“Mrs. Lowell, please sign on the papers.”
I watched the rat faced man in his black coat point to where I was supposed to sign. Wonder why lawyers and bank managers think we cannot read and understand the documents that are handed to us. I would surely ask him what section 598.2 and 598.6 of the Iowa Code Annotated meant, but I definitely know where to sign. It is not that which retards my movements. I still hear the words at the top of the page shouting out at me.
“Ma, where is dad going?”
I had slapped her and told her that she shouldn’t talk to me as I was not an interesting person anymore. Mel cried and ran to her room before she turned around and said, “Why are you doing this? I don’t want to hate you!”
It was only after a few minutes that I had entered her room, my shadow stretching and bending over her bed and rippling its way over the crumpled sheets till my head rested on her little heart.
“I am sorry, honey. May I come in?”
She had sniffed and sat up on her bed, looking straight down at the Tweety sitting on the farther edge of her bed. She always wanted to see Tweety the first thing in the morning for it meant that her day would be good and cheery. I had smiled before I walked up to Tweety. She would be my shield tonight.
“I am sorry, sweetheart. Mommy was a little upset and I didn’t mean to shout at you or hurt you. Will you forgive me?”
Mel answered with a hug. We had stayed like that for quite a while and I couldn’t help let images of my husband and Jessica flash through my mind. Do they always do it in her bed, or did they do it in his car too? He liked it that way, didn’t he? And then…
“Mom, where did dad go?”
“Dad doesn’t want me anymore, sweetie.”
I wasn’t too old and any woman after childbirth does get a few bags of flesh here and there. I had bought that cream to prevent the sagging but my doctor had recommended that I not use it while feeding the baby. I never got around to using it again. I am what I am. Why should I change myself for him? He was leaving me anyway.
“Because, your dad wants another woman.”
“But you are a woman. You said I will be a woman too.”
How could I explain to her?
“Love, dad finds me boring. He thinks I do not keep him happy. He also…”
“Then let’s make him a cake. I will be careful with the eggs and”, she jumped out of the bed before continuing, “then we can all go to Disneyland and have lots of fun. We can go for the Disney on Ice thing and then we could also ride…” She was excitedly jumping up and down.
“Dad won’t find them interesting, dear. That is not what he wants. He doesn’t want us.”
“Oh! But I wasn’t a bad girl. You are a wonderful mom.”
I had smiled and hugged her.
“Isn’t there something we could do to make dad stay?”
Why should I do that something? Wasn’t this his marriage too? If he thought he had the easy way out, then I don’t need him. I don’t need you anymore, Josh. I don’t need you. I can handle things on my own. I will be better off than you; without you. Mel doesn’t need you.
“A marriage is not about an individual. It is about a singular harmonious perspective of this world.”
Mom was always giving me these Zen things. They never made sense and they were never useful in the real world.
“Enough, mom! Dad and you divorced too.”
“Hence, I say.”
“And that is supposed to be a cowardly thing to do?”
“I think I will take my life without it and build my own 20/20.”
“You can always live your life without anyone else, dear.”
“And I will do it.”
“Maybe that is why he felt he wasn’t needed.”
That was absolute bullshit. Mom always tried to defend others. I gave him so much. I watched his favourite games. I cooked him his meals. I cannot understand what he writes nor do I see any point in those sitting-on-a-bench-watching-the-geese thing he likes so much. There are so many things he didn’t give me.
“Mrs. Lowell”, said my lawyer again, “Over there and there.”
I read the title on the page once more: DECREE OF DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE. Amidst the voices that made my life, I signed “Amanda Mary Jenkins” over the dotted line. That is all it takes. 17 letters to make worthless all that one dreamed of and lay bare a world where one would need to create it all again with the struts of “I still have my child”, “I still have a job”, “I still have my friends” and “I can do it”.
Mom’s soft piercing voice said, “Life is not about what one can do. It is verily about how easily we can undo.”