A Secret Kept

Gabby is a fairly ordinary woman in her mid to late-20s. The thing that sets her apart is that she has a secret. She is not telling, but that doesn't stop people from recognizing it. What secrets will she learn as people seek to learn hers? What secrets will she lose? Most of all, what is Gabby's secret?

The park was, for the most part, a fairly comfortable place. Some people cut through it on their way to somewhere else, others stopped. Some made it their constant destination. Children played on the playground equipment, mothers watched, teens and young adults skated and did their best to become scenery. A few office workers settled on benches for lunch. A man who was probably homeless wandered the paths, occasionally stopping to talk to one person or another.

In the midst of this sat Gabby. Upon first glance, especially a cursory one, there was nothing in particular that made Gabby stand out. Pretty in her own way, she had her own style, but it was not so different that it made people uncomfortable. She had a nice smile, and lovely eyes, but a cursory glance would not necessary catch that.

Those people who looked again though, or looked more closely, noticed something about her that made her stand out. Gabby had a secret. Of course, having a secret did not necessarily show. Many people had secrets, big or small, and nobody could ever tell. Gabby, however, was not able to hide this particular secret. It showed in the quirk of her lips, in something around her eyes. Like the Mona Lisa, the fact that Gabby possessed a secret was written on her face.

People noticed. Strangers found themselves wondering what it was that she was smiling about. People who knew her better wondered too.

Gabby said nothing, simply smiled as she sat on the park bench, eating her lunch.

Ben, who worked with Gabby, sat down next to her. It was not unexpected. They ate lunch together often enough. The conversation Ben intiated was equally expected, as things go.

"Okay, what's going on Gabby?" Ben popped open the styrofoam container that held his lunch - stirfry - and produced a fork from his pocket. His expectant look had Gabby blushing slightly, but she tried for a nonchalant shrug as he began to eat.

"Nothing's going on." She quickly took a bite of her sandwich, trying to forstall the discussion. Having a secret did not mean that she felt like sharing it. That was what made secrets no longer secret.

Ben gave her a sceptical look and speared a piece of broccoli and proceeded to gesture at her with said fork and vegetable. "I know you, Gabby. Something's up. You've got that look about you. So tell me."

"Nope." Gabby flashed an impish grin at Ben, and took another bite. Maybe he would take the hint, although Ben was not exactly known for that. He was rather tenacious, although rarely in a way that made her want to strangle him.

"Come on. Just tell me. I thought you didn't have secrets from me." He tried an old method, the guilt trip. It had worked on her in the past and he expected it to work again. He was disappointed.

Gabby simply looked at him, raised her eyebrows, and offered a placid smile. "If I told you then it wouldn't be much of a secret, would it?"

A glare was Ben's response, and he huffed a little as he took another bite of his food. "That isn't fair. What is it? I won't tell anyone, you know that. At least tell me if it is about you, or if it is about someone else? Did you find out something about someone at work?"

Ben was human. The idea that someone else had a secret set his curiosity into overdrive. It also fired his imagination. He began to contemplate all the things this secret could be. Gabby had a new boyfriend. That one made him feel like scowling, a fact he chose to ignore. That wasn't it. She would just tell him. She was getting a new place. No, she liked where she lived. She was getting promoted. He was getting promoted. Their boss was leaving. Someone was pregnant. Someone was getting married. Someone was leaving.

All these possibilities ran through his mind. It was obviously a good secret, something she enjoyed knowing. It couldn't be that someone was ill or anything like that. What if she had found out something that would let her get back at someone? There were enough nasty people at work, enough people he knew he wouldn't mind knowing a dirty little secret of. Gabby was nice, but was she so nice she wouldn't use something like that?

Letting out a sigh of disgust, Ben looked at Gabby. "Fine. Be that way. You don't have to tell me, just because I am your friend. I can't force you to." He was right, of course. He couldn't force her to tell.

Gabby just beamed at him and went back to eating her lunch, enjoying the world around her. It was very much a beautiful day.

That this particular encounter was going to foreshadow less pleasant encounters and all the trouble that could come from clearly having a secret did not occur to Gabby. If she had, she still might not have told Ben. Perhaps she would have. It is hard to say what would have happened, how things might have gone differently. Suffice it to say that others were going to spot the signs of Gabby's possession of a secret, and they too would find themselves wanting to know what it was.

The End

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