Rosemary stepped onto the fourth floor of the courthouse. “Domestics & Civil,” a sign on the wall read. She looked around. A security guard stood near courtroom three. A man sat at a bench looking angry. People eyeballed one another. Didn’t look so civil.
Rosemary spotted her attorney with another client. A hand-guided suggestion to sit near courtroom four, was the physical communication her attorney gave. Rosemary followed suit.
Thirty minutes, she noted on her diamond-encrusted Tag Hauer. She had come too early. That was just like Rosemary. So fucking eager. That had always been her weakness. The reason she had landed in the big house in the first place. Seven minutes in heaven? Seventeen years in hell.
“At least he was a good provider.” She heard a voice inside her say. She knew that voice. It was mother’s voice saying the thing Rosemary had once heard grandmother say to her mother.
When Rosemary realized that she was pregnant, Ronald was in his fifth year of college. He barely had enough credits to be considered a first semester junior. But, his parents owned the largest insurance company in the State. Ronald got a Director of Marketing title and a nice office. Rosemary got the M-R-S title and a white, two-story house.
Rosemary extended her left hand to look at the engagement ring. She still hadn’t taken off the two-carat diamond. It was a fine piece of jewelry. And it, along with a home filled with objects had pacified her during the marriage. Ronald was good at gifts; bad at surprises.
Like the time he surprised her during a party at their house. She went downstairs to get more paper products and found him fucking one of her friends in the storage room.
Like the time he surprised her with an STD.
Liked the time he surprised her son with a fast car. Like the times he allowed her son to have a “drink with dad.” Like the times he taught her son to drive drunk. Like the time…
She breathed in through her nose. Held her breath for a five count. Exhaled through her mouth.
She would not grieve Charles. Not like this. Not. Like. This.
She would grieve Charles by thinking of all the good times they shared together. The bike rides along Linear Trail. Sunday dinners with family and friends. The road trips Ronald planned for them.
Yes, she would even remember Ronald’s role in the good times. After all, he was part of the good times that she had with her son. A double-edged sword of happy memories and sad thoughts. She could see herself getting addicted to the pain.
“Adoption Day!” A family near courtroom three cheered. A pretty brunette started talking into a phone. “This is our Facebook live event.”
Rosemary looked at the floor. Adoption day. Maybe she should have considered an adoption day. If she had Charles would still be…
No! She stopped herself. She would never have given Charles up. He was a beautiful baby. He was the perfect baby, her baby. She closed her eyes and saw his beautiful face. Dark bushy eyebrows, jet black hair, and full lips; those had been her gifts to him. Love of music and dancing. Zest for life. He had gained all the best of her Puerto Rican heritage.
And, he had gained some of the worst features of her heritage… Reckless, daring, and her father’s machista attitude. Those had been the other attributes he had gained from her side.
No. Ronald was a machista and he wasn’t Latino. “I’m the man, sweetheart.” He said when she requested he consult with her before making family decisions. It did not matter that her father was a machista and Latino. Ronald was a machista and white. Ethnicity didn’t matter to male dominance.
She looked around for Ronald. Of course, he wasn’t going to show up. He had never shown up for the marriage. Why would he show up for its end?
Rosemary thought about her time moving forward. She had been a child, a freshman in college, when she married at 19. She became a mother at 20. Now at 37, she was going to be single and childless. She had never learned who she was. Now, she was losing everything that she had ever been.
Rosemary stood up. She did not need to be thinking like this. Not like this. She inhaled through her nose. She went to the nearest restroom. The lighting was horrible but at least there was a full-length mirror. Rosemary stood before it, examining her navy pants and matching jacket. She was going for professional and strong. A crisp white button-down shirt and her favorite scarf, the one she bought in Paris, completed her outfit of choice to commemorate the end of her past.
She brushed her hands through the dark slanted bob. She had cut off over sixteen inches of hair last night. She applied a plum colored gloss on her lips. Rosemary was ready to get regain her freedom. She would do great things with it. And, she would never take her life, herself, for granted.
Rosemary’s first order of business; take a road trip with her sister. She had never taken advantage of the liberal paid time off she received while working at her in-law’s insurance company. She had, for example, never gone on a girls’ trip. She would do that now.
Rosemary returned to the hall and found her attorney ready to go into the courtroom. They stood at one of the tables and waited for the judge to appear. “Answer the questions,” her lawyer said. Confirm the agreement.
Rosemary watched the judge sit on his bench. He was serious looking in his black robe. His black-framed glasses contrasted sharply with his white hair. He motioned her to the witness stand.
Rosemary raised her right hand. “I do.” She responded when asked about telling the truth. But could she? Could she tell the truth about her relationship? Did she herself even know what the truth was? She knew what her mother had said, “you do the crime; you pay the time.”
What had been her crime anyway? Giving her virginity up to a frat boy who did not believe in condoms. No. She would not beat herself up about that. No more. Rosemary knew it was time; time for her to get out. She would call it… early release for good behavior.
“I filed.” She looked at the judge’s face. She wondered if he was a parent. “Incompatibility.” She responded to her lawyer’s question.
She took a breath and braced herself for the question that was about to come. “Yes. But he died. There are no other children under the age of majority. No other children period.”
The judge looked down at his hands. He was a parent. She recognized the discomfort he felt. It was the discomfort every parent now felt around her.
“Yes, the agreement is fair, just, and equitable.” She responded.
Rosemary had been surprised by that. She expected Ronald’s family to rally around him. Especially after Charles’s funeral where she had been poisoned by grief; “he’s dead and it’s on you.” She blamed Ronald; threw it in his face.
“Thank you, your honor.” Rosemary said after the judge wished her luck.
Out in the hallway, Rosemary thanked her lawyer and walked away. Her seventeen-year sentence commuted. Ready for a freedom she had not wanted, she walked out the courtroom a childless mother and an ex-wife. But, she walked out a woman ready to be focused on herself. Rosemary’s time was now her own.
*A story about love… or at least the end of it. Welcome to my blog. Today, I am excited to share a short story I wrote a few years ago. Copyright 2018 by Amada Acosta Addair (Gabriela Amada Vega Acosta.)