“What are you concealing?” Frida yelled.
Her husband Vincent sat on his hands at the dining room table. His knuckles were going numb, and he shifted his weight.
Frida glared at him and stooped to try and see the object through a tiny space between his thigh and the polished wooden chair.
“Vince,” she breathed in that long drawn out way that said she was tired of this game.
He didn’t move, wouldn’t even look at her.
If he were a child she’d lift him right up off of his chair and stand him firmly on the ground where she could grill and lecture him on deception. But Vincent was a very large man. He weighed almost three times as much as Frida. She thought of giving up. What did it matter anymore anyway, the things he wanted to hide from her? What more could he possibly do? Burn the house down, maybe. That had almost happened twice already; accidents in his more lucid moments when he remembered that pots were for cooking and cooking meant food in his belly.
Dementia stole those connections in Vincent’s brain, but Frida held a lingering suspicion that whatever Vincent hid from her could do them both a lot of harm. She was too tired or maybe she’d plain lost the imagination to figure out what it could be.
All those years and they never talked about transgressions or funds that vanished, just went on with their daily routines, looking forward to retirement—whatever that was. When the list of to-do’s would shorten, Frida guessed. A vague time in the future she used to dream about when they would finally do something fun, take a trip to someplace exotic like Machu-Picchu. Maybe visit the house in Mexico where her namesake Frida Kahlo lived and died so fiercely.
Frida pulled a chair out from the table and sat. “What a brave woman Frida was.” She said it wistfully like she used to say things when she knew the house was empty. She was looking at the wall, not at Vincent.
She reached out and touched his shoulder. Still looking at the wall she said, “Remember? Remember when Tommy was little and I told you one night about my worries that he wouldn’t have any friends and he’d get into drugs and something awful would happen to him?...And you said ‘Tommy is fine. You need to get out of the house and do something…It’s making you crazy’.”
She tucked her hands in her lap, then she stood up suddenly and left the room.
Vincent sat there a long time, though he no longer had a concept of time. Shadows lengthened across the table and it began to get dark. He shifted his weight again and laid his hands on the table. He forgot what he was sitting on or even that he’d tried to hide something from the woman who took care of him.
“Frida,” he said to no one, “brave.” LS
"Fiction gives a second chance that life denies us."