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The Wall Between Us

by Sheena Fabunan

On the night before Christmas, I prayed in this home, wishing to God that I wasn’t alone.
Mary sadly smiled at the man she loves.

Despite the significant time that passed, this smile was no different from the one she gave him on Christmas day some two years ago when he finally decided to leave the family. The smile was every bit as painful and searing, feeling like a foreign entity on her face. Time has not begun its healing process just yet.
It was actually one of the regrettable things in the world for Mary. In certain times when she would linger in a dreamy limbo, her thoughts would sometimes solidify into a piercing moment of clarity. She eventually came to realize that some events needed to occur in a certain way, and most of the time, fate’s way included plenty of misery and pain. And there isn’t a lot one can do about that, except endure and hope that time would eventually make it less painful. But until now, nothing has even remotely begun to fill the large gaping hole he left in her life.

“Hey,” she said in cheerful tone while forcing a smile, “How’s your Christmas going?”

And just the same, Joseph smiled as he gazed at her. The real expression in his eyes emitted some form of unreadable detachment. Mary couldn’t see, but there was a plethora of sadness brewing just beneath the surface of his face. He made sure it stayed that way.

He knew he chose to leave her, but still, every meeting brought with it searing pain that he knew slowly tore out her heart. It was still too real and painful no matter how many days had gone by. He knew it hurt her far too much than she was willing to admit. He also knew that despite the pain he caused her, she still hoped that he wasn’t suffering too.

“Alright, the weather’s a bit rough on me,” he said chuckling, “How are the kids?” He felt miserably terrible for leaving them all.

“They miss you,” she said plainly.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. She wondered why he didn’t reciprocate her statement. Their conversation won’t last for very long now. It was too strained but both wanted the same thing, “Take care of them,” he said, biting the urge to tell his wife that he wanted to come home and that he misses his children more than anything in this world.

“Yes. You take care too,” she responded.

He knew that some things have to keep moving. It’s important to keep up with the times, know what you need and work hard to get that. Set priorities; put what you want aside to make way for better things. And to get somewhere with all of these, big sacrifices have to be made.

“I miss you a lot,” she said. Her eyes finally let the tears escape. She touched the computer screen bearing his face with one pale hand as he did the same thing on his side of the world. For the past two years, this served as their only mode of communication. Working overseas involved too many hours and adjustments, but it brought home the money they needed to secure a future for their children. He said he will lift them out of their debts and out of poverty, but this is just one of the costs of the deal. He gave a sad, lonely smile.
“I miss you too,” he finally said, knowing he meant every single word. His work has not been kind to him, but he wasn’t about to tell her that. They both kept things from each other now, trying not to worry the other side. They’re both realizing that they are slowly losing their connection because of the secrecies that come with caring about someone; but, they couldn’t bring themselves to talk about the subject when they’re both struggling to stay alive.

They could still fix this, but it wouldn’t be soon. They both said their heartfelt ‘I Love You’s’ to each other, knowing deep inside that there was nothing much they could do about the two hearts that are breaking on Christmas Day.


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