“What do you tell people about me?” she asked. And more importantly, “Why does she have to hate me?”
Silence. As there should be.
As there must be.
We all rewrite our difficult pasts, rearranging until we find a version that allows us to live with ourselves.
Can she even trust her own memories now? She is not entirely sure.
More than twenty years of him.
She wonders if traces of her still live in his house.
The antique medical books. The leaflet from an illuminated book of prayers. The collection of poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The gilt copy of Tristram and Isolde. The earring she lost that he said he would keep safe for her but never gave back. The chest of drawers he bought because he thought she would like them.
That kitchen floor.
Is his dog still alive?
Has his long appendectomy scar healed the rest of the way? Her fingers traced that line while it was still angry and red.
Are the dishes she cooked with, the glasses she drank from still in the cabinets there? Is the dining room table still set with the same plates, still covered with its layer of dust? She used to write messages to him in that dust.
Is the coconut rum still in the fridge with the giant bottle of lemon juice?
Is the bed the same one she slept in? The one they made their dreams in?
The dreams that were flushed away.
Does he ever think of her now?
Every day she wonders, some days more than others. She wishes she could be more than just a ghost. But at the end of the day there is a child in need of a father, a father in need of a child, and she cannot write herself out of that story line.
So she lets the loneliness lift from her shoulders again, knowing that after twenty years of her there will always be some part of her with him. How he feels about those bits and pieces, what they mean for him is another story.
Now, she realizes, it is no longer about trying to erase the past. She is writing the future.
What is truth and what is fiction?
Does it matter?
Only the heart knows.