Secrets Held In is a short story written by Sir Semega and posted at Storiesonline. It was presented with an invitation to write your own ending. Well, I did and this is mine.
Trust Left Out by juanwildone
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. I had known about my wife's workplace affair of many years previous, 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 was that I compromised my health due to the internal conflict of denial and desire for my wife. Her recent 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 my impromptu stay 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 wrong; 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 new.
Charlie treated me to breakfast at a local diner. I had 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 and 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 again then stopped. Then he 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 its 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 by products of this strange feeling of release 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.
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 excalmations. The few that were recognizable were, "Oh Frank. Where have you been?" and numerous 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 point of reference. Her frustration increased until she finally just quite 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 you something?"
"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 a twenty teeth showing, look how white my teeth are smile - 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. Her long hours, missed calls, and the drop off in our sex life were all dismissed as childish on my part. Then she had 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 services she was providing him. She literally slapped me for my curiousity and angrily threaten to leave me. Our crisis peaked when she demanded to know just when she had ever done anything to make me not trust her. My usual restraint 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 exiting 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 - really?" 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 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-closed 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 speculated that Doris was falling back on routine and taking her comfort in it. I remembered I'd showered earlier at my brothers 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 reclaim. 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 almost too good. 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 put a little irony on '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 called 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 get any worse. I smiled and nodded.
"Are you sure you don't need more time?" I left out the sarcasm this time. "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 came up empty - 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.
"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 and your disappointment. I hope and pray that we can find a way to put this behind us and..."
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 - for my part reviewing the investigators report was not going to help her cause one 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.
"Gerry must had been a hell of a fuck, I mean really, you swallowed his cum long before you got around to swallowing mine. I could list what 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 growing 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 him..." 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 confess, she felt no compulsion to explain; the bottom line was that no answers were 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."
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."