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Fiction





I pretend that I'm carefree

But what am I

I pretend that I'm carefree

But I'm living a lie

Two faces have I

One to laugh and one to cry

Two faces have I

One to laugh and one to cry


  ~ Lou Christie



1.


We haven't spoken for over five decades. You hurt me terribly because you did what you did and just walked away. Just walked away.


I don't want to tell anybody what you did, so we'll just keep that between us. (Don't worry. I can keep a secret, even if it kills me.) I don't want you to apologize, either, so please don't bother. Please don't. Moot, at this point. Apologies are never that long in coming, if you mean them. I know you wouldn't. Mean it.


I am here and you are there. You have not moved on because you're still living in the exact same place. I have, however. Yet you betrayed me and I haven't forgotten that yet so maybe I'm not moved on, haven't moved on after all.


Still, you are still where we met. Don't you remember? I for one have been running away from that place every day of my life.


I don't actually care where you are. I just want to tell you what I think of you. I couldn't do that before, when we were too close for comfort. Have you ever thought what I felt then might have traveled a long road?


No, you probably never did that, but I'm writing to you anyway to let you know what a horrible person you are. Of course your friends and family don't think that, but do you think they even remember that we used to know one another and that you destroyed my life?


Not likely. They probably saw it - see it - as the other way around. There's a term for that way of thinking, but I'm not going to bother.


You never heard my sadness, never looked me straight in the eye. You were long gone even before you left. Nevertheless, if you didn't hear me so long ago, you will hear my anger now. Your abandoning me when I was at the lowest point in my life may have been a good thing in the long run, but I can't see how.


I wish I didn't have you in my head still, even though it's been eons since you were in my heart.


You know, right now I'm sorry I even tried to reach out to you, because you won't listen. I'm just going to put you in the garbage a long with this note (which maybe I never should have written) and a curse of the sort I do very well with creatures like you:


May you suffer long and hard, forever and deeply, and maybe while you're at it you should consider rotting in hell. (That is an image that makes me smile.)


Before I sign off to send this letter somewhere, I have a question: Do you enjoy being hated so much, you wimp? Knowing you have been so dishonest, so cold-hearted, so evil, despite your ability to pray?


Signed, Your Dearly Beloved, 


Betrayed



2.


They're all lies you're telling, things that never happened. I know you probably won't believe me, but please just remember that I'm a good person and a lot of people love me. They people around me all know I would never do anything cruel to anybody. Never. It's just not in my nature. I suppose the years have warped reality for you. You never did have much ability to think clearly, to see the handwriting on the wall.


To accept the blame. Because this isn't about me, it's about you and you needed to go away. Which you knew how to do. Go away and leave me in peace with my honor and my great family.


You see, I'm just a normal person, and I have feelings. My feelings, like everybody else's, are subject to change. We're allowed to change our minds and walk out the door. Can't you understand that? Hell, it's been years and we wouldn't even recognize each other now. Wouldn't want to. 


Anyway, I'm just a good person - everybody says so - and I just want to live in peace. I've done my best to do that. Now you're hassling me about this and that and all the other things that happened. That is just wrong. Unfair, even. I don't deserve your abuse now.


Let's just agree that the past is the past.


Some people are simply unable to move on, you know. I of course was able to do that, and did so right away. I had no reason not to, despite what your opinion might be. Beside, I had no reason not to get on with my life. You should respect the fact that it was my life and I had changed. I could not be held back by anybody, least of all you. Nobody owns me, as the song goes. I did it all my way, and you weren't in the picture.


You don't seem to have understood that, sweetie.


Now that I think about it, I am actually quite upset that I'm being bothered by you again after all these years. Don't you feel sorry for me? After all, you know I am not a bad person. I only did what I needed to do, for everybody's sake. I'll spell it out for you:


I walked away.


I had no reason not to do that.


I did it because I could, which was really cool.


I never said I was sorry and certainly did not ask for forgiveness because I did not ask to be forgiven, nor did I do anything wrong.


My point here is that some people expect too much of other people, and most of the time they don't have the right to do that. Those are the clingy people, the jealous ones, the ones who are weak or maybe even something worse. You may be in that category and ought to do some self-criticism as they say. Was everything that happened so long ago my fault or was it yours?


Yes, you definitely could be to blame.


Anyway, as already stated, I know I'm a good person and I do hope you can see my side of the story, because I know I'm right. You are just hypercritical and too emotional. I really don't think I deserve to rot in hell. That is rather cruel and over the top. 


I did nothing wrong. I didn't lose my temper and I didn't over-react. I only did what I had to do at the time. My survival instinct was all-important and you were not essential to my survival.


It's all water under the bridge, as they say. Let bygones be bygones, eh? 


Let's just forget.


I have forgotten, at least. Time for you to do the same. There is nothing here for you.



Signed, One You Accuse Unjustly, as your


Betrayer



3.


As we look back over the life of X (we are maintaining anonymity for the moment, until I find a publisher for this manuscript), we can see a highly successful person, a motivated, focused, hard-working undividual who is inexplicably in agony after years and years of recalling the past. 


Something is very, very wrong about this picture.


To me at least it looks like X lived a great life and went on from the early years to be very happy. There are no indications to the contrary, although I could be wrong. All ethical historians are concerned with the truth and want to display it for their readers. History is supposed to deal with facts, with data, and tries to avoid personal opinion when presenting the facts.


However, after finding the two documents that fell into my lap, I'm beginning to wonder. There is a lot of wiggle room between one side and the other. Let's see what I can do with the information...


First of all, the betrayal, its nature, its seriousness, its damage, none of this is mentioned anywhere. Why does neither the Betrayed nor the Betrayer face the real issue? Was it that bad? If so, then Betrayed might be entirely justified in not letting things go, in circling back to see if justice can be had. 


Or is it exaggerated? Betrayer might be completely accurate in saying the situation was blown out of proportion. There are certainly a lot of childish people out there who are out of touch with reality and normal human behavior. My least favorite sort of person.


We also need to ask why this communication, such as it is, has only surfaced now, by chance. It has surfaced through the letter I found in a journal of X's. (I was not given permission to access the journal, but let's just say it fell into my lap and I took advantage.)


The letter transcribed at the start, which might also have been a rough draft and thus would have left out a lot of details, was supposed to have been tossed into a wastebasket, but for some reason was not. At this point I'm wondering why the hesitation on the part of the author, whom we know as the Betrayed. 


I cannot understand the hesitation, the reason for the need to hang on to the feeling that is linked to an event or events from so long ago. Why does anybody hang onto the feeling of having been betrayed? Was what happened such a terrible thing? After all, everybody is still alive and well, it seems.


So long ago. Who knows? Who cares. Some might say. Time heals all, right?


Wait, maybe time digs into scars, deepens them, darkens them. I'm a historian, so I am supposed to care about the facts. Unfortunately, I cannot decipher the feelings, and history as a discipline has banned us from digging into hearts and things that have no data. A quandry.


I'm a historian. I care. Maybe I shouldn't. However, right or wrong, X seems to have suffered, been turned inside out, and that suffering as well as the turning continued right up until the end. There was no release, no forgiveness, for X. In a way, this seems unfair. It also seems real. 


Who am I to judge? All I have from X's perspective is the letter that was written and then housed where the intended recipient would never see it. Because the intended recipient did not care. Yet X suffered, and that went on up until the end. Thus, we can only conclude that the pain was real, even if not justified.


Well, now the other document has appeared, apparently slipped inside a book. This ought to be impossible, since the two persons involved have neither spoken nor seen each other in at least fifty years. One feels safe, the other feels haunted. Was safety justified?


At the same time, the second document, slipped inside a book belonging to X, appears to have been written to someone else, as if Betrayed and Betrayer had a common acquaintance. I find this hard to believe. Betrayer would not have seen the letter that X supposedly intended to place in the trash, right? So how could the part about rotting in hell have been in both the unsent letter and the document (maybe a letter)? 


The historian in me wants answers.


How could Betrayer have known about the unsent letter? (There is no indication that the letter was transferred to email correspondence because both parties' email communications have been studied and documented and they have not contacted each other ever.)


Did X decide to call or visit Betrayer? Unlikely. Did the letter, with all its vagueness, turn out to be insufficient to express what X was thinking or feeling so it was simply archived? Did X go around blabbing about the old pain, the resentment, so much that it finally got back to Betrayer, who felt compelled to write something in self-defense?


Or did Betrayer's conscience finally kick in? If that was the case, why deny the past? Maybe Betrayer's family had begun to ask questions because they heard some story about them. Maybe Betrayer wanted to set things straight, once and for all.


Set things straight or erase them. Maybe Betrayer is just as horrible a person as X says in the letter. (X = Betrayed, as must be clear by now.)


I'm a historian, but at this point I really don't know the story of either Betrayed or Betrayer. One would be too painful and the other would be too attached to a masquerade.


History wants facts, not hearts.


Yours Truly,


Editor/Researcher


August 06, 2021 00:00

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2 comments

21:32 Aug 13, 2021

The more "Betrayed" and "Betrayer" wrote, the more I wanted to know what happened so long ago. I appreciated that you utilized a historian as the final point of view. We just will never fully understand the past. You distinguished and portrayed the anger of "Betrayed" and the denial of "Betrayer" really well, and I loved the line "Wait, maybe time digs into scars, deepens them, darkens them." Nice story!

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Kathleen March
11:10 Aug 14, 2021

Thank you so much. I’ve always thought historians are just as subjective as the rest of us.

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