(This week's Search Engine Fiction prompt was 'The Hill', here is my attempt)
I met him on a windy day while walking along the bottom of what I was to come to know was his hill. At the top, sat his house, a 20th century gray glass and cement block that when I first saw it forced a gasp out of me for its ugliness. No one said it out though. Everything about Doctor was revered, no matter what the truth of it might be.
It started as an accidental encounter which slipped into a daily meeting and soon after, while his wife sat in her ghastly house drinking tea and organising charity events, we became lovers.
“What do you even see in me?” he’d ask most days. I had no answer. He was right, though; there was nothing sensible about it. He was more than thirty years my senior. We had nothing in common to discuss, so we discussed everything in the world that was not a part of us. We lay for hours in my sunny bedroom with rainbows dancing on the walls made by the batch of crystals hanging in the window and talked of the silliness of afghan dogs and the beauty of the Sahara Desert, the taste of squid and the sound of the bells of Notre Dame.
Since I promised myself there would be no tears, I pull my mind away from those sunny days and I concentrate instead on this gray one, full of clouds low in the sky aching to drop their heavy load but being considerate enough to wait until Doctor was properly buried. Though he once told me both he and his wife came from poor farming families up north, she has the arrogance of the first generation rich and is burying him in the ‘family graveyard’ up on their hill. I wonder what’s written on the other tombstones: “Goldie- our fishy friend, rest in peace” and “Bobby- May he enjoy the big hamster wheel in the sky”. I smile at that, thinking how Doctor would have laughed; he was a fan of my sarcasm.
I stand at the back hoping I won’t be noticed. I know they all know about me, but I don’t care. I’m not here for them, I’m here for him. Besides to acknowledge me and what I was to him would be acknowledging Doctor was an adulterer and no one was prepared for that. His grown daughter keeps giving me looks over her padded shoulder hoping I’ll understand. I understand, I just have no notion of leaving.
The wind blows ever so slightly warning that the rain won’t wait much longer. The priest hurries along. Doctor’s wife sits on a chair near the grave, she looks like a maple leaf in late autumn, I fear she may crumble and blow away. I’ve seen her once or twice in town, the queen of her small kingdom; she gave me no notice, another of her subjects, nothing more. Doctor rarely spoke about her, so she was a stranger to me too.
Seventeen years with him; it seems a lifetime but then again only an instant. When I came to this town I was on my way, it was only a stop, a stop to sit and think and decide my next move. Seventeen years later and I’m still here. I’m too proud to say I stayed for him; a man is not a reasonable reason to slow down a woman like me. I didn’t stay for him, for seventeen years I was just stopping, deciding my next move; decisions needn’t always be made in a rush, he taught me that.
The priest is finishing and the group, larger than I expected, head toward the house. When I see the grave diggers move in to cover Doctor up, I walk to the grave. They stop when they see me and move away.
I look down at the expensive casket at the bottom of the hole and force myself to see him lying dead inside. I want to make sure I accept that my seventeen year stop is over.. Many might say wasted years as the other woman; the second choice. Not for me. Purposeful, chosen, secret special moments for us only. Wives get non-stop public appearances with no meaning, but me, I know each second spent with me was a gift he gave me on a golden tray with red roses in a thin porcelain vase. Not seventeen wasted years, seventeen years lived.
I nod at the grave diggers to let them know they can continue and I make my way down his hill. My car is packed, my direction mapped out, my stop here is now over. It’s time to move on; I’ve been released from my indecision. And the raindrops, finally, are allowed to fall.