Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Road Not To Be

It had been bad. The worst one yet. Lots of screaming, accusations, name calling, eye rolling, and pushing, well, she had been pushing. He had been overly careful not to touch her. Not wanting to make it worse, not wishing every interaction they had as husband and wife to be negative, even if their marriage only existed on paper. She didn’t want it to have to be this way, but it had to be. She had to fight, especially now that the twins had been born. She had to push back at him as hard as she could. Show him she was just as strong as he was. She had to make him understand that he could never ever hurt her again.

And she was winning too, until it happened. Until he suddenly stood still, stared at her with those eyes that melted her soul and calmly asked, “Samantha?” Because then he collapsed. And she ran to him and screamed his name, over and over again until she regained enough composure to call for an ambulance. She held his hand with both of hers the entire way, telling him that he’d be okay, insisting that he would through will alone.

She wore the bottom of her shoes out pacing the hallway at the hospital. Thank goodness she had found someone to watch the twins-she was too anxious to think. After eons had passed, the surgeon came out and said that he would recover. That it had been an aneurysm. That it could have happened at any time. That it wasn’t her fault. She had asked if stress could have been a factor. The surgeon said yes. She remembered thinking that it never occurred to her that if she pushed him hard enough, he might break.

He was awake when they let her into his hospital room later on. He looked adorable in his bed with the bandages around his head. He smiled at her immediately and in typical fashion, wanted to know more about how she was doing than he himself was. She said that she was fine. And everything was as it was between them until he looked down and noticed her wedding ring. He complemented her on how impressive it was. She joked that her husband liked to spoil her. He laughed and agreed.

And then he asked her how Austin was.

She had stared at him for too long. He repeated the question. Then she realized he was serious. She hadn’t been prepared, but she had hid her surprise well, somehow making it out of the room without saying anything more. The doctors and specialists weren’t much help. She had asked them how he had managed to forget more than a year of his life while still remembering mostly everything else, and all they could say is that it wasn’t typical. That aneurysms usually didn’t involve memory loss, and that it wasn’t supposed to happen. Wasn’t supposed to? It didn’t matter what was supposed to have happened, it had happened. Would he remember eventually? Perhaps. Maybe not. She yelled at them, called them frauds, but it didn’t help. No good answers. Now what?

Eventually she had gone back into his room and explained to him that he was her husband. He didn’t believe her at first. Kept making jokes, asking her what was really going on. But when she called him by his given name out of frustration, the doubt turned to shock. How did she know? She told him again that he was her husband. And then he looked at her with amazement in his eyes and wanted to know everything. Every detail of their life together past that magical time dancing in that old house, after which, everything went blurry and then blank for him. So she told him the truth. How she couldn’t marry Austin because she had been attracted to him. How they had dated all throughout October and November. How he had held her and told her he was Elvis DiMera on the steps of his mansion as it snowed in early December. How they had a snowball fight and made snow angels together after he apologized for not telling her sooner. How they had spent all Christmas through New Years Eve by each other’s side. How she had surprised him by making cookies for him on Valentine’s Day. How he had gotten plastered on St. Patrick’s Day and sick on chocolate at Easter. How he always took her shopping and bought her whatever her heart desired. How she finally managed to talk him into going to a baseball game. How, with his help, she got revenge on Lucas for good and how she finally broke away from her family and their corrosive influence. How excited he had been when she told him she was pregnant with his children and how beautiful the birth of their twins was. How he was a magnificent father. How he gave her everything she could ever want, including a lovely wedding. How happy she was with him. How much he loved her and how much she loved him. Because it was the truth….if only both of them had been willing to admit everything earlier. It was the truth that should have been, that was now that they were together.

And he bought it. All of it. She had told it well, and it was exactly what he wanted to hear. Being the town pariah came in handy as they were left alone for the most part. No chance of him finding out anything other than what she had said. And life went on. Him, her, and their children. She didn’t know she could be this fulfilled. She couldn’t have imagined it. She no longer had to force the pieces of her life together. She never would have chosen it for herself, to be married to a man who was supposedly one of her greatest enemies, yet everything was as it should have been all along. Everything fit. And it was even better than it was before. Now she no longer had to fight him. Now she no longer had to remember all the pain they had caused each other. And neither did he. She no longer saw the hesitation in his eyes.

She was never going to tell him.

It happened one night many months later when she thought he had fallen asleep. Chasing after their children had exhausted both of them and they were lying in their bed together. He suddenly opened his eyes, looked at her, and told her he was sorry. She asked why. He said for everything and his gaze told her that he meant everything. She looked at him in surprise, and he explained that he didn’t recall every single detail, but he knew enough. Enough to figure it all out, and that he had known for a few weeks. She told him she wasn’t sure where he was going with this revelation, why he hadn’t said anything. He said that he knew, he knew why she lied to him and why she continued to do so. And that he never would have said anything except that he had to tell her.

And then he looked at her with those eyes that decoded her heart and told her that besides their children, wanting their life together to have been different was the greatest gift she could ever give him. And that he loved her.

Then she told him she loved him. And then they kissed forever.

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