A psychologist and his wife discuss human sexuality. Also, she has pried for details concerning one of his patients. Her worry concerns a shocking secret, which she only suspects, regarding that patient's marriage. However, her husband should not speak, bound by the confidential nature of his work.
Title: The Unspeakable's Wife
Intended Length: Short Story or Novella
Genre: Post-Modern Drama
Narrative Mode: First Person
Advised Rating: Semi-Mature (14+)
The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: expressions of sexuality, vulgarity, depictions of nudity, obscene behaviour and other mature themes.
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
Chapter 1, Scene 1: Better Than The Morning Tabloids
She sat across the table, from me, reading a large tome. It was a collection of re-printings, an old poetry magazine, The Chameleon. She had it open to December 1894. Two Loves by Lord Alfred Douglas. And as I spooned another mouthful of moistened, crunchy cereal into my mouth, she read the end of it aloud. The narrator had observed two emotionally symbolic youth, and was torn between them - confronted.
"I fell a-weeping, and I cried, 'Sweet youth,
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove
These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth
What is thy name?' He said, 'My name is Love.'
Then straight the first did turn himself to me
And cried, 'He lieth, for his name is Shame,
But I am Love, and I was wont to be
Alone in this fair garden, till he came
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.'
Then sighing, said the other, 'Have thy will,
I am the love that dare not speak its name'."
"That's what Oscar Wilde quoted at his trial, a year later. Charged with sodomy and indecency," I added. We both knew the euphemism. Love that dare not speak its name.
We'd been married so long that we were thinking the same thing. She looked at me. "There's a blurb in here about that, too."
"Oh?" We made eye contact as I spooned the last few flakes of cereal into my mouth. However, she was talking about more than just homosexuality. She was talking about his trial.
"The 'Love that dare not speak its name' in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man," she recited, quoting the trial with an awkward tone, "As there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare."
I spat out my orange juice, for she had laughed as if what she was reading was pure and utter nonsense. And it was my turn to frown, now. It was my job. My profession.
"It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are." She looked at me coyly.
"Go on," I requested.
"It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as the 'Love that dare not speak its name,' and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it," she was deeply focused and unsettled by the quotation, I could see it. That nervous biting of her inner cheek when she pauses.
I sipped my coffee, watching her intently. Her soft brown hair framed her face beautifully. And she had that vibrant glow pregnant women get.
"It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, - oh, Kyle, this is disgusting - when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamor of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it."
"I don't think you understand human sexuality at all," I said openly.
My wife looked at me, mouth hanging low. "I beg your pardon, dear?"
"Who was it? I bet someone told you, as a young girl, that it was wrong. Maybe a priest or your father?"
"Hey, now, don't bring your work home with you. Save it for after I drop you off," she chided.
"Helen, take this seriously. Please."
She smiled, "Alright. If I must." After a brief pause, "With women, I can understand it. Some men are just too insensitive. The chauvinism. The oppression. We're an oppressed majority. But - men? I mean, sodomy? It's just so crude."
"Crude is relative," I said. "Love is love, and it always serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things."
"What are you gonna relate this to both evolution and God now?"
I grinned. "Maybe."
"Undertones of pedophilia. Yuck."
"No, undertones of ephebophilia. Legal in this day and age."
Helen pushed the book away, and slid a plate from across the table into its place. And she began to serve herself some of last night's leftover spaghetti.
I do not like it when my chair at the kitchen table starts to feel like my chair at work. At all. And who was I to try and dissipate by wife's discriminations? Usually, she knew better than to ask about my work. And usually, I knew better than to tell her about it.
Chapter 1, Scene 2: Credentials In Jeopardy
My office was tidy, clean and cliché. The comfortable, empowering swivel chair was for me. It was alongside the reclined therapy couch, all one flat slab with no arm rests. And the walls were decorated with abstract art devoid of any obvious Freudian symbolism.
My name is Kyle Andrews. I am a therapist, specializing in various issues concerning human sexuality.
The woman lying on her back on the cushioned slab of furniture beside me is what my colleagues and I have dubbed The Unspeakable's Wife. However, that is sometimes what my heterosexual male colleagues and I call our own wives, provided we actually adhere to patient-therapist confidentiality. That, however, is an entirely different kind of unspeakability.
And I asked those seven magic words I ask so often, "And how does that make you feel?"
She stared up at the ceiling, "Trusted, I guess?" Turning to me for confirmation, she got silence as I looked down at my notepad. "I love him. And he loves me. I trust him to do his best to keep it under control. I keep his secret. But there's something else, Doctor Andrews."
"I think word got out on our street. When I took out the garbage this morning, Linda and Helen were talking in hushed voices. Looking at me strangely. Doc', I don't want to have to move again. Mick and I have had it rough."
"A healthy dose of paranoia is common enough, for someone in your position. But aren't you taking things a bit too seriously?"
"No. I'm not." She turned to me defensively.
"Did you discuss his ephebophilia or homosexuality with anyone other than me, Jennifer?"
"No, Doc'. And I want to ask you the same question!"
And now it was my turn to stare at the ceiling. Linda, Helen, hushed voices. Helen!? Oh, no!