The First Time (story by Rachel Lister)

They say nothing prepares you and they’re right. It’s changed me profoundly. Opened my eyes, without question.’

I know what you mean.’ My husband’s voice. ‘I’m more invested in the future now. Things that didn’t bother me before, they sure do now. Like the environment and … the women’s rights stuff. It’s like I’m seeing everything for the first time.’

Me too.’

It’s rare that eavesdropping yields such a frisson of vindication, so I savor it while I can. But your words have raised some pesky questions. If the arrival of our daughter has cured your myopia, that’s great. But just what kind of world did you think you were looking at before? And all the nods and smiles that you offered over the years. Were just placatory gestures, masquerading as accord?

As I watch you toasting your new outlook, I feel like I am seeing my husband for the first time.

Now you are advancing toward me, poised to deliver your bombshell in the form of good news. I steel myself for a smile. For if you have been pretending all these years, then surely it’s only right that I return the favor?

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