It was always my secret.
No one else on this beautiful, round, planet ever knew it was there. Except perhaps the artist who gave it to me, but I doubt even he would remember. You would think I couldn’t hide such a secret. But I did.
The doctor came in, looking me straight in the eye. “It doesn’t look good.”
I only nod, my throat gone dry.
“Maybe three, four months. At most.”
There was a knock on the door. A pretty nurse’s assistant came in, trained to handle these conversations. The doctor gave me a firm handshake, then left. She rambled on about all the things I needed to hear, even though I couldn’t listen right then anyway.
Three months. Four months at most. And then I’d die and my secret would be exposed to the doctors stripping me and laying me on the cold table. My family would never know. My children. My wife. Not that I really cared if my wife knew. After all, wasn’t she supposed to have memorized every inch of me? But she never even saw it. Not once.
But my children? Did they need to know that I once loved so fiercely that I could never stop?
Suddenly, I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks. The nurse’s assistant squeezed my hand.
“Mr. Roberts, I know this is hard. This is the hardest thing you’ll ever face in your life. That’s why we’re here for you.”
I smiled at her, but I was shaking my head. I wasn’t crying for me. I was crying for the one I lost so many years ago. The thought of reuniting with her was more than I could bear. Would she recognize me? Love me still? Or would she have moved on? Would she be there to greet me, wherever there was?
She was the only one who knew my secret. Though, to her, it wasn’t a secret. It was a most sincere and everlasting proclamation of my love.