This madness with Julian simply continues to get madder. I felt a desperate need to go to church this morning, which was about the worst thing I could do, though I couldn’t have known it at the time. Today’s readings were all about God the creator, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, all that. Not exactly cheery. Revelation is so oddly mystic anyway – very High Church if anything, not my taste at all. Not that religion should be completely straightforward, but the image of the New Jerusalem coming down from the clouds like a bride adorned for her husband is hardly compatible with Christ feeding the 5,000. In any case, church was really a stand in for family. I didn’t bother taking communion; I was there for family. And that was all well and good until Gracie noted I looked awful and pulled me out for a walk in the Gardens so we could talk.
And like a fool, I finally told her the whole truth. Needless to say, she was not happy. She won’t abandon me, but she’s terribly cross that I’ve done “tawdry” things and then told Sam before I told her. She understands the conflict that’s eating at me, and she says David would say I’m being an idiot, and I know she’s right, and that’s the whole reason I told her anything at all, but I still feel awful for having betrayed her. Because she’s right – she, of anyone, deserved to know. But she was too young ten years ago, when I came to understand the madness I would have to live, for me to say anything then. I introduced her to David because I wanted her to know, but I still said nothing specific. Of course she knew I was in love with him – she’s never been a fool – but until I told her today, she didn’t understand it was mutual or just how far these things can go.
This will be a blight on our relationship forever. I already imagine getting a lecture from Sam on how women can’t have this sort of thing sprung on them or else appalled that I didn’t have the decency to tell her before the funeral. She came to the funeral, she and Sam, so I wouldn’t be the only Christian. And I repay her by shutting her out of the truth for a further two years. What kind of brother am I? Did I really think she would go to Sam and tell him to have me arrested? Of course not. But I thought she’d rather not speak to me again, and I couldn’t bear to lose my family. Just knowing they are there and I can go home has been enough to keep me going some days. I don’t know what I would have done with my life had I been separated from their love forever.
And now I may have done that anyway, not with the truth, but by withholding the truth. And yet, when she had calmed down a bit, encouraged me to tell her what was really troubling me, and spoke with the common sense I knew I could count on from her, in those moments everything was just as it had always been and just what I needed. I know, in my heart, that I am not in love with Julian Howard, that I care for him but that his disappearance from my life would be a momentary disappointment rather than utter heartbreak, so all I can do is accept that I made a pledge to him, screw my courage to the sticking place, and explain the whole thing to Tamara. Which I don’t look forward to. But I’ve already done it – first thing I did when I came home was write her a note to invite her to tea on Tuesday or Wednesday, whichever night she has off. It’s lurking in the postbox as I write this, waiting for the morning mail.
I’ve been such a fool. I hope Gracie can forgive me, and yet, if I were in her place, I don’t know how she can.