a Magazine for Writers
by Sandra Melanson

Beyond the window panes the breathtaking beauty of the snowcapped mountains and the umber foliage almost brought a smile to my lips. Two months ago it would have, but two months ago I was Suzie, the happy homemaker.

Now here I was, sitting in my lawyer's office, waiting to sign my life away. I never had my own lawyer before; I never had the need for one. I didn't even know any good lawyers, just ran my finger down the long list in the yellow pages in the local telephone directory, closed my eyes and picked. I must admit I couldn't have made a wiser choice had I spent hours doing research to find the perfect advocate for my divorce.

Though I hadn't a clue what my lawyer babbled on about, and not that I cared in the least about interim or final decrees, his legal expertise impressed me. What I cared about though was what I didn't have any more. I'd lost everything I held precious. My husband-the man of my dreams-respect, my way of life and the roof over my head. My loss was immeasurable.

It happened so quickly. If there were signs everything was about to come crashing down around my ears, I hadn't seen them.

I remembered the day as if it were yesterday. "Suzanne, there's something I need to tell you," George, my husband of fifteen years, said to me as the sun pitched spears of light through the mini-blinds in the kitchen window.

I stood with my back to him at the sink in my ratty old chenille robe, bunny slippers, my hair looking like a bird's nest and yesterday's mascara streaking my cheeks. I recognized the urgency in his voice. It was the same tone he used when he told me he was being transferred.

I turned and leaned back against the cabinets.

"Come sit," he said as he hauled out a chair from the table.

I sauntered over and sat rigidly still, hoping for the best but fearing the worst, staring at the rice crispies in my cereal bowl as they snapped, crackled and popped.

"I'm not in love with you anymore," George said.

I looked up, smoothed back my hair, then rubbed at the dried mascara on my cheeks. "I'm not looking my best this morning, Hon. Once I shower-"

George took my hand in his and shook his head.

I looked down at his perfectly manicured nails and slender fingers and remembered his gentle touch and the feel of his hands on my body.

"Is this because of the extra pounds I've gained?" I asked.

George smiled. "No, it's not that."

"What is it then?"

"I've met someone. Someone with whom I want to spend the rest of my life."

"You've met someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with?" I parroted. "What about until death do us part? Huh, George? The vow you made to me before God, before Father Stearns, before our family and friends. Huh, George?" I screeched.

"Suz, he's-"

"I hope this early morning appointment wasn't a hardship for you."

"Whaaat!" I took a moment to compose myself. "I'm sorry, Mr. Roderick. My mind drifted for a moment. What did you say?"

"I said I hope this early morning appointment wasn't a hardship for you."

I didn't consider getting up at six-thirty in the morning to be on time for an eight o'clock appointment a hardship. What I considered a hardship was not having a car at my disposal and learning, not for the first time, that my degree in political science would get me nowhere fast in the unemployment line.

"Has everything been explained to your satisfaction, Mrs. Hanley? Do you have any questions?"

Oh, I had questions all right. How can a woman be married to a man for fifteen years and not know him at all? How could a man who I loved so dearly hurt me? How did a man make love to his wife and not know he preferred same sex? How will I go on now that I don't have George anymore? How could life go on?

But life went on, didn't it? I was still young and could still find love again, couldn't I? I told myself I managed to keep a gay man straight for a good number of years; I should take some sense of accomplishment in that.

"No, none. Where do I sign?"

Douglas Roderick turned the documentation toward me and pointed. "Here, here, and here."

I took the pen from my lawyer's outstretched hand and in a neat school script signed away my past.

Sandra says: I am a para-legal who decided to try my hand at writing. I recently finished my first novel and thereafter wrote two short stories, one of them being Autumn Leaves.
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