“I have secrets that I keep locked away in a place that you will never find. It’s for me only. Don’t you understand?”
She spoke so easily, as if it didn’t really matter, but in some profound way unbeknownst to me, it did. I don’t even know how the conversation shifted to the topic of secrecy, but she always had a way of making me feel like I was the one who should be locked away in the loony bin. Not her. She just always seems so lucid and understanding.
“You will never know the whereabouts of my hidden sock puppets. I can’t just tell you where they are! They will be angry and bite you. Its for your own protection pear, pear, Perry!”
Then she says something crazy again, like that, eyes all wide and wild as her head juts at an angle and I snap back into reality.
I take in the dank and noisy room that I’ve gotten used to tuning out since my years of coming here. I clear away the tunnel vision that happens every time I see her waiting eyes and look around at the other tattered faces in the room. I see too many pairs of sunken eyes lost in their own bubbles before my attention is once again falling on the woman in front of me. Her eyes are almost pleading now and I respond to her unavoidable insanity.
“I know Kendra, I know. Hidden puppets stay hidden.” I soothe, as I pat her head and pull her towards me. I hold her tight and smooth her tangled hair with a kiss. It tickles my nose and smells like her favorite strawberry chap-stick. The scent taunts me, it consumes me, it reminds me of the good then slaps me with the truth of our situation in an instant. One of her nurses told me she’s been using it on her hair in attempts to keep her “gorgeous locks from getting chapped.” I let a single tear slide down my cheek and inhale a final deep breath as I prepare to leave… this time for good.
“This was a good visit, my sweet, I’ll see you next week? When I’m better and ready to leave?” Her face has that light to it, as it does every time she talks about leaving this place and going home.
It’s like she’s expecting me to tell her that today is that day, and when I just agree with her instead her eyes dull almost imperceptibly. I see it, though. I always do.
It takes everything in me to choke back the sobs that are threatening to escape.
“Of course, when you’re all better, I’ll be back.” I wish I was brave enough to tell her the truth, but at least my fear isn’t strong enough to feed her lies.
With that, I give her one last hug and a lingering kiss on her pouty mouth. I walk out of the door and suppress my desire to look back into her longing brown eyes. The divorce was finalized this morning, after 5 years of trying everything to get her back to being the woman I fell in love with.
My heart died with that last confirmation that my wife was gone forever.
Shirley sashayed up to a man shrouded in shredded sheets and mentioned not a word as she latched her shivering hands on each of his massive shoulders and shook him into shameful recognition.
we’re halfway thru april, u know what tht means?