Always With a Smile

The ride back from the court was unnerving to the point that Maria almost screamed. Her now ex-husband sat next to her quietly, staring out of his window and occasionally rubbing his hands together and coughing lightly. She wished that she were already at his new apartment so that he would finally be out of her life for good.

What had started as a wonderful relationship in college where they met in a Literature class and were soon married had slowly turned into the classical non-romantic relationship, and had been going downhill for quite some time. At first they merely began to talk less and less to each other; Jonathon had been promoted to Assistant Manager of a very important Department of MBNA and had been spending more and more time in the office and less time at home, and Maria was busy with her job at the ToysNtoTs Daycare center down the street.

The lack of communication slowly turned into distrust, and Maria began noticing that Jonathon was suddenly keeping a close watch on her, as if he could no longer trust her loyalties. Soon he had taken to insulting her and scolding her daily to the point where Maria began working overtime just to stay out of the home, and would have to creep back into the house late at night after spending the night in the office dealing with the Daycare's finances. She decided that this would pass, just a fluke in the relationship that would be over soon enough, but the verbal abuse continued nonstop for weeks.

Finally the day came when she had to choose between living with the husband that she still loved, or leaving him behind for a better life. That day he had turned to physical violence, and she would not stand for a life of abuse.

"Where were you today after work Maria? I thought you were getting off early today." Jonathon asked from his seat. Maria turned away from the sink, her hands still soapy from the dishes she had been washing, startled.

"I was out with Betty at the mall.. she asked me to help her find some new clothes." Maria wiped her hands with a paper towel and turned off the water.

"And you expect me to believe that? I've been watching you stay out later and later for the last two weeks and you expect me to believe you've just been out with your friends?" Jonathon looked at her with a new malevolence in his eyes that she had never seen before, and his voice held a dangerous edge that alerted her to his growing anger.

"I'm not cheating on you Jon, if thatís what you're thinking. I would never do that." And it was true, she had never even thought of cheating on him during their three year marriage.

"Donít lie to me! Who is it? Tell me!" Suddenly Jon was in front of her, pinning her arms behind her back as her eyes widened in surprised and she let out a terrified shriek.

"Iím not lying!!" She yelled, and Jon retaliated by slapping her on the face hard enough that she fell to the floor. She lay there on the floor quietly weeping and hoping that Jonathon would not hurt her any further. She waited for a blow, but none came.

Jon knelt in front of her, the anger in his eyes nearly gone and replaced by shock and concern. He looked bewildered that he had taken his anger out on her.

"Maria Iím so sorry, I donít know what came over me..." He went to wrap his arm around her shoulder and she angrily shrugged him away, wiping away the remains of her tears.

"I could take the verbal abuse Jon, but this is it, you've lost your chances." Maria stood up and wiped the dust off of her skirt, regaining as much of her composure as she could manage and looked indignantly at him as he looked up at her in shock from the floor.

"I want a divorce."

Now that the divorce was final, Maria felt a sense of relief beginning to wash over her, a peace that was only slightly spoiled by the presence of her ex-husband in her car. She pulled into the parking lot and popped the trunk, but did not say anything as he exited the car and grabbed his bags from her trunk and began lugging them into his new home.

With a smile, she locked the door to her car and pulled away from her old life and began driving towards her new one.