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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 29 page 13


Needing to be alone, to think, to find a path through, he takes a long walk. His thoughts come back to his new love. Her nods and yeses, as Miguel talked about ending his marriage, encouraged him. However, she said nothing about her own. Doubt! He was certain she too felt love, loved him, but neither had said anything about love for the other. Such a difference had she said something and if he did as well, he’d find certainty and courage. But what if she didn’t love him or, worse, what if she did but would not end her marriage?

Miguel sees, in one of those lucid, lightning-fast images, the possibility of losing everything. Fear and then nausea reduce him again to hugging his body, this time to quell a terrifying pain. He begins to cry. He finds a park, a bench in a private nook, sits, holding himself, body shaking. Better to die, right here and now, he thinks, bring this to an end because the future is filled with nothing but dread.

Miguel isn’t the sort of man to die, not of despair, not of failure, not from transgression. He isn’t just feeling sorry for himself; rather he is in a bind. No, it is more than that: he is trapped, yes, ensnared, an act of his choosing. Do you choose to fall in love? You choose the circumstances, or at least he did. But do you control or even manage your heart? Did he choose not to fall in love with his wife? Of course not! He chose to marry her and stay with her and have children with her. He tried to be in love with her. But he isn’t and hasn’t been able to make his heart open in that way. So he can say to himself he is responsible for his actions but, in some manner he doesn’t fully understand, he isn’t responsible for his feelings.

These thoughts come to him as he sits on the park bench. Looking around, he sees the day is beautiful. Warmth in the air, trees lush and green. The scene prompts vague recollections of childhood in this city, of running with his friends, playing soccer, riding bikes, exploring. All of them went to church and he served for a while as an altar boy.

The thoughts and memories change his spirits, begin to lift him out of the black mood. The impossible tangle remains but he will find a way through. Now he must end his marriage. It will be very hard. He will leave this city soon, and return to his home in the far-away place. Once there he will settle at least that part of his torment.

And so he did go home, two days later. He greeted his wife, hugged and kissed, and in some odd way was both pleased and relieved to see her. He hugged and kissed his children, his sixteen year old daughter looking at him closely, questioningly he thought. Is she that intuitive? The moment passed and he turned to handing out the gifts he had brought. His wife was delighted with the jewellery, carefully picked out, a selection of colourful earrings and bracelets from local artisans in the markets. She immediately began putting them on and to dance some imaginary dance as she waved her arms and flashed the colours. The children laughed, his wife hugged him. He had done well.

That night in bed, his wife turned to him in her familiar way. Miguel had not thought of this. They kissed and touched. Miguel let that much happen but knew he shouldn’t, said to himself this isn’t right. Finally, he kissed her on the forehead. I’m tired from the trip, he said, turned away, tried to sleep. He could not remember ever having refused love-making. Worse, in fact, he was hungry for it, much hungrier than he thought possible. But he must turn away.

He returned to his job and, to his surprise, returned quickly to his everyday life. It was a relief. He realized he didn’t have to act immediately. No facing his wife, no separation, no divorce. He needed time. This is all too difficult.

Spring, fully arrived while he was away, brought the soccer season. Miguel loved the game, played with enthusiasm, his middle-aged body thriving with every move and every run. His teammates commented. Some speculated about his time away. They were suggestive, teasing Miguel, who felt uncomfortable but did not answer.