"Almost" Part 32: Book 3, Part 3

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Chapter 92

Ruth was not by nature a confrontational person, and she agonized over her decision to confront her husband for over a week. It was, for her – and quite literally – the worst thing in the world. Something about demanding something from him – enforcing her will – made her feel as if she were hanging from a frayed rope over an endless chasm.

And what was worse, the events at Munich – which she followed daily in the newspaper – were forcing her to act, and act now. The endless excuses of procrastination were being overshadowed by the need to do something now, immediately, before the time was lost. It’s now or never, she kept thinking, and ruminated for a long time on the last word… Because the ‘never’ has already been happening for twenty years. The ‘never’ is not in the future, but was in the past…

Every time she made a decision, or fixed a time, she shied away. The confrontation and herself were like opposing magnets. The more effort she put into bringing them together, the more they seemed to fly apart.

Her attitude wasn’t helping. After enough time, even badly-married couples can hide very little from each other. She was nervous, and prone to outbursts, headaches, and speaking out of turn. It seemed impossible to confront him. She must confront him.

It had a lot to do with Tom. Ruth knew, in her heart, that she would not see him unless she acted. Oh, she might see him at family functions – or even have the odd, stiff lunch – but it would never be the same again. Never be as it once was. When he was her secret, lovely heart. But it was more than that. It was about much more than Tom. I want to exist before I die, she thought.

But Quentin was always busy, and Ruth didn’t want to warn him of what was coming. If she went to him and said: I need to speak with you about something of great importance tomorrow at seven p.m., he would be tipped off, and all would be lost. He would be busy, or distracted, or would have time to think up some sort of counter-scheme…

And – and he would need time to think. This was the worst part, the part that caused her to bite her nails to the bone. But I cannot give him time to think! It will all be over then! I must force him! I must force him!

To do what? was her first thought. But that was quickly resolved by the newspaper. To oppose Munich. To change sides. To join Churchill and – and Gunther…

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