Short Story Sunday: “Settlement” [308]

Short Story Sunday 308: "Settlement" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

As much as Marin was nervous for this meeting, she was going to do her best to remain positive about how it would turn out. She didn’t want to admit defeat before anything started and she certainly didn’t want everyone in the room to think she was afraid.
So, she walked through the parking as though she were on top of the world. Well, she stood tall at least. If anything she might have looked like a snob with her nose stuck up in the air but that didn’t matter. Marin only cared about how one person felt about her and it wasn’t any of the strangers she passed in the parking lot or who drove her.

She entered the office with her head held high. She passed the lobby without needing to talk to the receptionist – she knew exactly where she was going. Unfortunately, she had been there one too many times already.

Marin didn’t know how her life got to this point and she wished it hadn’t. However, now that it had come down to this, she needed to stick up for herself. She had lost everything because she didn’t have much of a backbone. She felt bad for the situation so she didn’t care if she was left with anything at all. However, now she actually had nothing because she gave it all away. There was no way he was going to take the apartment as well.

She couldn’t be homeless with nothing to her name. That wasn’t fair to her at all. She was done playing nice.

When Marin made it to the third floor where the divorce attorney offices were, she drew in a sharp breath. She was fine, she could do this. She was going to walk in there and demand that she get to keep the apartment because she had given him everything else – even the things she bought with her own money. He took back one of the gifts he had given her because even though he never cooked, he knew he would for sure use an air fryer now that he was a bachelor again.

Marin seethed in the hall. She needed to calm herself down before she entered the office. She was a few minutes early. She didn’t think it’d be an issue if she paced outside the door for a moment or two to gather her bearings.

It wouldn’t be a big deal if she had asked for the apartment, right? Both of their names were on the lease and she knew they’d have to pay a fee for one of them moving out (a fee she didn’t mind taking care of if that meant he was gone). The bottom line was that it didn’t make sense for both of them to move out and have to find a new apartment. Marin knew what he was going to say. He was given everything else from the marriage so it didn’t make sense for him to have to pack everything up and leave the apartment. It would be easier (for him) if Marin just packed up what little stuff she had left and moved out of the apartment. Plus, the apartment was originally his. He lived there before Marin had even me him. They dated for six months before eloping. Marin moved in with him and now… Now she regretted just about all the choices she had ever made in her lifetime.

With that logic and reasoning between herself and the voices in her head, Marin barged into the office and stood in the doorway. Everyone in the room – her lawyer, his lawyer, and him – stared at her. Marin immediately regretted walking in at that moment.

“Thanks for joining us,” her lawyer said. “We’ve actually been talking about you.”

Marin felt her blood pressure rise. How could they start the meeting without her?

Her ex-husband stood from the table. “I already signed the settlement. We just need your signature and then we’re all set.”

Marin opened her mouth to retaliate. How dare they decide on something without her present!

Her lawyer raised a hand. “Hear him out.”

Marin was about to snap at him when her ex spoke up again.

“I realized none of this has been fair for you. We rushed into a marriage and it was fun while it lasted. I wish I could say I hope we keep in touch, but honestly…” he chuckled. “Anyway, I’m giving you everything. All the stuff you told me I could take, I’m giving to you. I mean, aside from the stuff I owned before we were married. The furniture, TV, the air fryer, other gifts I gave to you… it’s all yours. So is the apartment.”

Marin remained in the doorway with her mouth gaped open. She had to be dreaming, right? Maybe she had married the evil twin and the good twin was here to make things right?

“I talked to my brother and he said I can stay in his guest bedroom until I find a new place,” he continued. “I realize a lot of our problems from the marriage were my fault and I want to make sure you’re comfortable and taken care of. So, if that’s all okay with you, then please. Go ahead and sign.”

Marin felt tears form in her eyes and willed her emotions to stay in check. This was reason she had fallen in love with him in the first place. He could be a self-centered jerk, but he always came to his senses at the end. Even divorced, it seemed as though he cared and he still wanted to make sure things were not his fault. For once, he was taking responsibility.

She walked over to the table and picked up the pen. She glanced at her lawyer who nodded. Yet, she couldn’t find herself to sign it.

“I feel like this isn’t right. You should have something,” she said.

She cursed herself for saying anything at all. She knew she was too nice for her own good at times, but… how could she let things end like this?

Her ex shook his head. “Please? We’re already losing a friendship because we rushed into things. I’d rather just get this over with and be happy knowing that you’re taken care of.”

*

Marin got back to their – well, her – apartment. She had signed the papers. Everything was going to be processed and approved in a few months. The apartment was dull and quiet when it was just her there. She couldn’t tell if he truly did care or if he just didn’t want to deal with being in the apartment alone. Still, this was his apartment for about ten years. Marin couldn’t imagine him being able to give this up so easily.

After lying in bed that night and going through the following day as normal as she could, she realized something else. Her ex didn’t give up the apartment because he wanted to make sure she was taken care of, as he claimed. There was another reason.
Everywhere Marin looked, something was his. The apartment smelled like him. The apartment held a number of memories of the two of them – some good and some bad. Everywhere she looked, she was reminded of him and her heart broke all over again.

That was the reason he didn’t want to stay.

They hated each other, but they hated this situation more. Marin couldn’t help but smile. Well, it seemed as though he did like her a little bit.

She picked up her purse and headed out of the apartment. Without a second thought, she’d tell the leasing office she was moving out.

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