Face of the Hidden
Diana Creel Elarde
I didn’t try to change her words, her rationalization. When she spoke them I nodded, like I was agreeing with her. I was, in principle, in the abstract world where silent words are used without feeling. But the truth was, her words were hollow, not true.
It began to be easier and easier every day to engage in her lie, the truth we never spoke about. I had let the opportunity for truth go by without a word of protest. My agreement became our reality. My lack of denial became the words we then lived by.
It was years before I tried to deny to her the words we had agreed on. The shock, the residue of months upon months of living with the lie had built too many walls, built a new way of life. She looked at me blankly when I tried to tear down the lie. Refusing to acknowledge, the look, her look, stared through me, around me and then moved her on to another task. She hummed when she turned her face, her eyes, from me, perhaps pretending I wasn’t even there. Her hands hurried, stumbling to get all the items in her hand straight and in a line.
I felt foolish standing there unacknowledged, watching her retreat into the web of the lie. Too late for truth rang in my head and I moved out of the room, leaving her to be.
I stand at her grave now, truths and lies buried below my feet. The clouds above me break up and clear to blue skies. Are they an indication of what I should be doing as well? Clear it away, forget it. After all, it wasn’t a heinous crime, nobody died from the lack of truth, but nobody lived either.
I shuffle my feet along the old grass which is still undisturbed from the burial. It is still damp with dew, drops of it cling to my black shoes, causing sparkles of color to appear. They mesmerize me, making me look to examine their color, their form. People walk quietly by me, by the sparkles on my shoes, leaving me in what they perceive as my grief, my loss. I let them leave; relieved to avoid further conversation. How many times can you express grief, sympathy, sorrow? When do the words run out? When are they enough? I wait until I hear the collection of car doors close, one after the other, before I look up.
He’s the only one left. But he will stay silent. He will know by my look, by my walk to his car, not the time for words, no matter what he wants to say. My car door sounds like the others, hard and metal, closing away this time, this grief. And, closing away the lie.
I look back to her site, imagining the stone which will soon mark her place, mark the few words of her life. Born here, died now, lived in-between. Time will cast doubt on what she said, what she believed. Will the day come when I will doubt it too? When time and space will alter my reality and I will accept her words as what was, as what is.
I watch through the car window as we drive away. My face, my eyes reflecting back to me as the sun, the clouds combine for me to see my image in the window. I angle my eyes upward, moving away from my reflection. Not wanting to see either tears or traces of grief in my eyes. I move my sun glasses to my face, becoming now the face of the hidden. The sun, in its wisdom, moves from my window leaving me with only a clear view of her grave.