The Blue Valleys – A Collection of Stories, by Robert Morgan – 1989 (Lisa Lytton-Smith)

Lorna had never understood the sharpness of her tongue.

It was a habit she had developed as a teenager,
and it had grown on her over the years.

She did not realize how she sounded.

He thought of recording her on tape and then playing it back to her.

She would be astonished at the harshness in her voice,
at the belittling tone of her comments.

Shew knew how to be polite in public, and with her friends from church.

It was only with him, and with her sisters, that side of her came out.

But she was mostly a good woman,
though he had not meant to spend his life with her.

That was why he seemed so tolerant, why he almost never quarreled.

If he let himself go who knows what he would end up saying.

He might let it out that he had never wanted to marry her,
never wanted to be with her.

It would tear away whatever grace their life had had,
pull down the scaffold and show how badly fitted and supported they really were.

It would ruin her opinion and pride in herself.

His very lack of feeling for her had been the essence of his devotion and patience,
which so many friends had praised,
especially at the times when other friends had divorced.

– “Tailgunner“, by Robert Morgan