We sat side by side, on the carpeted floor, staring into the fireplace and each lost in thought. I could never tell what he was thinking and I knew never to ask. My thoughts drifted over the day at work, replaying each scene over and over until I created an alternate scene in which I won the argument, I won the bet, or I won the right to walk out. Someday, I thought, I will get the chance to walk out. And it will be on my terms, too. Yeah, someday.
The flames were slowly diminishing and the crackling gave way to small snaps and an occasional click. The light in the room was growing dimmer, too. I looked over at him. His eyes were shut and his chin rested on his chest. He snored softly. It made me angry.
How can he sleep? I feed him. I clothe him. I pay all his bills – even the ones I shouldn’t have to. Yet, he does nothing in return. I looked closer. Under the wrinkles, the loose skin, and the graying hair, I saw who he was twenty years ago when we married. I had been in love with him but didn’t truly love him then. That built up over the years. The times of plenty and the endlessness of near poverty. The moments of infidelity. The hours with my cat, the days with our dogs, the years with our daughter. That was what love truly is.
I rocked myself onto my aching knees and wrestled another log onto the fire. The flames went dangerously low but within a minute had started to curl around the new log. The crackling came back after another minute and the light in the room lifted.
What the hell is wrong with me? I asked. I feel so bitchy. I feel lost and lonely at the same time. What is it that I want out of life? Not this! came my first response. Surely there are better times coming again. There has to be or what is the point of it all? I’ll be dead soon if I don’t have at least a glimmer of hope on my horizon.
Okay then, I said to myself, what are you going to do about it? No one is going to help; you must see that by now. You are totally alone and on your own to get what you want out of life.
I stood and went over to my suitcase on the bed and pulled my journal out of the side pocket. I sat down closer to the fireplace, propped the journal on my knee, and began to write. I wrote. I wrote until my carpal tunnel caused my hand to spasm and the pen to fall from my fingers. Cradling my hand to my chest, I looked back at the pages I wrote. The words large, scrawled out and feathered with leaky ink went on for six pages. I read them for the first time.
There was my truth.