Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?
Stephanie parked the car and looked in the rearview mirror. Quickly digging inside her purse for her trusty backup kit, she fixed her hair and applied some lipstick.
She was dressed in jeans and lavender blouse, but it would have to do.
Taking a fortifying breath, she got out.
She followed the nurse to the social area. It was only called that because visitors were allowed here, but there were still several nurses and assistants keeping an eye on the patients.
She spotted him in a corner, reading. It was the one thing he still loved, despite the illness.
He stood up when she approached and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He had never been overly affectionate, especially in public.
It took her a moment to get her emotions under control. He seemed so...normal. Casually dressed in jeans and a white long-sleeved shirt, it was as if they were having a quiet afternoon at home. But it wasn't normal.
“How are you?”
She offered a genuine smile. “I am well, thank you.”
“Are you still coping with the business?”
She never told him about selling it and saw no reason to upset him now. “It is doing well,” she replied. It was no lie. The new owner had kept her services as the forensic accountant, so she knew the business was doing well. Much better than she would have done.
He nodded. The silence stretched for a few moments, but she was reluctant to ask any questions since the simplest things could upset him.
She made the mistake once to ask him how he was doing. Very bad idea.
So she waited.
Eventually, he talked about his mother and his sisters, and she just listened. She knew he didn't remember how they treated him, so she said nothing. She also knew they had never visited him. Visitors were required to register and the primary caregiver, her in this case, had to give permission for visits. She had never been asked.
“Would you do me a favour?”
“If—” She caught herself in time. “Yes, of course. What do you need?”
He leaned forward and took her hand. “Promise me you will get married again? You need someone to take care of you. You always wanted children, remember?”
She refrained from saying that she had been taking care of both of them for almost twenty years and that she was past the age of diapers and homework. Instead, she smiled and squeezed his hand gently. “If it will make you happy.”
If she hadn't been watching him, she would have missed the moment when his eyes changed. Quickly releasing her grip, he nonetheless jerked his hand away.
“Who are you?”
Swallowing the helplessness, she got up and backed away.
“What do you want?!”
His shout caught the attention of two nursing assistants, and they rushed over. They didn't ask questions, only took care that he didn't hurt himself when he tried to pull away.
Another nurse came closer and put her arm around her shoulders.
“Come, dear, there isn't anything you can do.”
She nodded and wiped her eyes. “I know. After all this time...”
She didn't say more and allowed the nurse to escort her back to her car.
“It will be okay,” she nurse said as they reached her car.
The woman left to get back to her duties. She sat in the car staring out of the window for long minutes. The nurse had it wrong. Some things will never be okay.
The story is also available on Wattpad