'I keep you by my side because that is what I said I would do.' It came out as a whisper, but in my mind I was screaming. It was almost as if I were drowning in shock, and terror, and disbelief. I couldn’t call for help and I couldn’t breathe. Every breath was getting shallower and shallower. It didn’t matter how hard I concentrated, it was a struggle. Then the room began to move, even though I was standing perfectly still.
He’d asked me one question, but the answer didn’t matter. Not really. It was all way beyond my control. Chaos was swirling about me, and I was terrified. Everything that I knew, that I understood, was slipping away from me.
Seven years ago—on a bright spring day much like this morning had started out—we’d stood in the tiny stone church in the village where I’d grown up and we’d made promises to each other, promises that were meant to span across lifetimes. I glanced over at the photograph of us on the windowsill. I gulped. Now he was telling me that he wanted to break those promises. Or he wanted me to break them. Or both of us. I thought that we had been about forever; obviously I was wrong.
The movement of the room was becoming worse, and combined with the sea-green walls, which we’d chosen because it was supposed to be calming, it only succeeded in making me feel sick. My heartbeat was magnified and I could feel it pulsating in my head. Every sound was muffled; except for the puppy, padding about on the wooden floor. That sounded as if a mammoth were tripping through our house. Our house. Our home. Our lives.
I was completely alone. This was the man who knew me better than anyone else. Who wouldn’t, after sharing life together for twelve years? This was the man who knew from the tone of a text message if I’d had a good day or a bad day, from a half-glance that I found something amusing, from an inhalation that I was afraid, from the angle of my shoulders that I was confused. What on earth was I supposed to do now? My life was built around him, and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to start over. I didn’t want to start over. I wanted him.
The wind caught the back door. I must have left it open when I went out into the garden to rescue the laundry from the sudden April shower. The slam made my head hurt, and he winced.
All of a sudden, the person who I thought I could depend on to assuage my fears, to salve my pain, was hurting me. And he knew that he was hurting me. I was standing in the debris of an emotional explosion that he had triggered. It felt as if he had betrayed me.
So there was no one. There was me. Standing opposite him.
My inability to form a sentence led me to simply stare at him. It were as if I were trying to understand his motives by reading his mind, or at least make him understand that I didn’t understand.
Then he sat down.
I was still standing, leaving me in the supposedly dominant position, but of course I was completely powerless. My hands didn’t know what to do with themselves. Tears were beginning to well on my lower lids. I looked upwards, trying to stop them from spilling down my cheeks, but the dam had been breached. I could feel their warmth trickling along my skin, whilst the rest of me was shivering cold.
That restless feeling in my hands, the stinging sensation as I attempted to fight back tears, they felt so familiar. I remembered them from a cold winter evening, about eight years ago. I had lain in front of the fire, propped up on my elbows, reading a book. It was Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Back then, though, it was a different emotion, it was excitement. That was the evening when he’d asked me to marry him. I suppose it were more a suggestion than a question. There were no grand gestures, no romantic overtures. It almost slipped out in passing. All our other friends were married. We’d known each other long enough. We were happy together. Why not?
It had taken him about eight years to figure out why not. And much like being asked to marry him, being asked why I’d stayed married to him just sort of slipped out, in passing.
He stood up and headed for the door. I watched my husband walk out of the door and out of my life. I suddenly realised that I didn’t feel anything anymore. I was numb, all over. I was so numb that my knees could no longer support my weight, and they crumpled beneath me. It was almost as if I’d gone through some sort of sensory overload, and everything stopped working. Just before the blackness caught me, I remembered seeing a streak of April-sunlight reflecting off of the puppy’s coat.
Yes, it's her half of his story, the one up there ↑.