A Secret Grief


In these last days and hours before my final breath may I, Gordon Richard Carlson, lay my guilt and thoughts before you as a matter of conscience, if not regret, so that I might meet my maker free of worldly deceit, if nothing else.

I was, and largely remained, a man of detail, head of the Office Of Statistical Analysis in the county where I live. My wife also worked because I was, by her own admission, incapable of supporting a household of any standing by myself.

She was punctilious in all matters of social standing and appearance, insuring maintenance of the marital home in everything but intimacy: no carpet was uncleaned or dish unwashed, no book undusted, though not read, and everything maintained to standards of unfeeling excellence I always thought. Does that sound too bitter or too harsh?

To me she was correct in everything which did not involve mess or unleashed joy and I lived by those dictates while quietly shrinking inside myself, unaware of my own circumstance till events conspired to provide me with an alternative.

As the demands on my department grew, staffed only by me, I was offered an assistant who would help me with my work. Clarice Brown, ordinary to the casual glance, that was her view, was beautiful to my shy and awkward gaze. She grew to love me, as I did her: being together gave purpose to our days. Our feelings grew silently over time as duties conspired to entwine our lives and then our hearts.

She was a younger person than me by eighteen years and the product of a strict and controlling family, still living with her mother and father, and I was a man just past his fortieth birthday, sited somewhere beyond hope, but gentle I like to think, and caring of the unregarded in a way which gradually gained her attention and then her love. We formed a conspiracy of private and diffident urgencies unnoticed by the world.

One Friday, and recklessly, I pinned her up against the filing cabinet and told her I loved her. She knew all about the barren pieties which were my home but, faced with this commitment and sincerity, I felt her pious resolve melt and then we kissed. We kissed more each day, two souls who found purpose in each other’s lives. Our hearts bonded in secret desperation until, over the coming months, as intimacies grew beyond anything I had previously known we became lovers in every physical sense.

I loved her then and now. We discovered what life and urgency might bring to those who think that “Ordinary” is not a world they seek. Finally I decided, regardless of the cost, that I would leave my wife and marry her, and walk the path of knowledge without guilt.

I bought a ring, premature I recognise, to pledge my love, and prepared to place my life in her palm and tell my wife that all we had was gone but Clarice did not come to work that day, or any day again: an accident had robbed me of her life and longed for destiny.

By some bewildering chance, our love and intimacy had grown without it being public knowledge so when I was told that Clarice Brown had been involved in an accident and killed I merely nodded and said, “How sad” because privacy of emotion is the last sanctuary of the disenfranchised.

I attended her funeral, together with my wife, and passed on our commiserations to her family; giving my own feelings the weight they deserved, which is no weight at all.

Now thirty-six years later I slide away from life, breathless and without strength. My wife, punctilious to the last and ignorant of my feelings, visits me in hospital every day, noting the cost of my daily treatment. We have, and had, no pets, because pets can make a mess, and no children because that requires intimacy, unsettling at best, but we have a house, paid for now, and paintings of value I believe, which she will possess when I am gone.

But if there is a hope in life’s eternities, Clarice will greet me at the gates, kiss me with that warmth she always did, and walk with me across Infinity. If there is hope.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in Affair, creative writing, Fiction, Love, Middle East, morals, Peter Wells, Romance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to A Secret Grief

  1. Nyambura says:

    A beautiful story, yet sad at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mikesteeden says:

    Let us hear it for Clarice!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. inaschroderszeeders says:

    What a great write. And sad. But at least they had some happiness together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Al says:

    Ah, the wife with no name. One wonders how many other nameless spouses reside among us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Terribly poignant. Loved this. Beautiful imagery.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. renxkyoko says:

    Beautiful story , though I feel bad for the wife.

    Like

  7. unepenséepartagée says:

    I like the concluding paragraph, lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really like the sense of detachment with which this story is written. Certainly sad, but do we not choose the road down which we travel, picking up those whom we need along the way? Great writing, Peter.

    Like

  9. Exquisite writing. Thank you.

    Like

  10. ksbeth says:

    “everything which did not involve mess or unleashed joy ” – the opposite of my approach to life. what a great line.

    very sad, yet happy for the fact that they found each other and realized a genuine and mutual love at last.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gwpj says:

    Beautiful, tragic and very well written

    Like

  12. Sue Vincent says:

    Beautifully told, Peter, and encapsulates the lives of so many who are enslaved by convention and propriety, without the courage to Live.

    Like

  13. Scarlet says:

    Bittersweet and poignant. There is always hope.
    Sx

    Like

  14. Ohhhhhhhhh, Peter!)))) x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I feel badly for those who believe that there is nothing after you die. I hold out hope that we all will be welcomed to that next adventure (whatever its form or shape) by those souls still tied to us by some ephemeral bond—a bond, I believe, established before we even met them. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. nelle says:

    If there is hope.

    I hope his hope was fulfilled.

    I hope America is not in the deep shit in which I believe it is now fully immersed.

    Hope is everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There is a Hope, the only Hope on which Christ the solid rock I stand. I hold these truths to be self evident. I somehow see your angle if you have no hope. Thanks for sharing Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. George F. says:

    I believe I actually started reading your blog for a larger purpose. Thanks!

    Like

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