To say that it struck like lightning would be folly, a vain attempt to sunder from all liabilities. There were signs: going incommunicado for hours, for days; disappearing acts that conclude at the blasphemous hour of three in the morning; money lost under the guise of being pickpocketed, of being held up for the first time ever(and he was a giant of a man, at that); rare material wants denied(and yet he just bought two, three phones, among other things); women in provocative poses infesting wallpapers like an epidemic, like a teen driven by hormones(and he was 56, with a wife, and three kids); wallet and phones nowhere hid, even for his spouse(as was said, he just bought new ones for himself); red lace in his suitcase that nobody owned, id pictures of a wench in his suitcase unnamed(and my mother kept this secret for half a year and two, kept her grief to herself). These were pustules in the pretty picture we had in our heads. We did not pry: it was too late when the tumor revealed itself.
To say that we were pre-occupied, that we did not care could be an excuse, a ruse: an easy way out. He never spoke during the confrontation, even when the mistress(and there were three, sisters, in fact) admitted, then subsequently denied all allegations. The tangled loops and frayed ends of her stories, her lies, her myths sprung from her mouth like sentient, resilient weeds, even as the noose tightened about her neck, even as we doused the kindling, the logs, as we lit our torches. He stood silent. The tears ran freely from mama's eyes and her wails warbled, dissonant, profound: her dreams she kept in a box all these years for the man who swore to be her strength, they broke free from their velvet prison wilted and dried and black; the dignity she's held on to all these years, she let go: she was a husk, a woman scorned, a wife scorned, a mother scorned whose anger and anguish wove from sobs to screams to sobs to screams. I held on to her, and my cousin, too, consoling the inconsolable, asking her not to give in: that she had children. Even as we gave her water to calm her down, he stood silent.
To say that we were unaware is a lie. We had an inkling, and it whispered to us in our sleep, yet we denied it. To assume that everything could go back to the way it was is foolish: how do you make whole the slivers of maligned crystal? Who knows? Maybe it is all too late.
The House That Built Me