Sitting with my wife and grown-up son waiting to board the train to Cornwall I saw a lady from my past walk by, catching my eye as she had so many years before. She was my first wife and the woman I loved and lost before the time I had discovered the conflict between appetite and judgement.
She said nothing but her eyes asked “Do you miss me?” and the answer will always be “Yes.” Back in those reckless years I indulged in a night of passion with a colleague only to discover a month later that she was pregnant:the matter was made worse by the fact that soon all at work heard the news and the unspoken question to me was “Are you honourable,” though clearly I was not.
Like many men of appetite I pretend to be moral with those who do not know me, and that pretence caught me in its grasp, forcing me from the marital home: abortion was not an option in those years and standing by the woman, any woman you had placed in social jeopardy, the unspoken rule.
She,my first wife said she would forgive me and I remember her crying as she said it: I was crying, as I told her the news, aware of how I had allowed myself to lose her presence and fall through a trap-door into that pitiless and indifferent darkness we call misery: I am left acting “happy” while self-knowledge eats me from within: non-committal and merciless.
On instinct I found myself rising from my seat and hurrying after my first wife, my dear and only love, who I had not seen in thirty years. I grabbed her arm and turning her round said to those familiar always treasured eyes “Don’t you miss me?” I knew I could never lie again when I was with her. “You were always more in love with yourself than me” she said before freeing her arm and walking from my life again.
Turning round I saw my wife, the controller, staring up at me and with my son at her side. She said. “ Do not come to Cornwall!”
The truth, it seems, is best avoided and seldom comforting!