By Barbara Sibbald
— I know I accepted your conditions, Luc, says Fiona angrily. I agreed not to tell Anne, but what choice did I have? I mean really?
— Fee, do we have to talk about this now? I just want to relax and read the paper while the risotto* bakes.
— Luc, I’m steaming. You put me off last night.
— I didn’t get home until eleven!
— Well, we need to talk about this.
— The way I see it, you left me with no choice, continues Fiona. If I hadn’t accepted your conditions, if I had told Anne that Georges was screwing around…. Well, you said it yourself, you’d feel I was being disloyal to you.
— Well, you would have been.
— So basically, my choice was being loyal to you and not telling Anne, or vice versa. Either way I’m the big loser.
— It’s not quite so black and white, Fee, he says. You know you didn’t want to tell Anne, not really. You wanted to save her the pain of knowing, and if Georges had just quietly broke it off, well so much the better.
— What? No harm done? Are you kidding me? Of course there was harm. There was harm from the moment Georges decided to have it off with Giselle. Before he even did it. And, yes, I am a bit of a coward when it comes to breaking bad news.
— More of a Pollyanna, he says, grinning.
— Whatever, she retorts tersely. The fact is, I avoid it at all costs. But this time, I should have done the tough thing, because that was the right thing. Anne had a right to know, and to make her own decisions about this. The secrecy has just made it so much worse. Now Anne’s not only been betrayed by her husband, but also by her best friend.
— And you blame me?
— No, not entirely, of course not. But Luc, you did put me in a terrible position.
— By telling you about the affair in the first place?
— So it would have been better if I kept it a secret? To keep secrets from you? My partner?
— Yes. No. Well, no, but you should have thought it through more thoroughly. About what it meant to tell me, and whether telling Anne was the right thing to do, no matter what the repercussions were for your friendship with Georges. Look what’s happened now! You and Georges are still fine friends and Anne and I have had a total blow-out over this. So basically, my friendship was sacrificed to save yours.
— How was I to know that would happen, Fee? It’s certainly not what I wanted.
— What did you want?
— I wanted to save both friendships, and maybe their marriage as well.
— Aren’t you the noble one! Don’t you think that was just a tad controlling, Luc?
— Not that again! he says. It always comes down to that for you, doesn’t it Fee? Any argument we have, over sex, or Gavin, or the house, it always comes down to me wanting to wrest control. Don’t you think there might be more to it than that?
— Of course there’s more, but that is the root of a lot of this. And besides, you’re changing the topic.
— Which is…?
— Why can’t you admit that we made a mistake in November when we decided not to tell Anne? I can admit that now.
— Hindsight’s always twenty-twenty. Fee, we’ve just gone through this, the whole circle. You didn’t want to tell Anne any more than I did. You accepted my solution gratefully, you know you did.
— So I’m solely responsible?
— Architect of your own actions. If you’d stood up for telling her, if you’d insisted, even if you’d followed-up on Georges and Giselle and the fact that it kept going on for two months….
— Hey, don’t stick me with that too, says Fiona, pointing her finger at his chest. That was your piece of the ultimatum. You said you’d talk to him. You should have followed up on that.
— Well, the fact is that neither one of us did. So, yes, I take some of the blame for that.
— And what about telling me in the first place. Don’t you think you should have given that a bit more thought, for the situation you dumped me in? persists Fiona.
— You aren’t going to let this go until you have blood, are you?
She stares at him, her dark eyes flashing angrily. Luc sighs.
— Yes, I probably should have thought it through. But Fiona, one of the best things about our relationship is that we do tell each other everything. We believe in that.
— Yes, we do, she says, and that’s a good thing. But sometimes we have to think before we speak, appreciate what the information will mean to the other person. In this case, what the moral implications were. And that there may be a price to pay, on both sides, for being honest.
— I did pay a price, I lost Georges’ friendship for a while.
— And now I’ve lost Anne’s, and I’m not sure she’ll come back.
— She will. You guys are tight.
— Maybe. You don’t know that. And I’ve really hurt her. Deeply.
— I am sorry about that, says Luc.
— Do you think it would help if I talked to her? he asks. If I told her it was my idea not to tell her.
— You’d have to apologize too, you know, for being paternalistic about it, for putting your friendship with Georges ahead of their marriage and my friendship with Anne.
— Phew, that’s a lot of weight.
— I’ve taken my hit for the team, says Fee.
— Yeah, yeah. And Fee, I am sorry I put you in that position. You’re right, I didn’t think it through.
— Well, Georges shouldn’t have told you either, says Fiona. It’s not all your responsibility. Just because he was lying to his wife, doesn’t mean he should have assumed you’d lie to yours.
— I don’t think he thought of it in those terms, he just wanted an alibi.
— Purely selfish then.
— So you’ll talk to Anne?
— Yes. I’m really sorry about what’s happened, Fiona. Really sorry.
He takes her hand across the table and she looks up at him.
— One thing’s for sure, she says, Georges’ selfishness isn’t going to make us fall out.
— No, he says, giving her hand a squeeze.
*Easy bake risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 types of vegetables, washed and chopped, about 2 cups in all (choose from red pepper, leek, garlic, onions, mushrooms)
1 cup Arborio risotto
3 cups vegetable stock (from cube is fine)
Fish (haddock, salmon or trout, no skin) or vegetable (broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Heat oil in medium, oven-proof pot. Add 3 types of vegetable and rice. Sauté until vegetables are fairly tender.
- Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
- Cover and put in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Put fish or veggie on top, sprinkle with parmesan. Cook another 5 minutes. Serve with green salad.
Thank you to Josefine Lami for this recipe.