It was stupid. He knew it was stupid. But he couldn't not do it. He just couldn't.
He knew that he could have stayed home, filled everything out, shoved it in the envelope and gone to bed to watch Letterman. Then he would have gotten up the next morning and drove into work as if it had been just another Monday.
But he couldn't not do something. You don't end a chapter of your life that significant without marking the occasion. Even if it is a terrible occasion and you're marking it in a uselessly destructive way.
Perhaps, he thought, if he knew of a better way to handle it wouldn't be happening in the first place. Perhaps if he was smarter he'd still be living in a nice house in the suburbs rather than his crappy apartment where the hallway always reeked of Indian food and the elevator was always broken. Perhaps if he was calmer he’d be able to keep company with more than just his cat who always seemed like he was judging him, though in a decidedly feline way. Perhaps if he’d taken the time to seriously think about it before committing to something legally, rather than trusting his heart and chocking the whole thing up to emotional logic, he’d be a different man now.
But he didn’t and he wasn’t and now he had no choice but to pay the price. Now he would have this mark on his permanent life record, a sign that no matter what else he did, no matter what he might eventually accomplish, he started out with a truly juvenile mistake. Now, right now, he was sitting in this bar, and this Monday night, with this pen in his hand and this paper in front of him. It felt like it whole life had been boiled down to some legal jargon that he couldn’t really understand, although his lawyer had explained it to him.
He looked around the bar, at the other patrons sipping their beer and watching the game. He wondered how many of them had done what he was about to do. He was happy that the Yankees were playing, he could at least pretend that’s why he was there. But he imagined his true reasoning was evident when the rest of the bar jumped up in an excited wave cursing at the pitcher or yelling at the player who got out and he just looked up with a perplexed expression. No, he wasn’t fooling anyone. Then again, no one really cared, anyway.
He looked back down at the paper. It remained as unsigned as it had been for the past hour. He looked at the clock. It was getting late. He should be home by now, asleep with this behind him, consoling himself that life would go on and there’d be chances for new beginnings and growth and all that crap.
But he sat there, pen in hand, paralyzed. It felt like a physical block in his hand as if some insect had crept up on him, quietly and mildly, and injected some neurotoxin into his system. Like this poison had come from some outside source and struck him down in his youth, making him incapable to performing one simple act.
But he knew that wasn’t the case, this was his paralysis, he inflicted it upon himself. He’d jumped in feet first without checking to see if there rocks on the bottom and now he was stuck on the shore with night falling and his ca parked way up the hill. It would be a long climb with broken limbs and that scared him enough that he wasn’t willing to admit that he was there.
He down the last of his beer and slammed the mug down on the table. This was bullshit, he wasn’t this weak. It was just a simple signature, a movement of the hand in an automatic way. It would be done in a split second and he’d walk of the bar and move on with his life.
“Just. Sign. It.” He told himself.
And he moved his hand above the paper, fixed his wrist and touched his pen down. Nothing happened. He took a deep breath, tried again. His hand gripped tighter and the pen slipped right out of his grasp. He bent down under the table to get and banged his head hard on the way back up.
“Damn it!” he cursed. No one bothered to look his way, all busy in their own curses at the outfielder who’d just dropped the ball and fumbled what should have been the last out of the inning.
“This is what happens you feel sorry for yourself, asshole” he chastised himself. He stretched his fingers, straightened his back, and picked the pen back up. “Just sign it.”
He placed the pen on the paper, straightened his wrist, closed his eyes, and moved his hand. And that was it. He opened his eyes and looked down at the paper. It was so simple, so insignificant, just more paperwork to be filed. There was nothing of the life they’d had together, the memories they would never make, the people they’d become now that this was over. It was just another signature on a simple piece of paper. And now he like every other asshole around, was divorced.
He slid the paper into the envelop and sealed it, paid his tab and walked out to his car. He didn’t let himself think anymore, let the automatic pilot take over and steer him home. He sang along to the radio without any connection to the words and thought about what his cat might be doing when he got home. And just for a second, he began to think that it wasn’t so bad. But then he glanced at the envelop on the passengers seat and choked. No, it was going to be a while before he was ok.