In the Shadows by Christine Swiderski

In the Shadows


Sometimes it is more than the obvious elephant in the room. The most nefarious problems are hidden in the shadows. Those little things we shrug off as nothing more than a bad day. Or lack of communication. The events are so sporadic they do not seem important. Until that one time when things get out of control.

Marriage is difficult whether you marry young or in your 30’s. Two different individuals find enough common ground they become connected through hormones or just the need to be with someone. At first, it’s all about tasting and lingering with each other. Slowly a new pattern starts as the realities of life press in. Bills need to be paid, hunger needs to be addressed. Work interferes with the passion. Sometimes to the point of diminishing the drive.

Stresses of daily living push in upon the most passionate couples.

My greatest flaw is I did not recognize the problem till it was too late. Denial is the most unrecognizable symptom. My grandmother would say “Some people put blinders on because they want things to be okay even when they are not.”

Dan and I are avid sports fans, we love to bike, sled, snowmobile, cross country ski. These are only one of the things that seemed to make us compatible. The sex was a sport at first. Yet as I said before life tends to draw your passions into a different direction. When things started to go south I blamed it on life being too oppressive at times. Dan had a bad day at work.

The first time it happened in the grand scheme of the day it appeared to be insignificant. My work was bringing me home an hour late every day that week. Dan would arrive 15 minutes after me. Normally I would be home and already had started dinner. Instead, I was changing clothes when he came in. I had hoped a late dinner would not be an issue. In fact, I had other ideas. We could de-stress between the sheets and order take out.

Dan came in looked at me and asked; “How is dinner coming.”

I answered; “I was thinking we both could be coming, then order take out.”

Dan abruptly stopped dressing, turned to me and asked; “You do not want to cook?”

I paused, tilted my head and said; “I will cook, if your not in the mood.”

Dan narrowed his eyes, ever so slowly he smiled. The look on his face gave me a shiver. He finally said; “I am always in the mood.”

I chalked it up to him haveing a stressful week. I am hoping the weekend we can just chill. After taking care of our carnal needs we ordered Chinese takeout. I volunteered to pick it up. While we were eating I asked Dan if he would like to go bike riding this weekend. Maybe stay at a bed and breakfast near our favorite trail. He hesitantly agreed. Another alarm should have gone off but I shrugged it off as fatigue.

Over the coming weeks, we barely passed each other in the night. We were both so busy at work. Our vacation was nearing. Our plan was to go to a national forest, camp, hike, bike ride, canoe.

We were both excited as we packed for our most excellent adventure. Just like old times. Nuzzling, kissing, making love on the living room floor before we headed out the door. We arrived at our destination without incident.

Once we unloaded our gear into the cabin we rented, I told Dan I was prepared to make a hot lunch. He said not to bother he wanted just sandwiches and hit the trail for a short hike. To do this before dark we needed to get going right away. This left the unpacking till we returned. The hike was wonderful. I took many photos. We are our sandwiches and drank ice tea perched on a rock overlooking a majestic vista.

We returned to the cabin, Dan gathered kindling, as I prepared dinner. The fire was ablaze the stew was made. Our bowls were steaming as we sat in front of the fire enjoying the moment.

The next morning took on a different mood. Dan woke first. I heard him in the living room starting the fire. I smelled coffee brewing. I got up padded down the hall in barefooted fantasizing living this way.

Once I turned the corner I saw the look on Dan’s face it was the same look he had when he asked me that day about dinner and not wanting to cook.

I asked what was wrong. He shook his head with his hands on his hips and said: “You should fucking know.”

I hadn’t a clue.

I stood there facing this man. He seemed more like a stranger than my loving husband. Turning he gruffly said: “You never will get it. Dimwitted."

Hot tears welled up in my eyes. I dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and strolled the short path behind the cabin. Once I returned, Dan had our bikes ready. With our backpacks packed he said: “Let’s ride.”

I nodded and just shrugged the morning mood off as an anomaly. Still unwinding.

We did a 10-mile loop the first day it was exhilarating. The second day we decided to take the 20-mile loop. All trails were well marked. We took extra gear knowing how things can go wrong. Dan had the tent, I had the sleeping bags. We were on our return path when Dan’s bike went out from underneath him. His front wheel slid on the gravel, the force pulled him over the edge of a small embankment. Dan and his bike slid down, finally stopping against a row of pines. He laid still for the longest time. I made my way down to see if he was alright. Dan stood, grabbed his bike and threw it at me.

I screamed: “Why did you throw that at me!”

He said: “Sorry I did not see you there.”

I shrugged it off as adrenaline and general pissed off moment. I suppose I would have done something similar.

His bike wasn’t rideable. We walked at least 5 miles before we decided to set up camp for the night. While Dan was putting up the tent, I gathered wood for a fire. In my backpack was all the food and utensils. Once the fire was going, Dan had the tent up and our sleeping bags rolled out.

We ate our hamburgers, and coleslaw amiably. Dan apologized for his latest outburst shrugging it off as “Stinking thinking generated by work issues.”

I nodded and agreed that it can be hectic. Told him about my fantasy, living here for real. He laughed and said “Your too much of a city girl. Take you this far away from a mall you would go through withdrawals in no time.”

Once we were back at the cabin things seemingly went back to normal. Easy loving, laughing and playing with each other. I was sleeping soundly when I felt something wet on my face. Opening my eyes I noticed a wet towel lying across my face. Pulling it off I turned to Dan and said: “What the hell.”

He said; “You know how I hate to find shit lying on the floor. Why did you leave your towel on the floor of the bathroom?”

I said: “If it was on the floor it was probably right under the hook. It must have fallen. There is no reason to be childish about it.”

His eyes were glaring, jaw set. I met him toe to toe this time.

He took a deep breath calming himself. I thought for sure he was going to hit me.

The next morning there were more apologies. I was no longer in a mood for apologies but I let it go so I could enjoy the canoe ride.

Putting our Canoe in, the current would take us to a Canoe rental 20 miles down. We planned on stopping along the shore for lunch. Some things just do not go as planned. The current was strong. Probably due to the heavy rains the week before. We worked hard keeping the canoe straight not wanting to run into the large protruding rocks. As the river turned something quickly came into view. A large limb had fallen across the river. When the canoe hit, it propelled Dan over the front of the canoe. I believe he hit his head on the branch. I scrambled to keep our gear and grab the floaters. Dan was pulled under the branch I made it to the shore through our gear onto the sand. Using the branch I pulled myself to where I last saw Dan. He wasn’t there.

12 hours later they found his body, badly beaten up and lifeless.

I am telling you all this because I am still grieving. Also letting you know I do not put up with any kind of abuse. Whether it I physical or verbal.


Larry said; “Marcy, I can fully understand that. I don’t want to rush you. I just wanted you to know I love you. I am here if you want me.”


I replied: “I just wanted you to know all my baggage. I do not expect you to help me to unload it. I don’t expect you to help me carry it. Just hold my arms up when I get too tired.”