No one except your husband knows of the cautiousness at the heart of your life. Your adulthood has been a progressive retreat from curiosity and wonder, an endless series of delays and procrastinations. You wanted to be so much, once, but life kept on getting in the way.. You settled. Shunned creativity, flight, risk, never had the courage to give a dream, any dream, a go.
There were the endless birthday nights and New Year's Eves of just you in your bed and no one else. There was the welling up at weddings, the glittery eye-prick, when all the couples would get up to dance. Sometimes it felt like your heart was crazed with cracks like your grandmother's old saucers. Sometimes the sight of a Saturday afternoon couple laughing in a park would splinter it completely.
An emptiness rules at its core, a rottenness, a silence when one of you retires to bed without saying good night, when you eat together without conversation, when the phone's passed wordlessly to the other. An emptiness when every night you lie in the double bed, restlessly awake, astounded at how closely hate can nudge against love, can wind around it sinuously like a cat. An emptiness when you realize that the loneliest you've ever been is within a marriage, as a wife.
.. No matter how much Theo achieves and acquires and out-dazzles everyone else, she never seems content. She's taught you that people who shine more lavishly that everyone else seem to be penalized by discontent, as if they're being punished for craving a brighter life. I've been knocked down so many times I can't remember the number plates, she said once.
Is it love, obsession, infatuation? You don't know. You think of a strange and beautiful word you read about once, Limerance, a psychological term, meaning an obsessive love, a state that's almost like a drug. Need like a wolf paces the perimeter of your world, back and forth, back and forth, never letting up... You're appalled by the new appetites within you, kicking their feet and clawing to get out.