Living the Lie
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.
“I bet she wears the pants in that family!”
Two receptionists sit in my doctor’s office, unaware that they can be heard in the next room. Their remarks aren’t catty, however. It’s just mild gossip and speculation.
The woman has just been taken back to the doctor’s exam table. She’s friendly, open-hearted, in charge. She has her life together. Now.
The speculation continues. The woman’s former husband was just in the day before, to pay a bill for his brother, and he’s such a quiet man. Mild-mannered, sub- missive, subdued. The receptionists quickly peg who left whom when the marriage ended and why.
Sitting in the reception area, I poke my head around the corner and try to stop laughing. “You’re wrong,” I tell them. “It was a classic case of abuse.”
They frown, not understanding. “She abused him?” one asks.
“She is pretty feisty,” the other agrees.
“No. Words are sometimes slings and arrows,” I try to explain. “Sometimes it’s the things said under the breath that are the most devastating.”
The women grow quiet, thoughtful. Finally one nods, then shrugs. “But he’s always so nice in public.”
I smile. “Like they say, you never really know what goes on between two people in private. It’s easy to second-guess based on the facades you see in public. It’s easy to think you know because you see someone ten minutes a month.”
The nurse calls me back and I stall in the doorway. I’m sure my friend won’t mind what I’m divulging. “She never wore the pants in that relationship. It may be a natural thing for her now and in other relationships, but for some reason, with her ex-husband, she was a different person.”
Looking back, I think she was a different person because she was trying to be someone else—what he wanted her to be and not who she was.