The (Self) Denial
Tom didn’t remember the drive home.
He didn’t remember walking in the door and he certainly didn’t remember going to sleep on the couch instead of upstairs in his bedroom.
He woke up the next morning with a feeling akin to that of a hangover; the feeling that he’d done something horrible but couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was. His brain seemed to have shutdown temporarily and the harder he tried to grasp at his thoughts, the more they slipped out of his reach.
“Sweetie, what are you doing down here? I didn’t even hear you come home last night.”
Tom’s wife’s voice made him jump and she reached out a hand to reassure him.
“Tom, is everything okay? You seem a little tense. What happened with Kevin?” she asked, her eyes searching his face for clues as to what was wrong.
Tom avoided eye contact; his eyes had always been the biggest giveaway as to how he was really feeling. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to look himself in the eyes when he needed to shave for work later on.
Work. That’s what he needed. Something to distract him would be the best way to deal with all of this.
“Tom,” his wife said again. “I asked you a question.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Um, yeah, I’m fine. Kevin was having some trouble with something at work and he wanted to talk about it.”
Tom heard the lie come out of his mouth and knew he’d be making a phone call to Kevin straight after this conversation to make sure he went along with the story. Kevin had been his best friend for years, he knew nearly everything about Tom and he wouldn’t demand any explanation as to why he needed an alibi.
His wife seemed satisfied with the answer because she went into the kitchen and started making breakfast.
“Do you want toast?” she called out to him.
“Um yeah, that’s fine,” he replied. “I’m just going to have a shower.”
As he turned on the water he hoped that he could wash away all his feelings. He couldn’t deal with them right now.
You can’t run away from how you feel, Tom, his subconscious whispered.
“Yes, I can!” he heard himself say out loud, but even then, he knew he was in denial.