He entered the room. She sat on the bed, taking off her earrings.
“What are you doing?” he asked with a strange look on his face.
“What does it seem like? Taking off my earrings. Honey, in case you didn’t notice, I do this every evening.” She said slightly amused.
She put the jewelry carefully in its case and put it back on the chest. When she turned around she found her husband sitting on the bed where she just sat some moments ago. He looks a bit sad or nostalgic; an absent stare on his polished black shoes. They just came back from the theater where they met some good old friends of them. It had been a pleasant evening and everybody seemed to enjoy the company of the other. So what was wrong with him?
“Darling… everything alright?” She approached him but he didn’t seem to hear her. She sat next to him and he lifts his eyes and looked to her waiting and at the same time worried face. Seeing this he was surprised and immediately smiled to comfort her. He laid his arm around her shoulder.
“You look beautiful tonight.” He mumbled into her hair. She smiled and squeezed his thigh. “Thank you, you do too.” And they both sat there for a moment or two like this lost in their thoughts. When she raised her head she saw again that strange sad look but this time in his eyes. “Will you tell me what worries you?” she asked very slowly and soft.
“Do you remember High School?” That was all he said. High School? Of course she remembered High School; she was a popular Cheerleader back then and she was grateful to be one because she paid college through a Cheerleader scholarship. She didn’t know something about her husband’s time at High School, he always avoided the topic and never spoke about it, not even when they first met in College. So what makes him think about High School right now and why does it sadden him that much? She answered with a short “Yes, of course” and waited for him to carry on.
He took his arm from her shoulder and folded his hands in his lap. “Right now, me too.” She waited. “I saw a guy tonight who used to be with me at High School. He was the one working at the cloak room.” She remembered the man; a tired grumpy unhappy looking man who seemed to have more than just that one job. She questioned herself what could have happened between her husband and that man back then. He went on “I never told you something about my High School time, did I?” –“No, as far as I can remember, you always avoided that topic.” It was quiet for another moment and then he said “High School was hell on earth for me. You can’t imagine what I went through back then. I was a geeky freak; everybody made fun out of me and did ugly things to me. It was the worst I’ve ever seen. And that man from the cloak room was one of my meanest enemies. He was our quarterback; the most popular guy at our High School. Till today I don’t know what his problem was but I was a shield for everything that went wrong in his life. I was laughed at or beaten up, glued to the toilet and much more. He was great while I was smaller than an ant. And tonight, I saw him, just like I was back then.” Here he paused. His wife sitting next to him had a tear in her eye, laid her head against his shoulder and rubbed his back. She couldn’t believe that this though great successful man beside her used to be a shy boy who acted as shield for other people’s emotions. He went on “Back then I used to think that one day, when I see him again, then it’ll be my turn to laugh at him, that he will be for once the smaller one. But seeing him the way he was tonight… I hadn’t had the feeling to laugh or whatever, I just felt pity and sorry for him. I don’t know what had happened to him but… I don’t know.” He stopped. She knew that all the memories from that time came up and that he couldn’t continue. She left him to think, held him in her arms. After some minutes he stood up. “You know, I forgave him and all the others long time ago. I thought that I will never ever see one of them again in my life. It was a bit of a shock seeing that once so popular man there taking my coat and calling me ‘sir’. I think I need to get over it; not everyone has the chance to be popular for a lifetime. I’m glad how I ended up and grateful for having you by my side. I should have told you my High School story way earlier, but I couldn’t. I tried to forget it and close the wounds. But now, once I remembered… yes, it did hurt, but I feel a bit more released.” He smiled and she knew that the worst was over. She smiled back and went to him to hug him.