On one occasion, my wife wondered aloud whether a man's heart and a woman't heart could never truly join together as one. I answered vaguely that perhaps, in the case of young lovers, it was possible. She seemed to be reflecting on her past. Finally, she allowed from her lips the faintest of sighs.
Starting in those days, a dreadful shadow would sometimes flicker across my breast. At first it was something external, assailing me from without. It caught me off guard. It horrified me. However, with the passing of time my heart grew to accept these flickers of dread. In the end, I came to regard them as part of myself, with me from the moment of my birth and dormant till now in the depths of my soul. This feeling, whenever it struck, made me wonder if I wasn't losing my mind. I had no intention, though, of having my head checked. Neither by a doctor, nor by anyone else.
I felt profoundly the flaws of humankind. It was this feeling that led me monthly to K's grave. It was this feeling too that compelled me to care so for my wife's ailing mother. And it was this feeling that commanded me to approach my wife wth tenderness. Because of this feeling, there were even moments I wished for passers by, people unknown to me, to take up the whip and scourge me. As my thoughts progressed further, I felt that it was I, not others, who should take up the whip and scourge myself. Next came the notion that scourging would never do. I had to destroy myself. Having no other recourse, I resolved going forward to live as though I were dead.
How many years have passed since that time. My wife and I have continued on quietly together. By no measure have we been unhappy. We've found our contentment. However, this one part of me, the one part I can never change, has always darkened her world. When I think on this, I can't help but feel I've wronged her.