worlds apart by juleshg

30 May

Claire walked into her apartment and paused to triple-lock the door.  This was not a fabulous neighbourhood but it was close to work and campus and it was the only place in the neighbourhood she could afford.  She noticed that the light on her answering machine was flashing and hit the button hoping it was the bookstore offering her an additional shift this week.  It wasn’t:  it was her mother.

“Claire?? Are you home Claire?  Is this the machine?  Claire, you know that I don’t talk to machines.  Claire….”  click

Claire sighed as she called her mother back.  “Hello mother.  It’s me.  I got your message.  How are you?”

“Hello darling.  I saw Janine Locke at the bank yesterday.”  No preamble and no chit-chat.  This was not going to be good; Claire closed her eyes and held her breath.  She knew that her mother would eventually run into her former mother-in-law but she had been dreading this moment for weeks.

“Claire, she told me that you and Brian were divorced,” with the last word her mother’s voice dropped to a scandalized whisper.

“Well Mother, we are divorced.  In fact I sent the papers back just last week.  You can’t possibly be surprised.  I left Cranton Creek three months ago and he didn’t come with me – that had to be a clue.”

“Claire, I don’t appreciate your tone.  You know that I think you are making a big mistake.  A divorce?  What happens in six months from now when you come to your senses and you realize that you no longer have a husband to come back to?”

“Mother, I am not coming back to Cranton Creek.  I live in New York now for better or for worse.  There was no point in keeping Brian waiting around.  I want him to be happy and be able to move on.”

“Claire …”

“No Mother, you need to listen to me. I live in New York.  I am going to be a writer.  I am going to tough this out.”

“What happens when you stop loving New York? Then what?”

“Stop loving New York?  I stop loving New York at least three times a day.  I live in a hovel and my landlord seems to think that hot water is an optional upgrade to my base rent payment.  Today some twenty year-old know-it-all in my seminar class called my short-story ‘pedestrian’ and then I got a huge welt on my leg when some idiot customer with a stroller rammed into the back of me when I was helping her find a book on how to discipline her maniacal child –not a minute too soon, might I add.”

“Claire…”

“No Mother, you need to hear this.  Today I hate New York.  Tomorrow I will probably still hate New York.   But every so often I will go to an amazing or get a jolt of inspiration just by watching someone on the subway and I know I have to stay here.  I made my bed and I am going to lie in it.”

*****

Brian looked up as he heard the light knock on his door and smiled at his assistant as she crossed the office with a large envelope. 

“Thanks Joan,” he said noticing the look of pity on her face.

“Those would be my divorce papers, right?”  She nodded and left them on the desk retreating quickly to the reception area.

Alone at his desk Brian picked up the envelope and stared at it for a full minute before tearing it open.  He flipped through the pages until he came to the one with Claire’s signature beside the Post-it Flag.  She had signed the papers Claire Davis – her maiden name.  It was officially over.

The past three months had been a blur.  Claire had moved out within days of announcing that she was moving to New York and had packed only her clothes and a few photos of their life together.  She told him that he could have everything else:  the furniture, the house and their retirement savings.  He was sure she had not read the divorce papers carefully or she would have noticed that he had added a clause giving her all of the money in their savings account. 

He has been angry at first.  When she first left he could not bear to be in the house alone.  Three months later he had yet to set foot in the dining room where she had sat him down and explained why she was leaving.  Instead he had thrown himself into his work and was billing more hours than any other lawyer in the firm.

Two weeks ago he had taken his first day off in months and had driven the three and a half hours to New York City.  He was not sure if he really wanted to see Claire but he could not stop himself.  He had to find the address that she had e-mailed him with a polite request that he forward any of her mail.  As he drove by the building that she lived in his heart sank.  He decided at that moment that he would revise the divorce papers as he got home making sure she got the extra money.  His parents would argue but he didn’t care.

She may not want him – the fact that she was willing to live in this neighbourhood was proof enough – but he did not want her to suffer and he knew that Claire would never ask him for help.

When he noticed her walking down the street Brian ducked down in the front seat of his car praying she did not see him there.  She seemed pre-occupied and he recognized the frustration on her face as she juggled her backpack and two mesh grocery bags. He watched as she pushed open the faded apartment door and disappeared into the building before he started his car to drive back to Cranton Creek alone.

We first met Claire and Brian in Breaking Free.

In Dedication we catch up with them twenty years later to see how their separate lives turned out.

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2 Responses to “worlds apart by juleshg”

  1. Amrione Guy July 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    I’ll follow your advice. Most of the time i only read marriage/relationship matter at mierue.com

  2. juleshg July 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    you’re going to follow my advice? Yikes! I just write fiction… LOL

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