When I saw the smug look on Scoggins' face, I couldn't stand it anymore. The words were mashing together in my head, like a jigsaw with pieces that didn't match. Or like loud gunshots firing repeatedly.
She brought up every messy detail of my life like it was a soap opera to be displayed in front of millions. The accident, my mother…
As I stare at Maria, it's easy to read the feelings of discomfort in her gaze. I couldn't care at that moment. The anger comes suddenly, and it needed an outlet that didn't involve tearing into the woman who'd torn my life to shreds. Who slowly scattered the pieces of my life to the vultures. The flow of words from Scoggin's mouth was never ending, they blurred into one another.
"Didn't she promise she wouldn't do it again…didn't you feel abandoned? Everyone leaves in your life…you can't be close to anyone can you because it's too scary… Who's to say you wouldn't leave them, who's to say you would be there for them if you've never been there in the past…I want to know! You've never dealt with any of your real problems Jack!"
I stood suddenly, grabbing the chair and hurling it with all my strength.
"ENOUGH" I heard my voice rise above the din that was Scoggin's incessant words. It felt distant.
But it was with the shattering of the window that all my rage, the pent up strength and conviction just dissipated. A sudden realisation crept over me, and I doubted my motivations, and my ability to look after my own children. My shoulders slumped and I was suddenly just tired. Tired and hurt.
I may have hurt her in the past, but I never thought Maria capable of this. This… this is not right. The silence is deafening in the aftermath of the shattering glass. But when her shriek of, "It was not an accident!" rang through the office, it just felt like the final straw.
"Are you happy now?" I asked. I know I cheated, I know we weren't happy. It's not hard to see. It doesn't really make a difference now. She's beaten me and we both know it.
"[you're] a part time husband, part time father."
There it was. The heart of the problem… The same thing I berated myself for all these years- more so for being a part-time father than a part-time husband. I was willing to give up my job, the one thing other than my family that means the world to me, to give it a go with her in Chicago and she threw it in my face like it means nothing. Maybe it did mean nothing.
'This is about you! You honestly think that you can be who you are, and raise children?'
'Yes I do' No, no I don't, but if I don't fight for them now- I'll never be able to prove to myself and my girls that I can.
Just like that… I'm wrong. Maybe she's right. As I step through the shattered window, the battle has already been lost.
In my office, I sit beside my father, and I see him curled on my couch, I have to wonder if we were ever fit to be fathers at all. He was in the army for most of my life, and I've been married to my job at the FBI for most of my daughter's. The irony of it is how I resented him for not being there. I guess my girls will grow up with the same feeling.
My conversation with Ed leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I wasn't going to fight, but I did want one more conversation with Maria.
I enter the room and Ed goes through the legal motions, but even as he asks me questions, I just don't answer. I look at Maria, her returning gaze is uncomfortable, but she sits there defiantly. She thinks she's doing what's best. If the situation had been different, I might have agreed with her.
'I'd like to speak to my wife…alone' I'm getting rather sick of the heated debates that seem to stir up with every word that comes from my mouth. It would be nice if there was just a quick response and that was the end. It wasn't jealousy that coursed through me when I noticed the protective hand Scoggins lays on Maria's arm, but resignation. I was tired, bitter and lonelier than I'd felt since returning to the FBI. It was like being back at the ever empty apartment that was no longer filled with happy squeals, and laughter.
Our conversation is short. Wasn't too much to say I guess. What do you say to her after that?
'The girls still need their father Jack…'
They need me so much; you're willing to take them to another state so I won't see them for months on end. That's how much they need me. I'm sure Scoggins will make for a much better father, a much better husband. Much better everything.
I tried, didn't I?
As Maria leaves, the urge to collapse into a sobbing heap on the floor is overwhelming. The last opportunity to see my girls in New York with me is gone. I lean my head back against the chair and close my eyes in order to fight the sudden nausea and panic.
My girls are gone.
Author's Note: Scoggins [Maria's lawyer] is a scumbag- just my personal opinion. On a more positive note [sort of], Jack has all these amazing facial expressions when he's upset, mad or resigned, this story was hard to pass up as I watched Malone v. Malone on the TV. Love it, hate it? Reviews are the food of opinion-hungry authors =]