We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
(This is a followup to the story begun here.)
When I invited everyone out to Grammy’s cabin, I thought it would be fun–a way to shed the baggage of the last few months. But you can’t undo the past. It clings like cobwebs I can’t shake loose, despite the laughter, despite the music echoing around the cave, despite the free-flowing beer.
I look at the circle of my friends lounging against rock walls. We all own secrets we’re desperate to conceal. It’s amazing, how much I see in the flickering shadows of this cave I’ve known since childhood. The way Hanna casts furtive, speculative glances at Kresta, who’s dancing hip to hip with Jon. The skeletal thinness of Geena’s wrist protruding from the heavy sweater that can’t keep away her shivers, even as the rest of us fan ourselves in the heat of the fire. Eric’s bloodshot eyes and constant sniffling.
I wonder how Zin’s doing with Grammy. I feel bad. She thinks I planned this, to keep her away from Ned. How little she knows.
“C’mon, Dee, let’s dance!” The music nearly drowns out Chad’s voice–the very limestone seems to shake–as he pulls me to my feet. He swings me round and pulls me in, and I lean into his warmth, fling my head back, let the music and the sensation take me. All I want is to be part of something safe and whole and complete, even if it only lasts a few fleeting moments.
I can feel Ned’s eyes on me. He unfolds his long limbs and ducks under a low-hanging rock to grab my arm. “Don’t do this again, Dee,” he says in my ear, too low for other ears to hear. “You know he’s only after one thing.”
The raw place in my soul breaks open again, throbs physically in the wounded place where my secret was ripped from me, and suddenly all the world is a great, gaping emptiness.
“C’mon, guys,” I yell. “Let’s go back up to the house.”
The chorus of complaints is good-natured. Maybe, like me, they sense that in the darkness of this cave, all our secrets will betray us. Mine seems to hover in the treetops. I could swear I hear her name flying over my head a dozen times before we reach high ground.
At last, the trees break around the cabin, and in the dim light from the bare bulb on the porch, I see Grammy and Zin huddled together. Zin looks up, her eyes aglow with a fierce, protective, and hisses: “Quiet! She’s sleeping!”
When I see the newborn baby in her arms, the earth shifts beneath me, and I realize: no secret stays hidden forever.
I love all the little details that betray the secrets people are trying to keep — really well done. And the ending is perfect!
Secrets galore here! I’m intrigued as to where this goes since it seems everyone has secrets that are intersecting in this scene.
One small concrit: This sentence needs to be tweaked a little as it doesn’t seem to read right to me:
Zin looks up, her eyes aglow with a fierce, protective, and hisses: “Quiet! She’s sleeping!”
Aha, yes, that was where I got interrupted yesterday, and then I only had half an hour to put everything on the web this morning…missed that incompleteness!
oooh lots going on here with a a lot of characters. and i like it! 🙂
Oh wow. I love seeing this play from the other side. What a painful secret to hold and threaten to expose. Well done!
Oooo! Drama and intrigue! Love it.
As always, beautiful writing, Kate…
This sent shivers down my back and i want to read more!
really vivid imagery – the secrets not entirely hidden by shadow and firelight… very eerie
Hi Kathleen, I am new to your writings but ran across this one and just had to keep reading. I loved it, not sure how to describe it but mysterious comes to mind, subtle and sort of obvious at the same time. Interesting combination.. well done.