It’s three AM, and I’m drunk, sitting at my kitchen table, pleading with the room not to spin. I trace my finger along the gold embossing on the cover of my green diary. Most of the revelers have gone home, and are tucked away in the privacy of their own beds. Edith and Bracks have passed out in the back yard, on a futon we dragged out there specifically for them.
Rachel is curled up on the couch next to William. He has his arms around her. He sounds the same when he sleeps next to her as when he sleeps next to me.
Lila is in her crib, and Henry is in our bed.
It was a good party.
When Rachel and I came out to greet our friends, I found that Henry had already lit the candle motifs along the lush pathway in our backyard. There is magic in our space. Orange hyacinths and lavender grow in humid clumps along the path from our fence to the patio. On the patio sit chairs and covered tables. Freshly cut wildflowers lie in baskets at the center of the tables. At first, only a few of our friends sat together, enjoying cocktails and each others’ company. As Rach and I hopped down the steps from the house, everyone stood with open arms to greet us. This is how we are.
We are warm and open and affectionate with each other. It is exactly as I’d always dreamed of. Briefly, I am happy with this simple facade.
Lila has already found Edith’s lap, and she traces stars on Edith’s cheeks with her chubby fingers. Henry is serving bottles of cola and beer as he looks up to see me. He still bares a light of joy for me. I try not to be sad about how he’d hurt if he knew of my betrayal. Our betrayal.
I don’t mean to be hurtful.
But as I sit here, alone and up in the middle of the night, drunk and tracing the gold flowers on my green book, I remember how he hurt me. How he found the hiding place of the diary of a naive girl of sixteen. How he watched me as I hid it away, wrapped in a roll of butcher’s paper, tucked behind the pile of lumber up against my father’s house.
I remember how he secretly snuck it out of there while I was helping Mutti prepare dinner. How he read the words that I poured out as a giddy child playing the role of a young girl in love.
And how I found out because my sister’s new husband was the one who told me. “We planned it. And now I have your sister and you have your soldier. And we are happy now. Why don’t you let it go?”
And with that knowledge, I still allowed him to slip my ruby ring onto my finger. I was so young. She seduced me.