“Honey, we have to cover this up, it looks so ugly over there!” I look up to see my wife pointing at a space in the wall which is disfigured and uneven due to water seepage. “Can we put this painting there? That way it doesn’t show? Right?”
“Yes, that would be okay”
With glee, she says “I am the master of deception. Ha! No one will ever guess! I’m so glad I found this big thing lying around in the attic. It’s not that pretty, but then it’ll do. Better than that disaster isn’t it?”
A little nodding and an occasional “yes”, “right”, “hmm” from my side, was all that was needed.
I had to eventually move from my chair and help her with putting the painting in the wall.
Later that night, I sat reading and my eyes went there. To the wall. I did not know why but looking at that painting made me furious. Filled me with a rage so intense that I wanted to not only throw that blasted painting, but also destroy the wall. My hands were clenched into fists so hard there were crescents on my palm from my nails. I sat there transfixed. Looking at it and breathing hard. What was it about this?
Master of deception, she’d called herself. A short, bitter laugh escapes me. Deception, I thought was an art that I had perfected with practice. Deception was my entire existence. Deception was living a lie, growing a moustache to look ‘manly’ as my wife calls it, flirting with the receptionist, procreating with my wife to have children, faking a headache every other night right before going to bed, or saying that there was so much of work. Deception was talking to the love of my life and pretending to everyone that I’m talking to my best friend.
I lie back in the chair and let out a breath. Asked myself the millionth time why I was doing this? Was there another way? Maybe there was and I was just too…constricted to see it. I knew why I was doing this. My wife. She is wonderful. We lead a comfortable life. If anything goes amiss, it upsets her. This would destroy her. My two adorable daughters. I often marvel that I had any part in creating them. They’re so lovely and pure and clean. My job- I’m respected, feared, even. I’m good at what I do. I have everything to lose.
I’m living in a free world, or so they say. My soul is in Alcatraz maybe. Or in Azkaban, about which my daughter was telling me about. That seems fitting. Can I free myself? I’m so tired of this fight. Maybe I should just die. The secret will die with me. I’d have died an honorable man. I feel tears on my cheeks. I allow myself the luxury of crying for a lost cause for a few moments. Dying is no solution at all, though. I cannot leave my family. Can I get out of this prison?
I decide to tell my wife tomorrow. Tell her that some things are so powerful that they cannot be hidden. That I yearn for a love that she can never give me. That it isn’t her fault. That I’m sorry. That I’m more sorry than I can ever say. That I do love her. She’s been my best friend all these years. My lover, the mother of my children. I want to tell her that I don’t want this. If there was a way I could be different I’d be different in a heartbeat. I have tried. When I was getting married to her, I thought I could be okay. That I’d be normal, like everyone else. I prayed. I fasted. I was in penance for so long.
I’ve been searching for redemption for years. I probably will never find it. And yet, I remember some moments when I felt like I was not sinning. The love I have for him. It is unadulterated, a longing that I cannot measure. How can something that feels so right, be so wrong. I don’t understand. If anyone in my family gets a whiff of this, they will not only condemn me, they will kill me.
“Come to bed, honey!” My wife hollers from the bedroom.
“Yes, I will. In just a little while! Some work I should finish, okay?”