From the second she got to the hotel, Michelle steeled herself every time her phone rang. Nine times out of ten it was about work, but she kept expecting it to be that call.
She let the phone ring twice before glancing at the caller ID. Right about then she thought her heart may have stopped beating. Bracing herself, she answered with a quiet "Hello?"
"Do you want to tell me why I was just served with divorce papers?"
Michelle closed her eyes. He was angry, of course. Anyone would be, and Tony was always angry these days. Then he would get drunk, and the anger would turn into something else, something that Michelle couldn't name and didn't like. "I think it's pretty self-explanatory," she told him.
"You didn't even give me a warning," Tony accused.
"Tony, the last six months have been the warning. You were just too drunk to notice."
"I can't believe you're doing this. I can't... You couldn't even tell me in person?"
"I didn't think you would listen." The truth was she knew how much harder leaving would be if she did this in person. Nothing he said would have convinced her to stay, but she wouldn't have been able to handle the visual memory that would go along with the words that would undoubtedly run over and over in her head.
"I'm listening," Tony bit out. "Now what did you want to say?"
"I can't do this anymore, Tony."
"Why not? You're not gonna even try to work it out? Did you miss all your freedom when I got out of prison?"
She wasn't aware when she'd gotten to her feet, or when she'd started pacing the room, but she felt she had to do it just to keep from yelling. She didn't want to yell. She'd done enough of that and it never made a difference. "No, I was too used to who you used to be," Michelle said coldly.
"There's no way I could go through that and not change. I can't help that," said Tony.
"You don't need me around. I can't do anything to help you when all you do is mope and drink all the time. You have a problem, but instead of doing something about it, you'll let it get worse and worse. I can't sit by and watch you do that to yourself, since you won't listen to me."
"So you leave."
"What choice do I have?"
"Not to leave!"
"You're dragging yourself down, and I know I can't stop you, but I can't get pulled down, too," she said.
"I did all of this for you, Michelle," Tony reminded her.
There it was. The thing he considered the trump card, and it had been, once. "I know," Michelle sighed. "And then you threw it all away."
He didn't respond at first. "You can't hold a job-"
"Is that what this is about?" Tony snapped.
"It's part of it! I'm supporting you, and I can't even talk to you anymore."
There was another silence, and Michelle stopped pacing. She could practically see him on the other end of the line, slumped in one of the kitchen chairs and staring at the refrigerator. He wouldn't move towards it just yet, because he didn't want to give her the satisfaction of hearing him open a bottle.
"When I get back to LA, I'll pick up my things," Michelle said. She knew it would sound vicious, but continued, "I would appreciate if I could pick up the divorce papers then, too."
"I'm not signing those papers," Tony said stubbornly.
She wanted this conversation over. It was starting to hurt more and more, and telling him her feelings wasn't helping because it wasn't going to do any good. They could have this same argument over and over again and nothing would change. "You can't keep me around by not signing them," she replied. "I don't want to be around anymore."
He hung up on her. Back in LA, the fridge had probably just been opened.
Michelle put the phone down, taking a deep breath and refusing to cry. She'd done enough of that, and she refused to do it again. She knew she was hurting him, but she'd been the one who had tried, and it wasn't worth it anymore. All she could do was hope that this would serve as his wakeup call, and that she could get on with her own life.