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Creative Nonfiction

“Here we go,” I whispered under my breath as I stepped into the elevator like there was a big fat bear trap inside it. I pressed my floor’s button and fumbled with my headphones so that my ears would be available.

Ding, 5th floor, the elevator chirped in a female computer voice, and I stepped out in small short steps, like that would make the time between there and the door to the apartment that much slower. I was in scrubs, tired from a typical twelve-hour shift, and not in the mood to play pretend tonight. Pretending is even more exhausting.

I stood in front of my door for a moment, listening for any movement inside. Sounded like he was watching Youtube again. I sighed tiredly and opened the door. I was instantly greeted by raccoon sized fluffs, Gizmo and Gadget meowing like they’ve been starved for hours when I knew all too well that they were just fed recently and just wanted to smuggle more food out of me.

“Oh stop that meowing! I just fed you,” his voice was heard across the hall from our living room space.

“I’m home,” I chimed, too tired to fake smile while I slipped off my work backpack and then my coat. I liked everything put away before relaxing: shoes in the cubby, coat hung in the closet, and backpack emptied of dishes and personal contents. He came walking down the hall, beaming his smile, all while dressed in a robe, and hugged me.

“Hello, welcome home!” and I hugged back. He pecked my head with his lips, my cheek and then my lips. I was only comfortable enough for a peck there too, and I asked him how his day was.

He twirled around and disappeared down the hall to our kitchen, “It was okaaay. Just a bit boring, working on the same tank and fixing errors from swing shift,” he began, and then suddenly he was going on and on about the parts of his work I didn’t really understand. He talked about something with his coworkers and something about the parts of wielding I think. I wasn’t really listening. I was emptying my bag, nodding away and trying not to frown too much. Frown anymore, I think my face will turn to a bulldog where my cheeks will start to sag around my lips.

There’s a hard truth I’ve been known for a long time. A secret I guess because I’ve never really told anyone, not even him. And it just sits there, in my belly, forever it seems. It feels heavy, like a small stone. I just picture it like my belly is a small pit with shallow water, dark and moist and there’s a clean dark round stone, sitting in the middle of it all, half submerged as ripples of the dark water expand outward in a steady slow pace.

When I stepped into the kitchen, I found that he had a skillet of hot food made, our favorite quick meals: sweet potato fries with black beans and cheese.

“I kept it warm in the oven for you,” he smiled and settled the skilled on top of the stove. Steam was rising into the vents as we each scooped our meal onto small plates and carried them to the small table. Our small table, made just for us with only two tall chairs, like bar stools, and a table where we ate many meals together and played many board games and even just talked and drank and laughed and held hands.

We had a lovely view to look out from our urban apartment, the city’s night life glittering beyond as I gazed at the other apartments and wondered what kinds of lives resided into them. We used to eat with much chatter, laugh and even quickly head straight to bed after just barely eating if we were in the mood.

What had happened?

I sighed in between bites, us eating in silence. He looked at me as though injured, puppy dog eyes but it was a quick look, one he didn’t like to show all too often. His eyes shifted back to neutral and he chewed his food.

“So? How was your day?” he asked me.

“It was fine. Busy, nothing unusual though,” I said in practically a monotone voice.

Is it just me? Are we like this because I’m like this? This monotone machine, just working and sleeping? And every free time I get, I just want time to myself, away from him.

He lifted his lips to a quick smile, and then went back to eating.

“Have three or four patients this time?” he was trying to get me to really talk. I appreciated the effort and swallowed my food.

“Four this time. But it wasn’t a bad day. It’s slower on weekends,” I said, trying to sound a little brighter and then scoffed myself for it. I did say not to pretend at all. But even the slightest amount of enthusiasm put his eyes into sparkles, a hope he carried dearly with a tight clenched fist. The stone in my belly rolled a little and I finished my plate of food. I could tell he was waiting for me to decide what to do next. What may have fallen into his thoughts were probably, does she want to hang out with me, watch movies in bed or play a board game? Or will she hide in her bath tub or play a video game?

I sighed again and walked my plate to the sink to rinse it and then put it away in the dishwasher.

“I’m going to take a bath,” I announced.

“Okay,” his calm and happy voice replied, and he pecked me on the cheek again just before I slipped away towards the bathroom.

 

I let the water run. Its loud, gushing, flowing sound was somehow soothing to me, a loud noise that was needed into this all too quiet apartment. I stripped myself of my scrubs and tossed them in the waste basket. A woman stared at me in the mirror. She appeared tired. Melancholic. She had just turned thirty not too long ago and she sighed at me as I watched her roll her long hair up into a bun. Her hazel eyes seemed distant, like she wasn’t really there. She didn’t know where she was.

I had a secret, and I had no one to really tell.

I had no friends, I’ve stopped talking to my old best friend when I got tired of her drama. For a long time, it was just me and him. Him and me. My lover, my best friend. My husband.

He was all I needed. Or so I thought. I tell him everything, so there weren’t any secrets between us. It was the same for him, I think. He had no friends. Not even a best friend when I met him five years ago. Since then, it was just always….us. The couple so caught up into their own little world, locking up all their doors to the outside, afraid that it was all too dangerous and scary out there. They sought comfort in only each other, and that was enough.

I knelt next to the bath and touched the water for its temperature, and then I played my bath tub caddy across the tub as my own little personal tray. One glass of red blend wine, my phone, bar of soap, wash cloth, and an Ipad all laid out before me: I was set.

I slipped into the water, its high heat hugging me tight till I got used to it and I leaned my head back. I was fully submerged from the neck down. Candles were in place, the lights were dim, and it was quiet except for the echoing of his computer playing youtube down the hall.

Was…

It was enough.

Lately I’ve been itching for more. More adventure. More life. Was it natural that soon after marriage, the dreams of your own would just suddenly come on out and smack you in the face?

I had dreams of teaching English in Japan. Dreams of living in Hawaii or along the coast of a beach town. Dreams of volunteering at an aquarium and going back to school for anesthesiology school. Of course, keeping no secrets, I’ve told my husband all of this.

“We can make it work,” he answered one time when I confronted him about it, troubled and worried I was, while he just appeared calm.

“After I’m done with school, you can go back,” so simple he thought.

“But what about kids? You want kids don’t you?” I gasped, arms out wide like I was measuring the amount of kids he wanted in them.

He sat in his usual computer chair with his usual calming posture, one leg over the other and smiled up at me, “We can have kids after you’re done then.”

“But that could be when I’m forty,” I grumbled.

“Well….” He didn’t know what to say to that. I think the dilemma was just too complicated to the point of us agreeing to wait till we turn thirty-five to have that conversation again.

When I mentioned about Japan, he replied, “Well, I can always work on my Masters and our house, and you can go for a year to Japan.”

Was I being selfish here? He never once said I was. Never once turned down my dreams. But when do dreams just stay as they are, dreams?

And when do you just stop, in a marriage?

Back then, with all my partners before him, they all did things that led to break ups.

Easy. You leave when something terrible happens from your partner, right? Like cheating or lying something so big, you couldn’t stand it and had to get out.

But…

I sighed and looked up at the ceiling, the heat of the bath water already just warm, but my face was hot and the steam made it feel sticky as wisps of my hair stuck to my forehead and cheeks.

But what if there is no lying or cheating? What if it is what it’s supposed to be, just stable? That just meant there was no easy exit. Why was I even thinking about exits?

The faucet dripped a small drop of water, and I came to realize that there was finally one secret I was keeping from my husband. One that I had no one to tell. After such a big wedding just last year, who could I tell this secret to? My parents turn a blind eye. I have no friends. It was too personal for coworkers, and all the younger cousins and sister in laws all looked up to me with this huge success of a great job, a great marriage and a great apartment.

Why didn’t I feel great?

 I tried to search for answers along the ceiling but of course, nothing was there. Just a dark and quiet ceiling with the lamp off so that I could watch the remnants of candle light along the bathtub’s rim.

I tell all my secrets to my husband, my best friend, my love and my other half. But what do I do when I suddenly find myself with a painful secret about him?

I sank my face into my wet hands and pressed my thumbs into my steamy eyes. I didn’t want to cry, not now.

I have a terrible secret. The stone turned in my belly again, the weight of it feeling heavier until I felt nauseous. I climbed out of the tub quietly, and wrapped a towel around myself. I approached the candles, starring into the tiny flames that danced gently in the still air.

He did nothing wrong. He wasn’t abusive, never cheated, nor did something that shook our relationship. Wasn’t I supposed to find a good reason than just the simple fact that my feelings have changed?

I blew out the candles, one by one.

Here’s my terrible secret. One I’ve only found out recently and I can’t tell even my husband yet. So I’m going to tell you first, because it’s better than keeping it inside.

I was no longer in love with my husband.

I blew out the last candle, and the darkness came.

 

 

 

 

 

 w=2056

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2020 01:27

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