L is the next letter in the 26 short stories of 250 words or fewer about Alice’s life and times.
L is for Lies
Lying is not always wrong but it can be misleading when used to alleviate others’ concerns. Ruth was so accustomed to fielding questions about Daniel that she didn’t even have to think before she trotted out the well-worn phrases. ‘He’s fine,’ was her usual response to friends’ inquiries. To more searching questions she replied, ‘I think he’s improving,’ or ‘He’s much happier.’
Faced with her challenging gaze anyone doubting her veracity kept their qualms to themselves. Only Alice knew the truth. Ever since John and Ivy’s Ruby Wedding Anniversary Ruth had trusted her.
Every day Ruth withstood a barrage of physical and verbal abuse. Daniel didn’t care that Alice was in the room when he set about his wife. She saw the strain on Ruth’s face and knew that matters were far worse when she wasn’t present. He controlled himself when his parents visited but as soon as they left he got up on his artificial legs and started again, screaming, throwing things at her, punching her where it wouldn’t show. After each attack he ended up sobbing and apologising.
Alice told Ruth to seek help but Ruth refused. ‘I love him,’ she said. ‘He loves me. He’s suffering.’
Alice was frightened by Daniel’s mental deterioration and feared for Ruth’s life. Reluctantly she broke Ruth’s confidence and told her father. He contacted the doctor who took charge. Ruth was incensed; thereafter there was coldness in her manner towards Alice but Alice knew she had done the right thing.