She refused to tell her husband what they’d done to her, though he asked three times.
First Rob said, “Not telling is worse because imagination creates a forest fire out of a campfire and—”
“It wasn’t a campfire,” she said. She twisted her fingers. “Maybe my imagination is poverty stricken, but I could never think up with what they did, nor could you.”
“I’d never try to diminish—”
“Good,” she said. “You’re a good man, Rob. I know you’d never.”
“Thinking about it makes my hands shake,” he said. “Death for a surgeon.”
She held out her hand, and he thought of a music staff. “Steady,” he said. “Strong phlebotomist fingers.”
“I have to stay steady, otherwise who would trust me to stick them?” Her beautiful voice made him sad.
“Second,” he said six months later, “it’s worse because you won’t trust to tell me.”
“Trust me,” she said.
He pulled her to him. “Hard body,” he said. “Tough body.”
“Why I’m good at what I do. And never sickened by the smell of blood.”
“I envy you that,” he said.
For a year he ignored his curiosity, but it turned scabby, and he had to pick it.
“Third, no matter what you tell me, it can’t be worse than the horrors that play in my mind.”
“And when the horrors turn real—what then, Rob?”
“I’m a doctor. I can only deal with what I know.”
“It will destroy you,” she said.
“You’re afraid it will destroy us.”
“Yes,” she shouted. “Yes, goddamnit, yes. You’ve taken a year to figure that out?”
“I still need to know,” he said.
“More than you need me?”
“I love you.”
“Look, your hands are steady.”
“I’m forty years old. My hand is supposed to be steady. Now, tell me.”
So she told him. And he discovered she had been right all along, about everything.