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"Secrets I Keep From My Husband" by Tejaswinee Roychowdhury

Timir likes being the little spoon and I like burying my face in his thick tousled curls; jet black like the darkness in his name. Tonight, they smell of almond and sweat.

His soft snores remind me of the cross-country road trips I spent with my feet up in the backseat of my father's Chevy. I wonder which star his soul resides in to be sleeping so snugly in my arms; the arms of a shameless woman who has angled away from his torso so that he remains anchored in his dreams. I have to be cautious for I cannot allow him to feel my racing heart.

The once tenacious daisies on the nightstand have lost their vigor; they lean on the crystal vase, limp and withered. It was a wedding gift, that crystal vase ribbed with crystal columns; a gift from Paul.

To feel guilt and shame or to crush the moral compass of mute longings is the grandest question of all as it scoops out my innards and leaves me writhing. The hollow pit inside me grows, threatening to cave in and swallow me whole, and the only escape lies in what makes me so sinfully pained.

Upstairs, Paul starts to play the piano, but the upbeat melancholia in his music opens a memory I had tucked away many nights ago…

Timir was trying to pirouette to the rise and fall of a violin-piano romanza playing on a loop. His technique was off and he resembled the human skeleton of a slow-motion spinning top that kept toppling over. I watched him from the shadows; all six of him in the mirrored walls. When the music faded away for the seventh time, I showed myself. He was surprised to learn that he had an audience all night. We sat on the floor, face to face while I explained where he was going wrong. “Perhaps, you need a partner,” I said. “Perhaps, I need a teacher,” he laughed. I brought him home that night and made love to him.

Paul finishes playing, but I do not hear the claps and the clicking of heels on hardwood floors. It is date night, is it not? Every Saturday night, like clockwork; I keep track of my neighbors, which I can only imagine is not a very nice thing to do but there is no time for petty squabbles between the halo and the horns. My mouth is dry, and my heart is racing faster. One of those hell-bred motorcycles races down the street, driving a dent into the tense night. Timir groans and turns on his back, but he does not wake up.

“That was beautiful!”

There she is. Paul calls her Evona. I have only ever heard her voice, and I love how she just dragged the E in ‘beautiful’. I imagine that if her voice was something tangible, it would be satin; heavy satin enamored with rich thread work by weavers from a long-lost village in France.

I also imagine she enjoys a glass of Merlot while listening to Paul play, or perhaps in a lilac-scented bath; but then again, who doesn’t? She is tall, I believe, and she wears pant-suits, I am certain. I know she is a lawyer; I have often heard her complain about the ‘pricks’ at the law firm. Both Paul and I have come to despise someone named Harris for being a ‘ginormous douchebag’.

I think it amuses her, Paul’s prince-charming-like reaction to her complaining; it is in her voice and she does nothing to hide it. She parades around in a cheap costume of a damsel in high distress, teasing us, taunting us, and haunting us before ripping apart the costume and revealing the scaled dragon-hide underneath whilst cracking her whips and stomping her foot upon our bruised and dog-collared necks.

I can hear them and I envy Paul. I long to kneel before Evona as he does; feel her leather threaten to cut into my flesh as he feels; choke on her fingers coiling around my throat as he chokes. But on a blue December afternoon, I have stood under pink bougainvillea blossoms growing behind a forgotten chapel in front of friends, family, and Paul; and I have vowed to be with Timir in sickness and in health till death did us part. Shameless as I am, I still intend to keep that promise.

So, I do what any guilt-ridden loyal wife does; I plant a nibbly kiss on his warm neck. His lips curl into a smirk I know all too well and I take that as an approval to whisper in his clueless ears, “Darling, I need you to fuck me now.”

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is a Pushcart-nominated writer and poet from West Bengal, India. Her prose has been/is scheduled to be published in Muse India, Taco Bell Quarterly, San Antonio Review, Misery Tourism, Twin Pies, and more. Tejaswinee is the Founding Editor of The Hooghly Review and a lawyer.

Twitter: @TejaswineeRC

Secrets I Keep From My Husband” was first published by Alphabet Box in December 2021.


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