Author’s Note: So, in thinking of Sunday Scribblings’ prompt of “resistant,” I thought about Violet’s struggles with her emotions, with what she fears and what she needs to know even if it is not what she wants to hear, and how she continues to resist the urge to give in and give up. I thought this fit it with that as well, since she keeps forcing herself to face what she wants to avoid.
“I… I am glad that you wanted to see me this morning,” Robert said, his throat tight as he did. He did not know how to fix what had happened yesterday, could not go back and lie to her, though he had considered it. If he told her that his story was not the same as the one her “husband” had told her, then she would not be so upset, but he could not do it. He could not lie about it. That was his story. He had not slept, not when his mind could not stop searching for the answer to why that man had stolen his name and stories from his childhood. He had tried to go through each and every boy he’d known when he was younger, but he knew of no one that resembled the photograph, nor did they look at all like him so as to pass for him to someone not well acquainted with him.
He did not understand, but he knew that he had to keep searching, and if he was going to do that, he hoped to have more assistance from her. The more he knew of what that other man had told her, the more he would have to narrow down all the possibilities. They had not yet heard from his father’s lawyer or anyone from his regiment—that would take time, time that he knew neither of them felt that they had.
She did not have much longer in her pregnancy, after all, and that would change things a great deal for her, for everyone.
“I am not so certain that you should be pleased,” Violet said, not looking up from her hands. She twisted them over her stomach, her voice betraying her anxiety as much as those small movements did. “I… I know I said that I did not want to know all the things that he had lied about, all that he had stolen from you, all those stories, but then I was thinking… I think I must know what was him and what was not. I need to know how much he stole from you as much as you do.”
“I… This will not be easy for you, and I do not want you to think that you have to. I should never have pushed you for so many details—”
“It would seem undeniable that he knows you somehow. If he does, if all we find agrees with that assumption, then you will be able to find him because you will have to know how he learned all these things of you. You will have to know.”
Robert frowned. “As much as I want to believe that, I have not been able to think of anyone near my age who would have been close enough to know these intimate details of my family—no friends, no relatives, and no neighbors. I cannot find any reason why a stranger would know these things, though.”
She let out a breath. “I suppose there are other possibilities. Perhaps it was a coincidence, since we did not discuss all the details of what you did to the beehive or what he did. Perhaps if you did tell that tale, then we might know whether or not it was something he learned of you or something he did or simply something he decided made a good story.”
“Very true,” Robert said, going over to kneel down next to her. “This is hurting you too much already. You do not have to do this.”
Her head lifted, and her eyes met his. “No, I do, because the other possibility… That is that you are lying, and I need to know that you are not.”
Robert cursed. She flinched when he did, and he sighed. “I am sorry. I should not have said that, but it is very unpleasant to have you voice those doubts again. I do not care for being mistrusted, especially since I am one of those who were wronged by this man. In some ways, he has stolen more from me than I had ever thought I could lose. I cannot say he wronged me more than he did you, but I did not… Hearing how many details of my life he used for himself is more… I have this strange fear that I am—what if I lose all that is me? What if those memories I thought were mine are not mine? Perhaps the war has had more of an effect on me than I thought it did. Perhaps I am the one who is—”
“I did not mean to make you start doubting yourself. You… He is the liar, not you.”
“How do you know that?”
She lowered her head. “I suppose I don’t, and the more I hear of what he did take from you, the more I know that I never knew him, but at the same time, Robbie… He took your stories and your memories… That is the part I thought I knew, the part I trusted, and while it is foolish, it is still what I believe. That boy with the beehive was a bit spoiled and foolish, but he is not a bad man.”
Robert placed his hand over hers. “I wish I felt worthy of that kind of sentiment.”
She closed her eyes. “The apples and the horses…”
“Stole a barrel from the kitchen, fed them as many as I could, but was caught because they rotted in my room.”
“Blueberry or apple? Oh, there was that thing with the strawberry one that—”
“I think I need you to stop again,” she said, wiping at her eyes. “Those… They are all your stories, not his, and I cannot stand to hear them from you right now. I’m sorry. I wish I was stronger, but I am not. I cannot do this.”
He nodded. He admired her for being willing to see him this morning, for talking about this as much as she had, even when it was clear that she did not want to. Truthfully, neither of them wanted to talk about it anymore. He did not want to lose more of his own identity, nor did he want to cause her further pain by taking all the memories she would have held onto, the “good” parts of her courtship and marriage before the man proved false.
“I will go. I do not have to come back—”
“No, we…” She drew a breath, rising, using the strength she didn’t think she had as she faced him. “We can try and talk again, it’s just… I will need more time.”
“Of course. You will have as much time as you need, I promise.”
She bit her lip, shaking her head. “A part of me wishes you were not so nice a man. It makes this that much harder.”
“Please excuse me, Mr. Winston. I do not feel well.”