It seemed preposterous that we had come this far, physically and figuratively in our lives to let it all end there and then in those foothills. I always thought that if something like this would happen, it would happen in Spring, preferably somewhere warm that served coffee. Not halfway up a wet mountain on my birthday.
I don’t even remember what we argued about. Like many arguments between couples they seemingly appear out of nowhere, erupting in savage resentment until one half is spitting hot air and casting molten words at the other. And the only respectable thing the victim can do is perpetuate the situation and blow some hotter air back. And so it carries on until one partner gets tired of trying to win.
‘Why bring this up again?’ she says.
My grasp of the current predicament was vague at best. All I had was a niggling feeling that the argument from the car was incomplete. A serious argument between a loving couple should last at least into the night, if not through to the morning after. A marriage, in my experience, is not proper marriage until you’ve had some serious pre-coital argument and slept on the edges of the bed afterwards. The truth is I didn’t know why I brought it up again. But I wasn’t going to tell Emma that.
‘You know full well why.’ I say. I pull up the backpack and storm ahead but the guilt drags me back.
‘No I don’t.’ she says ‘Please, why don’t you enlighten me!’
‘Really?’ I say. I turn around and look at her. But at this altitude, her face lit by the autumn sun as the mist plays in her hair, she looks sublime. I find myself staring at the woman I loved and married and feel the resentment tumble away.
She pauses and stares out across the undulating peaks and valleys.
‘Look at that. Isn’t nature strange and unpredictable?’ she says as if nothing had happened.
That’s a skill I would envy in her for many years to come. Emma’s seeming ability to forgive and forget my foolishness in a heartbeat, a foolishness I sometimes struggled to forgive myself the next day.
‘I guess’ I say.
‘Come on.’ she says, ‘Let’s not fight. We’re all the way up here on our own. It’s your birthday. Look how beautiful it is. We should be celebrating not fighting. Is this how you want to remember it?’
She was right. Life’s too short to spend it fighting the one you love and who loves you back even more.
‘It’s how I remember the others.’ I say.
Sometimes honesty is not the best policy. Sometimes you just need to swallow the pride no matter how difficult it is or how bitter it tastes.
This is the part they leave out in the vows: ‘I promise to always be right even when I know I’m wrong.’ and ‘I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful reason for an argument but I will try my best to find one.’
Somethings you just learn the hard way I guess.
‘That’s beside the point!’ she says. She hitches up her bag and storms ahead.
And so it continued up the mountain, over the peak, down the other side, and throughout the awkward journey home. Moments of steaming resentment punctuated by tiny incidences of calm clarity.
That night when she finally gave up trying to win, although she maintains I gave up first, we made up in a moment of heated passion before dividing and falling asleep at the edges. In the morning, we looked sheepishly across the expanse of unruffled duvet between us, and knew that it was best not to remember whatever it was that drove us apart and to just meet in the middle.
© 2016 Occasional Dreams
In response to daily prompt: Argument