I feel good in the night, when it’s dark and the house is quiet around me. I feel the gentle movements of the bedsheets as my wife breathes beside me, lost to sleep. It’s peaceful; restful. I exist in the moment.
In the night, somewhere between waking and sleep, we snuggle together as we always have. Arms and legs wrapped around each other, each seeking the physical comfort, the intimate security, of love.
When I wake in the morning, my head is empty. I lie in the warmth with my eyes closed, revelling in the stillness. I wish it could last forever.
Footsteps across the landing, little fingers scrabbling at the door, and then our children jump up and down on the bed. We smile; we laugh; enjoying the simple pleasures of each other. It’s the closest we get to heaven.
And then I become fully awake. And the memory of her betrayal floods in like ice.
I go downstairs to make breakfast, stare out at the sunshine, the clear skies of a glorious April day, and my insides twist. If there is beauty in this morning, if there is solace in this vista, my heart won’t let me feel it.
The memory is poisoning me. But I can’t stop poking the wound.
The breakfast tastes as bitter as my coffee.
So I fake a smile. Fake small talk. Fake love, fake joy, fake coping, fake life itself. And as the hours pass, I feel my face contort from the effort of holding back the grimace. Stomach knotted; gut sickened; chest tight and heart bursting.
I keep it hidden. I wait for night, when we can lie beside one another without the pressure to keep up this charade; when my thoughts return to silence, and there is no yesterday, and no tomorrow – only love and the gentle movements of the bedsheets.