a Lie and a Wry Smile

He smiled a wry smile at her, his eyes were focused on hers, he seemed sincere and she bought it. He told her he appreciated her being honest but he didn’t quite believe her, not that there was any real good reason to doubt her, in fact things were pretty squared away between them and neither have ever lied to the other, honesty had always been the hook they’d hung their keys on. But sometimes Brett wasn’t quite certain and he didn’t know why, there just seemed to be this quaint, shallow voice near the back of his mind that whispered things to him that would suggest doubt.

He is just being careful, cautious he thought to himself, too many times in his past relationships he has been disappointed, even lied to and taken advantage of. He never wanted that to happen to him again, it doesn’t feel good; it’s gross and makes him feel sick as though he’d eaten something awful and it sat heavy in his stomach and festered there. He was just protecting himself he’d claim.

So she would say that she just needed a few minutes after work to decompress before coming home to him, she would tell him while she had her hands on his shoulders and looking straight into his eyes, that she just didn’t want to come home in a foul mood and have that affect their relationship. She would kiss his lips and pull back while she confessed her love and respect for him. And he would look deep within her bright blue eyes and smile a wry smile. And he say something like “thanks hon, I love our honesty”.

He would feel good about them then and they would prepare dinner together, talk about their day and laugh. They would talk about his mother and her job and about the coming weekend and how maybe going to watch the fireworks from the Stone Arch Bridge might be fun. And after dinner he would collect their plates, and as he did so she would grab her phone and appear to text somebody. She would sit back in her chair and hold her phone close and slightly tilted away. Then she would put it in her pocket while they washed the dishes. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to know or that he didn’t want to seem petty by coming off over curious about whom she’d been texting. But he wouldn’t ask and she wouldn’t share.

Suddenly that little intonation began to chatter near the back of his head like the far way voices on the old party lines over the phones we had as kids. He’d ask himself why she didn’t leave her phone on the table. Why she quickly shut it down whenever he came near. He began to preoccupy himself with ideas and theories. He couldn’t share them with her and certainly couldn’t ask her because he’d come off paranoid and that’s not good. He began watching her, and when she did leave her phone out he wanted to look at the text log. What if she’d met someone at work, what if she had a secret crush on someone else, what if she was seeing someone. The thoughts grew more intense and the voice in his conscience grew louder.

He nurtured that voice and the suspicion like it was a new kitten, he cultivated its suggestions, its fears. He fed it with obviously plausible scenarios and at the end of the day when they both lied in bed in the dark, he wondered if she knew he was on to her. He kept that kitten from her and fed it when she wasn’t looking. The trouble with kittens is, they grow bigger and become less controlled, they start to get sneaky and look around for things to get into they ought not. And when they get cornered, when you try and reel them in they have a tendency to bite, and most times they hurt those around us and then she wants to know where this cat came from and Brett isn’t completely sure but he’s not giving it up.

She tries to take it from him, she tries to relieve him of the burden, of its tenacious grip but he snaps back because its his, he raised it, and it’s always been there for him when he was scared or felt alone, it never asked for anything, just his trust and support.

But she doesn’t like cats and decides that she can’t live with it, and Brett suddenly believes her but its too late and now as he holds his cat, as he strokes Suspicion she walks out the door, when she turns and tells him that she loves him and honestly only hopes the best for him, she smiles a wry smile and says she always trusted him


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