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The Lady or the Tide

by Kat Beyer

If I give it back to her, she will walk all the way down the shining valley to the sea. She will step into the water and never return, if I give it back.

She might not. But I think I know. I've heard the stories at closing time down the pub (no one tells them at the start of the night, before the dark and the rain). It might be modern times, we might park a Range Rover where my grandfather kept his cart, but I know—I'm not such a modern educated man that I can't feel this truth under my skin and hers—it's what drew me to her, after all.

And I will be left here, to mind our children until they mind themselves, mind themselves away to college and London no doubt, and I am left to grow old sitting in the same patch of sun my father sat in, pining and looking down the valley to the sea.

But if I never say anything, and I leave it hid in the thatch where I first put it, I will have kept a secret from her, my own wife, my heart outside myself.

I once thought to put it in a deposit box at the bank. People in the stories always leave things like this about to be found, it seems. I wanted to be wiser and safer. But the thatch seemed the right place. There is no explaining it, I suppose.

If I never say anything, I will know what she does not. It will be like the secrets some other men in here keep, about women in Oban or Glasgow. The wives who do not know make my heart ache. But then, some of the husbands don't know either: they make my heart ache too.

I couldn't have that kind of secret—how could I love anyone else but her? No house has been warmer, no children brighter eyed and sounder hearted. Sometimes with her, one glass of wine seems to last all summer.

She's away today with the children, up the coast, and I'm standing here, looking down the valley to the water, holding this sealskin in my hand, waiting for the sea and my own heart to return the answer.


Very well done. While I don't normally like stories that end before the decision is made, it feels right here. And my heart aches along with him... :-)

Posted by: Jeri Lynn | February 6, 2008 8:40 AM

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