The author sits at the table, engaged in the intumable efforts of creation. This sort of endeavor is twofold: the most important element is the purging of various deep truths, truths that have long been plaguing the soul; the second part is the ability to make up words like "intumable" and still have a chance of being published in a reputable magazine, or trade journal. No. No. We are being serious. We are studying the heart.

The author is presently engaged in cribbing a technique from a better author, using the name of a classical work as the title for a story that really has very little to do with the original piece. You should probably stop reading this now and go read something by him. If you still come back, the author will know that it is truly love. Wait. Please.

"The Secret Marriage" is by Cimarosa*. It is a very good opera, the author presumes. In fact, he has never heard it, or any other opera. But if you promise to sit still, he will try to find a recording or something while he writes this story, at his computer.

All right, then.

"So now we are married," said Sophie, "and yet it still remains a secret."

Phillip sat on the bed. Probably he had gone about this correctly, but at this point it was difficult to tell. This sort of thing happens every day, he repeated to himself. Every every day.

Phillip walked across the room to Sophie. "Where shall we live?"

Yes, it was a secret, yes it had all been very fun at first, adventuring and sneaking off from their respective parents' houses, wandering through the woods, et cetera. But now they were twenty-three and twenty-four (Sophie was four months older than Phillip) and were largely clinging to tradition rather than finding new reasons to keep it a secret. Also, Phillip had been seeing Maria, three days a week.

Sophie didn't answer him. But then: "Phillip, why are you seeing Maria?"

Phillip was ready. He had thought hard about how he would respond when this question came and the words flowed naturally across his lips. "Well, Sophie, our marriage is a secret. People would start to talk if I was not occasionally seen in public with another woman, three days a week." Yes, Phillip thought. This was good. He had acted correctly, his every avenue brimming with righteousness.

We see Sophie wandering the streets, broken-hearted. Her secret marriage was more demanding than she might ever have believed. She sought out the services of gypsies. There were three gypsies, and they spoke in perfect unison. Sophie felt that it really did create a more dramatic scene; she had actually turned down several smaller or less synchronized troupes in an effort to make herself appreciate the particular gravity of this situation.

"How can I win Phillip back," she said to the gypsies, and then carefully added, "the man I am not necessarily married to?"

"That much is simple,” said the gypsies. They were haggard and clutched canes and walkers and the pig's feet around their necks, their shirts festooned with bumper stickers. "We can prepare a potion that will make you the sole object of Phillip's desire. But there will be a price."

There is always a price, thought Sophie. But I am prepared to pay it.

Sophie walked into the electronics store where Phillip worked. The author pauses. Do we need to include the usual dreck about the potion? A terrible price, mistaken love, and the inevitable recovery. The depth of the composition lies in the building of character, the minor chords, the suspended chords. The minor sevenths. The expression on the face of the violinist is perhaps worth more than the overture. For all we know, she is thinking about buying groceries. She is planning her father's death, creating herself a lover.

Sophie sat in the ruins of what she had done. "What is left to us," cried Phillip, "my electronics company in ruins and the left side of Maria's body paralyzed?"

That is not what will change things, thought Sophie. There will be other electronics companies, other Marias, but any day one of us may die, may change our mind. Just stand up, Phillip. Stand up and walk with me, now, my love. Now now now now now now now.




Also, apparently, this is the title of a Sting song. I am sorry. Please accept these meager offerings as a down payment on something greater.

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