display | more...
It was an easy divorce, the lawyers were a technicality. Hers was a woman, too, but I couldn't help a little smugness.   Mine is prettier.   I didn't say it out loud. Had long since given up jabs like that; they ended up hurting me worse than Suzy. Susan.

My lawyer was pretty, and I noticed, and she noticed me watching. I knew I would only see her a few times. There was less paperwork than I'd imagined. A marriage, terminated as easily as selling a car. Sign here. Initial. You're done, go have your separate lives with too much room in the bed.

My lawyer's name was Rebecca and it was her idea to go for ice cream. Celebration. If she'd said it cheerfully, my stomach might have turned and I would have declined, gone home to my newly-won quiet house. But she said "celebration" with a wry face, just short of a wince. She knew we weren't celebrating anything, we were just done.

We walked down the grass, still in courtroom clothes. I kept my hands in my pockets, they seemed to live there lately. A good place to clench them. No ice cream for me, walking alone with a new woman was enough of a risk, no need for ice cream to distract me or slide down my tie. She took off her shoes and swung them. Good with the right important words in court, here her lesser words were freed to tumble. She laughed at me and at herself, at the ice cream dribbling down her wrist, she took licks between bursts of words. I watched her, and listened, and tried to keep up, dazzled, dumb.

What was childlike? Not her words, not her suit or her face. The only young thing she had was optimism, and it was all of her.   Listen, Burke. I see a lot of this. You don't think I can see how you feel, you're being brave, but I know. And it passes. It really does.

She had stopped talking to tell me this. How did she know the right things to do with her body to make me believe her? And I did. I thought she might be right. My whole body was so exhausted by these months, this year. A mutually-agreed-on divorce does not mean an easy time, or a cheerful one. I was aching from a year of zero cheerfulness. Here was some, right in front of me, showing me how easy it was. How accessible. I told her I'd decided I could use some ice cream after all, and we turned around.