The thin veneer that hides the truth from the rest of the world is applied for reasons known only to the individual that wears it. It’s worn so that we can continue to function in the world as best we can, knowing that, for now, the truth of what’s beneath must remain hidden. How many coats does it take? How many are enough?
Claire is doing her best to make a life without Jamie in Boston. She goes through the motions of domesticity, but she mourns for Jamie and the life they once had. A small bird at the window pecks at the veneer, as does the sight of newborn Bree and that copper-colored hair, especially when the attending nurse questions its source. When she tries to make love with Frank in front of the fireplace, she’s willing herself back to Castle Leoch and the makeup sex she had with Jamie. Frank isn’t blind to the fact that Claire’s not really with him and calls her out. “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you – but you’re with him.” The veneer is fragile, so apply another coat, quickly.
Jamie has retreated into himself and become a fragile shell of the fierce, proud Highlander he once was. Living in cave is akin to living in a tomb, and the longer he stays, the more danger he brings to his family. Nothing matters now because Claire is gone from his life forever. He convinces Jenny and Ian to turn him in to the Redcoats – they’ll receive the reward money and be spared further harassment. On the eve before the reveal, Mary McNab visits Jamie in the cave and offers herself to him, a human touch to carry them forward with the rest of their lives. Jamie initially refuses, then a wee crack in the veneer enables him accept the touch of a woman other than Claire.
He surrenders to the Redcoats and is taken away to prison. The journey will be long – he’ll have time to apply several additional coats of veneer.
Some emotional triggers are obvious and can be either avoided or prepared for in advance. Photos can be locked away, familiar, heart-wrenching places can be avoided, and contacts deleted from your social media sites. Others come without warning, like the bagpipe player Claire encounters on a solitary walk in Boston.
It’s probably a good idea to have a travel-size bottle of veneer on hand at all times. You never know when you might need it, but at some point will the layers become too heavy to bear?