Stone Walls

The people who settled this small New England town pulled stones from the fields and placed them at the edge of their property creating walls that marked the limits of their existence.  Hundreds of years later lichen covered Yankee stone walls crisscross the fields and disappear into the woods marking long forgotten boundaries. We drive our mini-van in silence past the pumpkin colored village colonial, past Oak Hill cemetery bordered by a crumbling stone wall and turn into the Wal-Mart parking lot.  When I turn off the ignition, my wife’s question pierces the heavy silence “I just have to ask you something.  Are you gay?”

There should only be one response to that question, but I cannot seem to give it. The air in the van is too heavy.  I look out of the car window and see a family of four open their car doors, take each other’s hands and quickly walk across the pavement towards the store.  They disappear into the dark and then re-appear briefly under a circle illuminated by a parking lot light. Their questions are no doubt easier to ask and to answer.  Do we need more paper towels? How much milk is left?
She waits for the answer. Doesn’t she already know it? 

After all these years the answer has always been there but I kept it cordoned off.  I built my life on No.  That life was crumbling now and I couldn’t support it anymore.  I search for an answer that is truthful, but one that won’t risk bringing all of the walls down. “I don’t want to be,” I reply quietly, hesitatingly, trying to measure the damage the answer will bring.
For a moment, the world stops turning and we stop breathing; silence. I exhale as she inhales.  “Oh God” she whispers and looks out of the car window.

In the background I hear the distant hum of cars on the interstate travelling through the darkness. And then a lightness pulls me up and pushes me onto the highway. I’m following the cars at a speed faster than light and suddenly I’m shooting up into space.  The town recedes into the distance and the sun crests on the horizon.
If we joined the other families in the store that night I can’t remember it.  What I do remember is both of us lying in bed in the still darkness. We were no longer living in the thin margin of what was before, but clinging to each other at the threshold of what lay beyond our existence.   Uncertain of what life looked like outside of the walls we had built and unable to return to the space they once contained.

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