10.20.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from Another Year
Image from Another Year

October 20, 2013: We were lucky.

3 thoughts on “10.20.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    Sometimes Edward hadn’t the words. There’d always been things he wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t fit in his mouth, and so he’d stayed silent. Years of silence. Eleanor knew, even though nothing had been said. That’s what can happen when you know someone better than you know yourself. Hadn’t she finished his stopped and stuck sentences for years? Hadn’t she always understood him even when he hadn’t really understood himself? And so she knew, even when he said nothing.

    ‘She’s a keeper,’ Edward’s father had told him at their first meeting, the meeting of Eleanor and his parents, years back. Edward hadn’t even given thought to what his father said, but Eleanor had. Although they’d only been together for a month by this time, she already knew how to manage Edward so that when he did propose, prompted by his friends and by his parents, she feigned surprise perfectly.

    If truth be told – and it never is – Eleanor had engineered the whole proposal. She’d picked the spot where Edward made his promise to make her happy; she’d chosen the ring and she’d marked the day on the calendar even before he’d got down on one knee. Edward thought maybe she’d spoken the words, too – in his sleep, perhaps – because when he said them they did not feel like something he would have said.

    They wedded within six months of meeting. Edward wasn’t sure he was ready, but Eleanor took his doubts and shaped them into something starry and hopeful. He didn’t know how she’d done that. His mates said he was a lucky bastard and they said they would if he wouldn’t. They said he could look for a hundred years and not ever find another Eleanor and so he felt lucky then, or he thought that he did.

    They had kids within two years and he got caught up in that and so for a while everything was good, better than it had been for his parents and better than it was for his friends – within three years of marrying, Brian and Melanie had split up and gone their separate ways; and Mark was always having affairs and pretending he wasn’t. And so Edward felt he must be lucky and Eleanor was at the centre of that luck.

    Even when the kids were grown and Edward started sleeping in the spare room, because of his snoring, even then he thought things were still good. But there was something empty and cold inside him, deep inside, and when he watched Eleanor dancing through all their last days together, he began to feel a dark brooding dissatisfaction. And Eleanor could feel it too – of course she could.

    Eleanor told herself it was just an age thing. Like Edward forgetting the word for bell-ringer, and not remembering where he put his glasses, and entering a room with something like purpose and then not knowing why he was there. But it was more than that; Edward knew and though Eleanor tried not to see it, she knew it, too, despite what she told herself.

    Then one morning, years after the kids had left and the house was quiet and still at their backs, and Eleanor was reading the Sunday papers and ringing the bits she wanted Edward to notice, and Edward was cooking breakfast as he did at the weekends, he suddenly found the words that he’d been looking for all this time. He told Eleanor straight out that he didn’t think he loved her. It came out in a rush and took them both by surprise.

    Eleanor got up and embraced him and by that she hoped to distract him from his own thoughts. And she kissed him and stroked his face and made small cooing sounds like a bird. But Edward had found the words now and so he had to speak them. He said he thought it right if he left. He didn’t know where he would go, but he thought he should go all the same. And it would be for the best, he said, best for her and for him. And he said he did not have any regrets, even when he did. And there were the kids to think of and the house and nothing would be easy, he knew that. Then Edward was quiet, for he had spoken, and it was enough. And he knew that the words were out there and a new truth would have to be lived with.

    And Eleanor did not let go of Edward, but she sighed, giving in to what he said. And maybe it was luck that they had lasted so long, she thought. Maybe lucky is what they had been.

    1. Oh Lindsay, this is a hard one to reply to, because I think it is the way of many a long, long marriage. You stick with it, not wanting to disappoint the kids, or add one more ‘failed’ to the steadily climbing rate of marriage vs. divorce statistics, but oh my, a life time? All those speed bumps become more noticeable, you tire, you wonder why, but then again, let it all dissolve?

  2. Lindsay

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Susan. I really appreciate that you do that. Yes, I knew this one was a bleak reality… I did see other good stuff in the picture when I first looked… but when it came to writing, this glummer assessment of what was there just came out.

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