better left unsaid

She’s staring up at you so innocent and wondering. She’s at the cusp of when life begins. When dreams come true and it isn’t naive to think so.

“Did dad wait…for you,” she lingers before the last words as if in hopeful admiration. her face is eager. It’s looking up at you, thirsting, with starry eyes so shielded from hurt and so prejudiced in his favor. And the TV light from the old black and white film throws dancing beams of light and dark on her youth.

She’s waiting.

And your stomach churns with the weight of the truth that he didn’t. You haven’t thought about this in years, yet after all this time it still hurts. And you never once foresaw this being a lasting wound or that you’d address it with your children and that it would still steal the color from your cheeks and the life from your eyes.

You shift your weight on the couch and finally answer, protecting him. That of course he waited. As true love always does.

You think the answer satisfies her. But you wonder if she picks up on what isn’t said. What is heard in your hesitation. What is seen in glassy eyes. And shrunken shoulders. And at 18 she’s young but smart and she squeezes your hand minutes later when the movie is over and you’re paralyzed, watching the credits fall like they were a part of the film.

And you wonder what would happen had he never told you at all. If you’d just lived and loved all these years so blissfully unaware. Of her. And her. And of her and her and her. And the credits continue to fall in your gaze.
Maybe you should have told her the truth, as he did you. But some small part of you whispered otherwise. And it’s the same small part of you that still believes in a pure love and wants her to believe in that too.

So in the end you were not so much protecting him, as you were your own shattered heart and the one tiny piece that remained so powerfully in tact. And it’s that tiny piece that beats for hers so whole and complete and believing.

And you nod as if in agreement with yourself that it was all so very much better left unsaid.

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