"Well, sure," she replied, taking the manuscript and looking pleasantly surprised, "First time you've let me see anything you've written before it was published – ever since I 'borrowed' your idea for that English theme in junior high! What's the occasion?"
"Oh, this one's been giving me fits for days and still won't work itself out reasonably," I answered honestly, "There are two obvious possible endings, but neither is really satisfactory. I can't make up my mind between them: first one looks better, then the other. But neither feels completely consistent with the characters."
She nodded and walked to her favorite chair in my family room. Julia's a fast reader and it took her only a few minutes to finish the dozen typed pages. Looking up after the last one, she observed, "I really like it this far. But frankly, I don't see your problem. Obviously she has to tell her friend, it's the only thing she can possibly do." That's what I admire most about Julia: her self-confidence, her ability to make quick decisions.
"Really?" I asked doubtfully – demonstrating again my own conspicuous lack of those same virtues. "Don't you think she should first decide whether her friend would want to know?"
"Of course she'd want to know! Any reasonable woman would, and she comes across as a very sensible person. If Donald ever did anything like that to me – I mean, just imagine: Donald!" she shook her head gently and chuckled fondly at the absurd thought, then continued seriously, "But if he did, I'd definitely want to know. Anybody who'd keep that kind of secret certainly has no right to call herself a friend!"
"But what about the two women, their friendship?" I persisted, "That's very important to both of them. Could it survive something like that?"
"It doesn't have anything to do with their friendship, that's the point! How could the wife possibly resent her friend for merely being a good friend? It isn't as if she spied on anybody or deliberately set out to make trouble. She accidentally learned something that her friend should know, and now she simply has to tell her.
"But," she stated positively, "I'll tell you one thing no friendship could survive: when the wife does find out – and she will – and realizes her friend knew all along without saying anything, that will end their friendship for sure!" I nodded, half-convinced, as she continued, "How will she tell her, that's the only real question. Have you figured that out yet?"
"Yes," I said slowly, turning reluctantly away, "She's going to write it as a story without an ending, and ask her friend to read it. She'll abide by whatever her friend says she should do."
* * *
Despite all the pain, I know in my heart I did the right thing – and I'm sure Julia agrees. Nobody needs to tell me how hectic it is these days, being a single parent while holding down a full-time job, but Julia is very efficient; soon she'll get it all under control and we'll have plenty of time to get together again, the way we used to.