Hiding From the Elephant


They sat in the barely lit living room, a fire crackling in the fireplace. He adjusted himself in his high back chair while he stared into the flames. She sat up from the chaise lounge and stared over at him.

“Are we going to talk about this?” Her voice was soft, but carried a heavy weight to her words.

He rustled back into reality. “I’m sorry. What?” He turned his head toward her.

“I said, are we going to talk about this?” She swung her legs over the edge of the lounge and sat, facing him, her arms supporting her as she placed her elbows on her legs and clasped her hands together.

“I really,” his voice caught in his throat. He cleared it, then started over. “I really don’t see what the point is in talking about it.” He turned back toward the fire.

“John, we need to talk about this.” She leaned heavier toward him. “I need to talk about this.” She emphasized the words by pointing at her chest. “It’s been three weeks, and you haven’t even brought it up once.”

He continued to stare at the fire, his fingers digging into the arms of the chair. “I said I don’t want to talk about it. Why do you keep insisting that we do?” His words came out through clenched teeth.

She reached a hand out toward him. “I’m sorry. I just…” her voice trailed off. His arm tensed even tighter as he felt her fingers touch his skin. He knew she needed him, but he just couldn’t be there for her, not now, not while his world felt so destroyed.

Her hand slipped off his arm in the silence and she hung her head, her hair covering her face and the tears that began to flow down her cheeks. “I’m sorry.” Her voice cracked with the tears. “I’ll… I’ll leave you alone.” She sniffled, then began to rise from her seat.

His heart ached. He wanted so desperately to reach out to her, to stop her from crying. He knew she needed him, but he was stuck. He was supposed to be the strong one, and yet, here he sat, broken and unable to move forward. Her pain was calling to him, calling him to be the hero for her, but his fear in moving from this place froze him. Somehow, it had become comfortable.

She stepped to the door that separated the den from the house and stopped. Leaning heavily on the frame, she turned one last time toward him. “I’m going upstairs. Come up if you want.” She took a deep breath and mustered her strength. “I love you.”

John could feel the wrenching in his throat, the swelling of pain that comes right before he would stifle his tears. This time, though, it was too much to hold, too much to try to keep down. He could feel the moisture welling in his eyes. He had to let go. Somehow, he was able to find his voice, and the words cracked coming out of his mouth.

“I miss our daughter so much.”

His words were like an explosion to his repressed emotions and the damn of his sorrow broke forth setting his tears free.

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