AT MY WIFE's office party, someone gets the idea to share dark secrets. The only rule is the secrets have to be true and something no one knows.
We’re all a bit drunk, and so we write our confessions down on slips of notebook paper, tossing them into a Tupperware bowl that smells of paste and buttered popcorn.
K. plies his fingers through the heap like he’s tossing a salad or massaging someone’s scalp. He does this with his eyes closed, humming mystically.
“Here goes,” K. says, reading the first one:
“I once caught Dad in bed with another man. My father was wearing earrings, lipstick and a wedding dress.”
Even though that’s not my secret, I still feel queasy and guilty, as if everyone in the room thinks it’s mine.
But nobody comments. No one even seems to breathe.
Next K. reads:
“My uncle came to live with us when I was eight. For four years, he sexually abused me several times a week. When I finally told my mother, she slapped me and called me a little slut.”
There’s still no air, no response from anyone, though several of us reach for our drinks and take long pulls.
It goes on like this for over an hour, forever, until the Tupperware bowl is empty and we’re all sweaty and trembling.
Afterward, when K. says, “Group hug?” no one moves.
I think about the weak secret I shared, the one that got read aloud, but then I think about the thing I should have shared, what I’ve never told anyone--how I wed my wife in order to be near her already-married sister, who I really love.
When K. says, “I’m impressed. You were all quite brave,” my wife leans in, clutches my hand, giving it a firm squeeze.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans. His work appears widely in print journals and online. His story collection, "The Dark Sunshine" debuted from Connotation Press last year. You can find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.