Thought I Knew You(10)

By: Kate Moretti

I nodded again, frustrated at his careful pace. “Yes.”

“I need to understand the state of your marriage.”

Even though he had warned me, I was surprised at the candid statement, the abruptness of it. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes, thinking about how to put into words what I avoided thinking about. How did I explain? We were like ships passing in the night. He went about his day, I went about mine, and if our days overlapped and we connected, great. But in the past three months, more often than not, we hadn’t.

“Greg and I have a marriage. We have highs and lows, but we don’t fight regularly.” I paused, searching for words. “But we don’t really… talk regularly either.”

“Is this a recent development?”

“He was up late at night. Working, he said, and sometimes I would hear him on the phone. When I pressed him on it, he got frustrated, frequently telling me not to worry about it. I needed to understand him. He needed me to not need that.” I stopped, staring at my hands, which were clenched in my lap. I took a deep breath, consciously relaxing them. “I don’t even know if everything I’m saying is making sense.”

Matt smiled. He had a kind smile and soft green eyes. I could see why he had become a detective. I instinctively wanted to tell him everything about my life, and I was quite sure he took a lot of confessions. I would have bet even hardened criminals trusted him.

“I understand, Claire. I was married once. It sounds familiar. It also doesn’t sound unusual. I think most marriages have these times, and more often than not, they pass. Do you think things will get better, or do you have a sense of your marriage ending?”

“No, we’ll pull out of it,” I said quickly, trying to convince the detective. And myself. “A few years ago, Greg had a friend who passed away. He became reclusive and moody. The only people who could reach him were the girls. I realized that’s how Greg deals with complicated, emotional situations. I think there’s something similar going on because his behavior lately has been the same. But this time, the reason behind it is a mystery to me. It’s been this way for close to a year, off and on, with the worst being the last four months or so. I expect to eventually know the reason behind his self–imposed exile. I was trying, but…”

Matt nodded.

Taking the gesture for encouragement, I continued. “I’d become impatient lately, pushing him, wanting to know what was in his head. I became insecure, needy. Did he still love me? I’m sure that pushed him further into himself. But I couldn’t see that at the time. I can see it a little more clearly now.”

Matt glanced down at his notebook. “Would Greg hurt himself?”

The question seemed preposterous. “No. I know I’ve admitted I don’t know my husband very well right now, that there’s something going on with him that I can’t figure out. However, I know him deep down, the person that he is, fundamentally. He’s the most stable, emotionally secure person I’ve ever met. When he has something difficult to deal with, he does withdraw. But he deals with it. That’s the difference. Suicidal people aren’t able to deal with their difficulties. In addition, he adores his kids. He would never, ever do that to them.”

Matt nodded. “Tell me about Greg the father.”

I relaxed into the chair, crossing my legs. An easy one. “Greg is the most hands-on father I know. He knows the girls inside and out. Hannah was colicky as a baby. She cried all the time, and only Greg could calm her. He’s more patient than me. He’s more fun than I am. When he takes the girls out for the day—which is one day a week, at least—he’s completely focused on them. They go to the park, have a picnic in the yard, or play outside with a ball for hours. His relationship with them is completely different from mine. I’m always doing a million things at once, and the girls have to fit into my life. He makes the girls the focus of his day, and all the other tasks fit in around them. To that extent, he’s a better parent than I am.”

“Do you believe Greg could be having an affair?”

The question hit me hard. There was a difference between knowing the police were speculating and having one of them ask me outright. I wanted to answer him steadily and unemotionally. I studied the arm of Greg’s chair, an old plaid recliner from eons ago, pilled from years of use, and resisted the urge to lean over and bury my face in the fabric. I imagined Greg sitting there, the gentle dip in the arm of the chair where he’d hold the television remote and mindlessly change the channels. I could faintly smell the remnants of his cologne, tiny pieces of Greg interwoven in the threads.

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