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The Key

(c) Linda Hutchison November 2019

The key dangles between us, gently swinging from side to side like a hypnotic talisman. We silently watch it swirl the tangled atmosphere. I look purposely into your eyes and lower the key to the table. How loud it sounds as it clinks onto the timber. How painful is the sound to our ears and strangled nerves. The ensuing quiet is equally deafening. So many words that could be said, but none of them helpful so they stay unused. I push the key towards you. You push it back. We both withdraw our hands and sit mutely staring into each other’s eyes. Sometimes pain is so intense that tears don’t come. Eventually one of us must speak and I know it will be me.

“I want what I thought we had/have. Have I been dreaming? Have I been deluding myself for all… these years?”

I’m waving my hands around gently, vaguely. You don’t reply. I try again.

“What do you want?”

“You’re my wife.”

Your tone tells me far more than the words do. I just don’t know quite what it means. I know you love me. I know our bond is unique and special. Does it matter that you share your heart with someone else? Does it matter that you’ve hidden it from me for all these years? Do you still want to pursue her? Would you be gone in a shot if you felt released from your ‘obligation’ to us? I feel immensely sad. I’ve believed in us for so long and now it feels as though I’ve been in it alone. How can I be so close to someone and yet so far away? But then I stop and the light goes on. You’re still here. You never left.

In these moments of illumination we make significant choices that change who we are for good.
I take the key back. I choose you. I choose you despite my heart breaking. I choose you because I love you despite the months I stupidly imagine you spent wishing you could be with her and resenting me. I choose you because I want to believe in love. I choose you because I choose to believe that you still have amazing potential as a husband and man in this world. I choose you because I want you. And now I cry. I sob. My heart bleeds all over the place. Quietly, loudly, somewhere in between. For a while. And then in choosing you I realise I am what I have always been – your champion. Ready to believe for the best in you when life goes pear-shaped. Ready to cheer you on when the world turns its back. Ready to be inspired by you and challenged for the better. Ready to comfort you and hold your hand and ride this world pillion with you. Ready to paint this world orange – red’s overrated.

Do I delude myself in believing that all of this is conceivable from your three little words? Quite possibly. I could live happily deluded or end up realistically shattered. But the truth is I’m not changed by your choices – I’m changed by my own. That’s the paradox of the human condition. Like a rocky outcrop, we get beaten and worn down by the wind and weather of time. Life is painful. I could become tough and rigid and walk away, but I choose to stay soft and go looking for the blossoms in the crevices. For me, that’s the key. I love you. I get up and make you a cup of tea.


The Key: Work
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