“‘At around this time…my husband began to change in ways that were so small they were impossible to identify and at the same time impossible to ignore. It was almost as if he had become a copy or forgery of himself, someone otherwise identical who nonetheless lacked the authentic quality of the original. And indeed whenever I asked him what was wrong, he would always say the same thing, which was that he wasn’t feeling quite himself. I asked our sons if they had noticed anything, and for a long time they denied it, but one evening, after the three of them had gone to a football match—something they did regularly—they admitted I was right and that he was somehow different. Again, it was impossible to say what the difference was, since he looked and behaved as normal. But he wasn’t really there, they said, and it occurred to me that this quality of absence might signify he was having an affair. And indeed one evening in the kitchen shortly afterward he suddenly said, very somberly, that he had some news for me. In that moment…I felt our whole life cleave apart, as though someone had cut it open with a great bright blade; I almost felt I could see the sky and the open air through the ceiling of our kitchen and feel the wind and rain coming through the walls. I had watched other couples separate…and it was usually like the separation of Siamese twins, a long drawn-out agony that in the end makes two incomplete and sorrowing people out of what was one. But this was so swift and sudden…a mere slicing of the rope that tethered us, that it felt almost painless. My husband was not having an affair, however,’ she said, tilting her head back toward the dull, gray sky and blinking her eyes several times. ‘What he had to tell me was not that our life together was over and that I was free, but that he was ill…an illness, moreover, that would not hasten his death but would instead blight every aspect of the life that remained to him. We had been married twenty years…and he could easily live twenty more, the doctors had told him, each day losing some fact of his autonomy and potency, a reverse kind of the evolution that would require him to pay back every single thing he had taken from life. And I, too, would have to pay…because the one thing that was forbidden to me was to desert him in his time of need, despite the fact that I no longer loved him and perhaps had never really loved him, and that, equally, he might not have ever loved me either. This would be the last secret we had to keep…and the most important one, because if this secret got out, all the others would, too, and the whole picture of life and of our children’s lived we had made would be destroyed.’”
Justice,” Rachel Cusk

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