Terence Kuch
Clarity
 
      after Jean Baudrillard
 
 
             Donald turned to his left. He looked toward Claire, couldn’t see her in the darkness. Here, out in the country, there were no street lights, few cars. Only a rumble of distant thunder. He wished he could see her face, there in bed, there where he heard her quiet breath. Or not; he hesitated to see her innocence. Should he wake her, tell her about Maxine? But it was all over between him and Maxine, now. Had been over for a month. Or more. So perhaps he should say nothing to Claire, in spite of their having sworn, long ago, to tell each other “everything.” Certainly he had told her nothing about Maxine in those three months, those hot, frantic evenings when Claire was away at her yoga class.
            Or perhaps he should tell her right now, confess, get it out, start over again with new vows of honesty. But that would be difficult. Why would a new vow be any better than the one he’d broken? He stared over into the darkness, decided not to wake her. He’d broach the subject in the morning. Or not. Claire didn’t like to be awakened, anyway. Certainly not at two a.m. Nor later -- and again his talisman of indecision: ‘perhaps.’
            No, he decided, he’d just let his transgression pass, be forgotten in the collapse of time past and ago. What would she say about Maxine, anyway, if he were to tell her? Better not put her on the spot. Be sensitive. Don’t let everything out. Breathing space between two selves and so on.
            Just then, a nearby lightning bolt. In the second of light before sound tore through his mind he saw Claire awake, looking at him: a question, a problem on her face. Perhaps a problem like Donald’s. He didn’t have time to close his eyes and pretend to be asleep. Neither did Claire.