The man she thought she loved

Clara struggles against the urge to wake up. She wills herself to sleep at about four in the morning. She rolls onto her other side, yawns and stretches out onto her back. She dreads waking early and is too tired to sit up, keeping her eyes shut and forcing herself to daydream instead.

Her sleepless husband, already awake and watching the news in the living room, ready to will the world to his prescribed changes. All the lights between their bedroom, stairs and living room blazing. Clara groans and lies on her left side, eyelids fluttering, as she makes out the curtains before her. Why must he lose sleep at all-hours, she wonders. She worries for his health.

Andrew zaps across several news channels, trying to balance what is happening in Europe, the United States and the rest of the world. His mind, blank with exhaustion, emits that tiresome hum. For the past few days, the hum is audible in his ears. He fears the worst, but is too tired to worry, care or do something about it. As with everything else, he withholds this information from Clara.

Clara looks back over the twenty odd years they shared together. She wonders why Andrew’s insomnia takes a turn for the worse at this time of year. He eats more, sleeps less, seems lost and indifferent to his surroundings and once a new challenge arises at work, he tunes back in, smiling, chatty, laughing and loving. Clara cries out to God for clarity in this area of their lives. Talking to Andrew about it, is like drawing blood from a stone. She prays, relishing the calm and peace God ushers into her heart.

Andrew watches more early morning news, focusing on the human stories and intermittently honing in on certain political stories. He gets up onto his feet and petulantly starts his stretch routine. His eyes stare blankly, his heart cold and uncaring. He is fine, he reassures himself, after all, he walks, talks and gets his job done. He mentally wrestles with the curious looks he gets from his wife and children, followed by a dozen questions.

Clara wonders if this is the day she should insist on therapy for him. Odd behavior, like watching melodrama, foreign soaps and wedding shows is clearly uncharacteristic of Andrew. He denies any knowledge of it. He thinks it is developing a fun side to his personality. Clara is certain he is going through a mid-life crisis. She stirs herself, staggering out if bed to the bathroom. She catches her reflection in the mirror, dreading to see the dark circles under her eyes. Much improved, she smiles at her image, delighted at her progress.

Andrew completes a no-perspiration regime and practically kicks the door to their bedroom. His actions fail to line up with his thought and he mechanically heads to the shower. He is silent, staring and intent on completing the second task of the day. The humming in his mind begins to die down in the shower. The relief of the warm water, temporarily drowning out his sorrow, washing away his pain,