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Charlotte Buchanan, 16 Dec '12

Apparently, Rob, my lover, kept a diary. Apparently, it was marked with instructions to be destroyed, unread, in the event of his death. Well, that was all well and good...but I felt it didn't really stand up considering he had already told as many secrets to me as he had to his diary.

Now, the first time he upset me, I didn't do anything. It was a serious business, too - it was before he met his wife and I, away in London, left him exposed for a friend to seduce. After that, nothing could ever hurt me as much again. That was the time to have really made him pay. But I left the chance, hanging there, and even went back to him a year later. It was fun for a while: I adored him for how creative he was and how good in bed, he loved my hair and my twisted sense of humour. But one day:

"And-how-are-you- well-I'm-fine-thank-you-for-asking."
"What?"
"Come on. Like you ever ask. Do you even care? Are you paying by the hour or something?"
"Course not. And I do ask."
"Hm?" (very sarcastic)

The fight wasn't nearly as serious as the previous one but the old anger, I found, had been lying dormant ever since. Now it surfaced once more. A little text later was all that was needed, just for Rob from his favourite secret. "How often does your wife check her email," I asked. I never really sent anything to her, I never even said I had. Just an innocent little question from nasty little me. Poor bairn, he bricked it for an hour before I told him he was safe. Once we'd spoken, though, I felt awful. Maybe it was because he was angry with me , maybe it was genuine remorse. Anyway, we made it up and carried on meeting in hotel rooms and even - once or twice - at his house.

But my veiled threat was still there. Six months later, I did it again. We had one of those messy arguments about one sidedness - one sided desire, one sided feelings. Probably not true - I'm old enough to know that feelings are usually mutual - but he said those things to me and gave me pain. Last time, I'd pretended I'd denounced him to his wife. I could do that again. Even if he thought I'd never actually tell her....

I was sitting on the end of the hotel bed, fully dressed.
" I might tell your wife, you know," I said.
"That again?"
"It's not difficult - I know where she lives, after all. "
He went quiet; looked frightened; did up his trousers again.

One dark winter day I decided I was sick of all this. My life was moving on and I was tired of sneaking around. No more sex with someone I no longer lusted after, please! I suppose I did this out of fear, really, or false bravado or something else insincere like that, but, instead of going to meet him, I sent a letter to his wife. Told her all about her husband playing away, how long for and even named some hotels. It seemed to mean less on paper - more like notes for a theatre review; all this secrecy had become nothing at all.

He called me when I didn't turn up.
"Sorry," I said. "I was writing a letter."
"Oh - something important?"
"Your wife should get it tomorrow."
I heard him sigh. He didnt believe me.
"Anyway, look, there isn't time now, is there? Maybe next week, yeah?"

But that was the last time we spoke. It turned out I wasn't the only secret in Rob's diary. A week later, I had a visit from the police. His wife was a paranoid schizophrenic. When I thought she was away, she was actually in hospital. When she read the letter, she killed him with the carving knife.

Comments · 6

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  • Mary Beth W. said...

    I love the unexpected twist at the end! :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Charlotte Buchanan said...

    Hi, @Mary Beth W. (high time?!) - I couldn't let her get away with crying wolf, could I? Thanks for reading. :-)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Jamie Thomas said...

    This is amazing. Like, wow. I won't get all technical, all I can say is that the twist at the end hit me, and it hit me hard! Very effective!

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Charlotte Buchanan said...

    @Jamie Thomas - go on, sweetie, get all technical; just for me, hm? Very glad you got something out of this and hope the blow from the twisty hitty thing didn't do too much damage. All the best to you :-)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Jamie Thomas said...

    @Charlotte Buchanan By technical I meant like describing all the things that made it perfect on a technical level, like the building if tension, the way you created that characters with quite a bit of depth even though you barely went into much detail. I especially loved the underlying theme of malice that ran through the mistresses thoughts, which was never quite evil but never completely justified. And the twist ending, wow. I read it as the mistress maybe not caring about the death, but also it could have been that she was in shock. Then lastly, the underlying theme of us not really knowing everything about people, "the secret lives of people" is a favourite saying of mine and it often applies even to those we are most intimate with. The man lied to both his wife and mistress, and the mistress kept lying to him when she teased him. This, along with the idea of the diary made me think of the theme of lies and secrets being very prevalent in our lives. I probably went completely astray here, and you may have intended nothing I have written about but even if you didn't, it still is a wonderful piece.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Charlotte Buchanan said...

    @Jamie Thomas Thank you for sharing all that - it is really helpful to know that the things I set out to do with this proved to be successful! I had more to say but it was too long to post. Background reading (forgive the pomposity of short hand!) : The Gift by the Velvet Underground and the Sphinx without a Secret by Oscar wilde.

    • Posted 6 years ago