John came home late one night, stumbling in, and woke his wife, Julia, after knocking over the lamp to a crash on the floor.
Julia opened her eyes, slowly at first, but after noticing his scent and reaching for the room light, she crossed her arms and spoke in a harsh tone.
“John you must be kidding. Say it isn’t true. There is red lipstick on your collar and it was not me who gave it to you.”
John chuckled, peered at his collar, then laughed some more. “Julia my dear, don’t be such a fool. This patch of red isn’t from lips at all it’s a smear from candle residue.”
Julia stood up, out of bed, peach nightie swaying over her feet. “Candle residue you say you must really suck at lies. That is far fetched and lazy and a stupid alibi.”
Setting a finger to her lips, John whispered softly. “Hush hush my dear, hush hush my sweet, you’re emotions run you over. This isn’t from some girl tonight or a sign of my devotion. You know I love you, you know I do, it’s this that matters much. What good is it to get in fits about some other woman’s touch.”
Julia shoved him away, speaking in a sad sort of anger. “John c’mon, that isn’t good. John you sound like a buffoon. What kind of man comes home at night and issues such foul ruse? Please give me a break dear, please do me justice please. When you come home and tell me such it only ruins my dreams.”
John stepped forward, pressing a hand to her cheek, and smirked as he said, “Julia I love you, Julia you’re mine. The dreams that are running through your head only serve to pass the time. Do not worry my dear, do not long for me. You know that after every night it’s you who sleep with me.”
Julia swatted his wrist away. “John shut up, don’t say such words. John do not be rude. It is not right to tell your wife she is lucky to sleep with you. God forbid, my precious dear, God forbid it’s true. I swear I worry that one day this ego is the real you.”
John tossed his arms up in the air, walked over to the dresser cabinet, set both hands to the sides, and stood at a hunch. “Julia I can’t take this. Julia please see. The ego i keep within me is the reason you’re married to me. I am a man you know that, I am the man you see. I’m going to lose my mind sometime if this is your greeting.”
Julia came behind him, and met eyes with him by way of the mirror glass. “I think I’m getting sick dear, I think I hate your thoughts. I think you’ve thought to small of me to think that you’re my boss. I’m starting to so hate you, I’m starting to dislike. This speak of egoism, it is avarice to a wife. Don’t play me so mean dear, don’t play me so nice. Just give me the all your truths dear, it’s the reason I’m your wife.”
John swung around, pressed both hands to her cheeks, then spoke with a directness to his voice. “Oh please cut me some slack dear, oh please let this be. I’m trying to be fair to you but you must be fair to me. I’m not like other men dear, I’m not a well-tamed mule. I am the wild man you loved and now I’ve settled for you.”
Julia slapped him across the face. “John that’s so terrible. You are terrifying me. You’re thought of you surpasses all that you could ever think of we. I married you for love dear, I married you for you. I like the wild in you, but the wildness can be for two. Let me have a say dear, in this life of yours. Let me be your dear, dear, and forgo all these other whores.”
John took Julia by both shoulders, then shoved her away and onto the foot of the bed. “Woman please relax a bit, please just try to see. I am not the type of man who looks for all the pleasant things. Not just a charm to you dear, I am doll to all. The struggle with my mind is that I’m a lover of the alcohol.”
Julia slouched forward, burying her eyes into her hands as she wept. “Then give it up John please. Give it up for me. This love of toxic poison has now made our marriage into three. Give up your alcohol dear, give up the tonic too. Give up all these women who are constantly seducing you.”
John sat beside her, rubbing her lower back with his hand. “I can try to do this, I can quit it yes. The problem with me here is, I hate myself the best. For it is not ego, it is not what I do, it is my problem with myself I do these things all through. There is no love within me, no cherished space for rest, I have a head on fire, my veins are so distressed. I can never come to quiet, I cannot stop the noise. The voices in my head all say I must be the best of all the boys.”
Julia finally raised her head, swiping a lock of hair away as she met with his eyes. “You know this is a problem, an issue that you see. You know the first step to solving this was to confess it all to me. I am still your wife dear, you know I’m always true. But if you so hate yourself, it must be from what I do. For when we love each other, and when we love the most, it seems to be the voices dear that flee with all the ghosts.”
John stood up, raised Julia’s head, then kissed her on the forehead. “I need to leave right now dear, I need to get out soon. I’m afraid my fight is mine dear, and has now affected you. I did not want to hurt you, I didn’t want you to pay. The demons in my head are mine but now they’ve gone astray. The day that I infect you, the day they are yours too, is the very day I regret, the fact that I so tricked you. I am not a good man here, I am not the one for you. I think it is a problem, when my problems overrule.”
Julia stood up, hurrying over to him, clutching John’s shoulder as he passed through the bedroom door. “John you cannot leave dear! Don’t be so hasty too! We can work it all out dear, that’s why I married you!”
John sighed, turned around, took Julia by the hands, then kissed her on the lips. “Julia I love you. Julia I do. I simply cannot decieve you, that this will not be hurting you. But I know that I must go now, I know I must depart. Oh how I hate the day I met you, because I was a liar from the start.”
John left the room, then the house and shut both doors behind.
– Thomas M. Watt