
"I meant nothing by it. It's just that," I paused for dramatic effect. I wanted to say this as calmly and clearly as possible. "When I confronted your lover and compelled him to dump you..." chew on that little nugget of news Mrs. Dolan "the price for my not telling his wife about your cheating (terminology is everything in a good argument and I was not going to let her characterize it as anything less than infidelity) was a full and detailed confession. He was very co-operative. I wouldn't want you leaving anything out."
"You talked to Gerry?"
"Actually, he did most of the talking. Did you ever meet his wife and son - very nice family? Nice home too." I was looking right at her and she couldn't hold my gaze.
"You went to his house?" Her expression asked if this situation couldn't possibly get any worse. I smiled and nodded.
"You sure you don't need more time?" I left out the sarcasm this time. "Okay, lets go inside and get comfortable. And Doris, I will accept nothing less than the full, complete, and absolute truth - it's imperative you leave nothing out!"
We walked back into the kitchen and I asked her to make us some coffee. I walked out of the kitchen so we couldn't speak, a cheap delaying tactic to be sure, but something was beginning to bother me. While she was making the coffee I thought about her reactions since I'd spill the beans about her adultery. So far she had spoken more than enough apologies and appeals for forgiveness, yet something was missing. I replayed our brief conversations and while I came up empty - but something wasn't right.
I heard a rattle of crockery and looked up to see Doris entering with a full coffee service in her hands - tray, carafe, cups and saucers, cream and sugar. She was smiling too. I watched as she set everything down and prepared our coffees, hers with cream and sugar, mine just cream. The coffee was perfect and I automatically complimented her on it. Her smile deepened and I saw a glimmer of confidence in her eyes.
"First off, Frank, I love you. I love you with all my heart. I cannot begin to express my regret for the pain I've put you through. I am so sorry. I don't presume to imagine your hurt or your disappointment...in me. I hope and pray that we can find a way to put this behind us."
Was she delaying again? What was it going to take to get an honest-to-goodness confession out of her? Did she want to see the actual evidence -- because as far as I was concerned reviewing the investigators report was not going to help her one little bit? Damn it woman I know what you did and you need to come clean. I didn't suffer all these years, enduring anxiety attacks, weight loss and the knowledge that you preferred another man before me just so you can gloss over it now with some stubborn insistence that an extended apology will be enough. I felt my patience drain away and a cold apathy flood in. It was time to go to the whip - hard.
"Gerry must had been a hell of a fuck, I mean really, you swallowed his cum long before you got around to swallowing mine. Perhaps I could list the sexual activities you performed with HIM first and how long it took you to finally do the same for me. Would that make this easier?"
"I ... we ... " Doris seemed to be in some kind of mental vapor lock. She slowly put her coffee down I guessed the little speech she had prepared was forgotten. I found my disappoint deepening and decided to lay it all out.
"I have to tell you Doris, hearing, to say nothing of SEEING all the things you did for your lover..." I let that hang in the air like a loud wet fart. Doris looked at me with the most profound expression of loss I'd ever seen. That's when it hit me. She had no idea how to spin this. There was no intention to truly confess, she felt no compulsion to explain herself; the bottom line was that no answers were going to be supplied. Had Doris actually intended to convince me that an apology alone was enough to get past this? Was she positioning me to put this behind us "oh honey, the past is past, it's time for us to move on and move forward into a newer, better marriage." Maybe she had a slogan prepared - "infidelity, it doesn't break the bonds of marriage, it makes them stronger." Damn her.
I felt flush with anger. I set my coffee down and stood. "You know on second thought, I think I will go hit that bucket of balls. You decide what you want to tell me while I'm gone."
I did go to the local driving range, but I didn't hit any balls. I did do a lot of thinking. All the evidence so far leaned toward Doris declining the opportunity to be honest with me - to face this straight on. I found myself moving toward the position that if she continued to evade being forthcoming upon my return, what was the use in my staying? I had found a way (at great personal cost) to live with and keep her cheating secret; no way was I going to live that lie again. And the strange thing was - I mean, I should've been bothered that I was even considering separation - instead the idea seemed perfectly logical. She hadn't known everything before. As much as she had hidden her infidelity, I had hidden my knowledge and response to it. That was over now. It was all out in the open. So what was wrong with this picture? I loved Doris, she loved me, and we could get through this - couldn't we?
I was idly ruminating on this while I watched some poor guy hit slice after wicked slice. It was captivating as he repeated the same fundamental error (basically he was not releasing the left side of his body and therefore blocking any hope for a follow-thru, hence his slice.) He kept slicing the ball all the while changing stance, adjusting his club position, and trying different variations of this and that. He knew something was going wrong, he just didn't know why all of his efforts were doomed to fail. There was no one to tell him what was wrong, so he didn't know why.
I was thunderstruck (the Brits prefer gobsmacked) by why? All of my efforts at protecting our marriage over the past eight years stood bare-assed naked in the glaring illumination of WHY? Why - I didn't know why! I didn't know why Doris turned away from intimacy with me and sought out (or succumbed to) Gerald Sanders. I didn't know why she willingly and enthusiastically gave to him what she denied me. I didn't know why she returned to our marriage. I didn't even know if she truly had. I didn't know. I realized I didn't know why about a great many things. Why didn't I know why?
I had worked my way through this before but all of those efforts were now revealed as meaningless. A new series of whys assailed me as I reexamined all of my previously held assumptions and decisions. Why hadn't I confronted her with my evidence, why hadn't I insisted on counseling or therapy, why had I settled for second place, why had I chosen to be the martyr in a possibly faithless marriage? I wanted our marriage to work; I knew that. Did Doris want our marriage to work? That I didn't know. I wanted us to work through our new dynamic. I wanted to succeed with my wife. And I wanted us to do this together. I drove home invigorated with the possibilities before us.
I just wish Doris had been home when I returned. No note, no message, no nothing. My disappointment was short-lived, as it quickly merged with my energized sense of purpose and then degenerated into a cold black rage in next to no time at all - why wasn't she here? Where was she? Didn't she care about our marriage? And worst of all - who the fuck was she with?
The urge to lash out, to hurt, to inflict pain became overwhelming as I waited her return. My previously suppressed anxiety fueled my rage as accusations stormed across my mind like a black line of squalls - ready to rain havoc and destruction upon her. Thoughts of patient conversation gave way to a desire to aggressively persecute - "When was the first time you spread you legs for dear Gerry?" "Did you get off on lying to me, or are you so professionally adept at it that its second nature?" "Was there ever a time that you actually LOVED me or was I always just a good back-up plan?" It went seriously downhill from there as my previous intentions to comfort and counsel yielded to a stance of combative confrontation. THE FUCKING BITCH WAS GOING TO PAY!
I was halfway through developing a plan to send everyone on our Christmas card list a notification of impending divorce along with explanatory photos when I heard the backdoor open and close followed quickly by the sound of shopping bags being set on the counter ... of course, it was Saturday. Doris had gone shopping. I realized by not hitting any golf balls I hadn't actually been gone very long. My black mood evaporated as quickly as it had formed and left me in a state of exhausted depression.
Doris found me sitting on our bed staring at the floor. I recounted my time that morning and described my rapidly changing moods. That feeling of freedom I experienced earlier, my current one of profound emptiness, and the searing rage that connected them. As I talked I realized that I was feeling strangely disconnected so I finished with, "You weren't home ... I thought the worst. I was angry enough to hurt you, to really truly hurt you. I wanted you in a state of unbearable pain. I don't trust myself right now. I think it's best if we spend some time apart and let the situation cool down."
Doris walked over and hugged me tight, "I'm so sorry, this is all my fault. Please don't go Frank. I couldn't stand it if you left, please don't."
I just sat there with her arms around me - I didn't - I couldn't return the hug. I was beginning to understand that I was nowhere near being in control of my emotions. I had internalized all of this for so long I was like a volcano ready to erupt. When she finally released me I just sat there - passive - on the bed. She knelt and laid her head in my lap, the soft curve of her neck seemingly offered in sacrifice.
"I can't begin to tell you how much I truly love you. You probably don't believe me, but I really do love you." Doris paused long enough for me to know she was changing the subject. I had an idea what was coming and I can't begin to describe the overwhelming feeling of sadness that began to grow inside me. I almost wanted to tell Doris not to say anything. I didn't, so she continued.