'Infidelity' by Vicky Hinault
He regarded himself so highly that everyone who met him did too. He was infectious, the centre of the party and as it came to be the centre of my life.
The day I met him I noticed the tag on his ankle, he looked at me and smiled. I smiled back, instead of seeing something to fear I saw something to love. He of course didn’t know this and shuffled on the spot until his jeans fell a little lower, ensuring the gray plastic strap was no longer on show. We talked and shared stories and after that evening he was gone.
Years later he came into my life again and I found myself at the centre of his attention and of the attention that was showered on him. I was envied, asked intimate questions. I would never oblige their queries, but he would answer everything. They would stare into his eyes whenever we went out, enraptured by him but, as time passed, I noticed how they went dark, only re-lighting when someone new was drawn to him.
Away from the parties and the crowds the darkness around him swelled and enveloped him and everything he did. As the months went by, on the lazy days that we would lay together, our pillow talk became littered with his morose thoughts of loneliness and betrayal. His frailty spilling onto the sheets with each confession or moment of befalling silence.
He would talk to me about loyalty, about how I must never leave him and about how my love was keeping him alive. Then I would watch him sleep, listen to him mumble and watch the beads of sweat form on his ribs as he shuffled fearful throughout the night.
He’d ask me every morning if he’d spoken in his sleep, fearful that his darkest of secrets may have been revealed against his will. I would shake my head and tell him no. Tell him he barely moved all night. I never betrayed him, even when he betrayed himself and because of this I learnt his darkest of secrets.
Eventually though as he slept soundly after exorcising his ghosts I began to lay awake, the images of his past haunting me, his nightmares playing in my head, his murmured infidelities breaking my heart.