Posted on: 2013-12-15
George Knightley had experienced jealously before- a kind of burning jealousy that had seared images of Emma and Frank into his brain. But, that had been before. Now, it was years later. Frank and Jane were, to all appearances, happily married. And, most importantly, he and Emma were perfectly happily married.
Even on the day of his marriage to Emma, George had not understood the endless possibilities of happiness that were opening to him. Of course, George had been indescribably happy to be (finally) marrying Emma. Their marriage had been in the making for twenty-five plus years. Saying the vows had been a relief. Until she had repeated her vows, eyes twinkling and impish smile in place, George had been worried that some calamity would occur, and yet another day would pass in which she was not his wife. Or, more realistically, that she would realize that her brightness of spirit had not met its match in a man ten years older with a distinctly more "stick in the mud" personality. But, then- they had gotten married, and George's heart had been filled with both bliss and a sense of resolution.
However, even at that moment in the Church, his heart bursting with fullness, he had not comprehended all the endless sources of happiness that he would experience with Emma. He had not understood how waking up each morning to her face would reassure him and give him a sense of constancy that he had lost the day that his parents had died. He had not understood how even their fights could further imbue him with security as to their commitment to one another. He had not understood how coming home to her every night could fill his heart with even more happiness than he had felt on their wedding day. In short, on their wedding day, he could not have comprehended all the simple joys and happiness that were in store for him. Three years of marriage later, he understood this.
Of course, George had too strong a character to blind himself to Emma's faults or think her to be some sort of virtuous paragon. He was not a silly man. But she was the perfect woman for him. In saner moments, moments in which he was capable of rational thought, he believed himself to be the perfect man for her. A lesser man would have allowed Emma to walk all over him. But, George had to acknowledge that he was not capable of rational thought at this moment.
Seeing Emma and Frank laughing and passionately discuss the merits of a painting in the gallery- a painting that George could not have discussed beyond a cursory "it's nice, honey" comment- was not doing good things for his stomach. Oh he would not denigrate Emma's character by inferring something improper in her interaction with Frank. She was too loyal and too firm in her moral integrity to betray their marital bonds. George would never doubt her. But, watching their shared laughter pervade the gallery and infuse the air with magnetism and golden charm, he wanted to crush the glass in his hand.
Did she regret her choice in men? Did she realize her easy camaraderie with Frank and wish things were different? Did even the tiniest part of her heart ache with the loss of Frank? Did she yearn to go home with him, instead of her staid husband? The picture that Emma and Frank presented was beautiful and charming. Unaware of his actions, George took a bigger gulp of his drink. Oh he knew, Emma would never betray him in action. Nevertheless, he didn't know if he could survive if even a part of her heart or mind longed for Frank.
But how could she not regret her choice? George might be constant, faithful, and dependable. Yet, Frank and Emma shared the same interests- music, art, travel, culture, opera.... George had always been more a sports fan. He could appreciate a beautiful piece of art, but, ultimately, it was only paint on paper to him. He would never prefer museums to a baseball game. Forget the ballet, which seemed akin to the dentist to him, but which Emma adored. It was Emma who had insisted on attending the opening of a trendy gallery. While he felt wholly out of place, she could not have been more comfortable. She was a gorgeous butterfly, and never more had George felt more like an inadequate bug.
Before he was fully conscious of his actions, George found himself walking out of the gallery. He felt numb. He had known that his relationship with Emma stood on unequal ground- how could it not when knew that she did not, or could not, love him to the same degree with which he loved her? Never more had this inequality been presented with such stark clarity than it had today, however, and he felt every bit as if Emma had struck at his heart with the thin stiletto heels she was so fond of wearing. He was so consumed in his thoughts that he did not hear the sound of heels running on the sidewalk behind him. He only noticed her, when her hand tugged at his sleeve.
Her other hand was holding his winter jacket. Emma was rarely an intuitive person. Usually, she assumed she knew what someone else wanted and blazed on ahead with that assumption. Something must have alerted her to his state of mind, and she just silently helped him into his coat. Digging into some giant bag she was forever insisting on carrying, she found a pair of his mitten, shoved his hands into them, and began propelling him towards their car. This reminder of the indomitable force of her character shook him out of whatever fog he had been in.
"Emma," he began.
"No- not until we get inside." She shook her head, and George was vaguely convinced that he could hear her muttering things about stupid men and the lack of proper winter garments.
Before he knew it, she had shepherded him into the car, blasted the heat, and turned the full force of her glare onto him. "Since I refuse to believe that I married someone so stupid as to go out in the middle of December without a coat, I have to believe there's some other explanation for why you were risking pneumonia."
He did feel a tad bit ridiculous now, especially as he stared at her left hand tapping impatiently on her leg. She wore his ring on that hand, and he reached for that hand, needing to feel the tangible comfort of her. How could he explain his feelings? Rationally, he was aware that he was being foolish, yet these fears felt all too real. Would one day come where she realized how different they were and miss Frank's company? Had that day already come where she was tired of him?
"I went a little crazy, when I saw you with Frank." He could see that had had shocked her- she had not expected jealousy. He wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but he was sure that he was taken aback by his confession. She opened her mouth to respond, but he stilled her with shake of his head.
"No, Emma, I know you would never cheat on me. But, when I saw the two of you together....All I could wonder is if you wished you had picked him." George had never been good at expressing his feelings. As an attorney, he was all too used to relying on logic and facts. It had taken him five years to realize the true nature of his feelings for Emma, and another two more years before he found the courage to tell her about those feelings. Now, however hesitantly, he told her of every doubt and insecurity he had felt this evening.
Drained, he stared at her apprehensively. She was biting her lip, a habit from her childhood days that she still reverted to when deep in thought. "Well, I take that back. I did marry a stupid man." It was his turn to be shocked. Of all the possible gamut of reactions, he had not foreseen this.
"George, do you honestly think I'd be so shallow? So, Frank and I both like art! And, so you don't! It takes more to build a life together than a few shared interests. You complete me, George. You bring me balance. Without you, I'd forget to eat, forget to pay bills, forget to do anything but write. Without you, I'd never question my stupid judgments and probably ruin the lives of everyone around me.
Plus, if you want to talk about insecurity- should I tell you how I feel at every single one of your law firm events? To hear everyone talking about my brilliant husband's legal victories and know my professional achievements will never hold a candle to yours. Don't you think I know what your colleagues think about me? That I'm some sort of trophy wife, stupid and only valuable for my looks?
I've never cared what they thought. I only care what you think, George. Your opinion is the most important thing in the world to me. Anytime anything good happens, you're the first one that I want to tell. Anytime, my stories get rejected, and I feel like an enormous failure- you're the only person in this planet that I want to talk to. I.....can't believe that you don't know how much I love you. I thank God every day that you're my husband. I thank God for our life together. I can't imagine being with anyone BUT you. How can you not know that?"
George could see that Emma's eyes were suspiciously bright. And, really, what else could he do but kiss her, beg her forgiveness, and swear to never be such an idiot again? This would be the best Christmas of his life.