A man keeps a secret from his wife, again and again.
“Arthur?” Abbey called sweetly.
“Yes, “He responded cautiously, knowing the ritual would begin now.
His wife stepped into the hall smiling brightly, her color high. Arthur could see the girl he fell in love with decades ago. He felt a dizzying combination of endearment for her, and hatred for himself, for what he would do.
“Arthur,” A tear trembled in her eye, threatening to spill down her soft wrinkled cheek. “I have a surprise for you.”
“Oh,” Arthur asked innocently, the guilt over his deception as familiar and painful as the ache in his hip. “A surprise?"
“We’re gonna be grandparents!”
Again, he thought, and never.
“That’s wonderful!” he felt instant shame at his enthusiasm, and toned it down. “That’s wonderful, Abigail.”
“Arthur?” there was fear in her voice and he wondered if deep down she knew “Is something wrong.”
“No, I couldn’t be happier.”
“We should celebrate.” She beamed, the concern vanished.
"Yes," He agreed, "I'll wash up."
"Be quick...Grandpa!" she teased playfully, sixteen once more.
As he stood at the kitchen sink, scrubbing the dirt from his hands, Arthur resumed an old debate. His wife had a right to the truth, no matter how many times her illness made her forget. He imagined sitting Abbey down to explain their grandchild was never born, to tell her about the fire and... for the first time, Arthur wondered who he was really protecting.
He pushed the thoughts away. It was better that they celebrate again.