Word Count 489
By B.A. Sarvey
These are not my thoughts. These are not my words. This story—this secret—belongs to someone else. I will tell you, but you must promise not to tell. I also promised not to tell. The funny thing about secrets is, human nature dictates that we share them. A secret, untold, eats away at us, like a worm inside an apple, leaving the skin unblemished while the flesh within is destroyed.
Scandalous, the secrets some people have.
What is a secret? Something others cannot know: hidden information about joyous surprises; a locked box hiding bad decisions. Enticing. Too interesting to keep to oneself—whether it is our own or someone else’s. Things that make guilt fester, threatening to explode without an outlet. Things that make us burst with happiness—willing to spoil the moment of revelation in order to fulfill a personal need.
Secrets are almost as good as rumors.
The secret in my heart is as sullen as the sky that hovers, ashen, above black tree skeletons whose bony fingers reach out to dine on crisp leaves littered across the white tablecloth of snow. It blankets me, yet chills me to the bone—smothers me, fills my lungs with oxygen-starved blood. My brain screams out for release, relief, someone to share this thing with. They say three people can keep a secret—if only one is alive. Are you certain you want to hear? I once watched a man die and did nothing to stop it. Does this shock you? Make you yearn for lurid snapshots secreted away in my memory? Perhaps you want to know who the man was, how he died, and why I stood by. Is this a secret? If so, is it mine? I know it, but it might belong to another. I told you, these are not my words. But perhaps I lied before. Perhaps I am lying now. Are you the third person to know? Will you be the next to die?
This secret, if indeed it is a secret, and the unknowable information behind it, is only one of many things I have been privy to throughout my lifetime. Are you afraid of sharing my knowledge? We could trade secrets, if you like. What—you must own a secret or two. Not willing to share? Please do not back away—I spoke in jest about dying. And the man—that was real enough, but had nothing to do with secrets and was not a secret itself. I only told you to unburden myself of something that makes me feel uncertain, uncomfortable; and to gauge your reaction to shocking statements.
The thing I know, the thing I must own, the thing I cannot share, I swallow whole, like a dusky purple Damson plum. It sticks in my craw—it will not go down and it will not come up. I will choke and die on this secret. But I will never tell.