Competing with a Ghost
She had met him long after he had left the ICC, unable to deal with the losses they kept experiencing. She had seen him for the first time in the cafe near her house and he had caught her eye right away. He always sat by himself, watching people. They had sent glances to each other from their seats a couple of times. She had been the one to make the first move, already knowing he would never initiate. But she had hope. It took her four times to get him to agree to a cup of coffee together. Coffee turned into dates. Dates into spending nights together. Nights together turned into moving in. After almost two years he got down on one knee and proposed to her. After another year they were blessed with a beautiful, healthy son. Their lives were filled with years of happiness, but there was always something that made her wonder.
She had known almost right from the start that there was something about her husband. He was the kindest man and the best father she knew. She could watch him all day, playing with their son. Her heart always fluttered when she heard both of them laughing so loud. She loved watching him as he was waking up. He would blink several times and then turn to her, with the sweetest smile on his face.
But there were days the smile never truly reached his eyes. There was always a hint of hurt in them. Those days she would catch him drifting off into thoughts, his memories. Those were the days even their son’s smile wouldn’t cheer him up. He would break down in the shower, when he thought she couldn’t hear him. All she could do was stand by the door and listen to her husband sobbing. She wished she could take the hurt away and make him only feel happiness. Only it would stay a wish forever. Her husband had learned to live with it. Though she wouldn’t dare to say that he had moved on from it all. She knew she would never be able to ask that of him, for She would always be a part of their family, or she would lose her husband.
She had seen Her once. In a picture that her husband kept hidden from her. It was a picture of them together, smiling and in an embrace. His eyes had grabbed her right away and she kept staring at them. They contained a smile like she had never on him before. With her he had never smiled like that.
She knew about the woman and the history between Her and her husband. She had been his team member and best friend (and she suspected that She had been much more) who had been killed years ago. Her husband felt like he had failed Her. That he could have prevented her death. Or that was what one of his friends had told her one day, when she had finally gathered the courage to ask. She also knew they had never caught the one who murdered Her.
Her husband had mentioned her from time to time, always with a hint of sadness in his voice.
She loved her husband and she knew he loved her as well. But there was always this one spot in his heart that she knew she could never take. That spot was for Her. She would always compete with this imagine of a woman she never knew.
She could look at her husband all day. Admiring him as he was playing with their son. She loved hearing their son laugh as her husband threw him high up in the air - even though it scared her each time he did that. She loved her husband and she knew he loved her. But never as much as Her. She was always competing with this image of a woman she never knew.
‘They found him,’ her husband told her one afternoon after a short phone call from his friends. She knew what it meant and what it would mean for their family. He was looking at her, like she had all the answers. And she knew that for him she had the most important answer of them all. He stood in front of her and she couldn’t help but wonder about the what ifs. He knew about her insecurities and doubts.
‘Go,’ she told then him firmly. He looked at her questioningly and she gave him a nod. She meant it. He had to go and deal with this. With his team, like they used to do. Maybe that was the only way she could get her husband back.