"I want Paris!" Margo shouted.
"Well you can't have it!" Todd yelled back.
Todd's cheeks flushed, Margo's eyes glinted hard. Both sat glaring at each other across the table after the exchange.
The chairs were leather, the table mahogany. The rest of the furnishings were equally as severe. The lawyers went with the decor. They could have been brothers, or clones, in black and blue pinstripes. Both sat impassively and watched the exchange.
So once again it came down to Paris. It always came down to Paris, this had been the issue for weeks. This moment, repeated over and over again. Once again they were at an impasse, as the negotiators said in their legalese.
They'd gotten through all the crap that no one really cared about: the cars, the house, the cottage at the beach. The bank accounts had taken longer, but really that wasn't an issue for either of them. Both had good jobs and neither would have trouble paying the bills. There were no children (thankfully, depending on which lawyer you asked) so that made some things simpler.
Then had followed the hard parts. The stuff no one wanted to talk about, but knew was coming. This is where fires were lit, daggers twisted, wounds torn open, and scars reapplied. Neither Todd or Margo was prepared for it, but the lawyers, having been through this before, knew the sensible way to proceed. So they'd started from the end and gone backwards. That was really the best way to do it when negotiating memories.
Those final years had been bleak empty ones, more than either of them had realized. They'd stepped back through 47 months before either of them found anything. Margo had wanted the last week with her mom, Todd didn't object. 16 more months and Todd wanted a night at the ballpark with his brother, Margo was fine with that.
Five more months and they came to the last big Christmas with the families. They'd both wanted it, but the party had been at Margo's family home, so Todd gave it up in exchange for a Fourth of July the year before. He'd always enjoyed that holiday more anyway.
Vacations were divided up without too much fuss. Todd got Miami, and New York (the second trip). Margo got Aspen, and their third time in San Francisco. The rest they divided up without much interest.
Neither had wanted the memories of buying their home (too much baggage there), the funeral for Todd's father, or the cancer scare Margo had gone through. Those would be dumped by both.
Todd took the honeymoon -- 'typical', Margo said under her breath -- and Margo, got the wedding. Todd had always said that had been her day, never theirs.
So after back and forths, arguments, agreements, and settlements, it had come down to this. To Paris.
They'd met in Paris long ago, when they were both young and wide eyed and in love with life. They'd fallen equally in love with each other and spent a long glorious summer there together. Both loved those memories more fiercely than they loved each other. Maybe more than they ever had, but certainly more than they did now. Only their disdain for each other might rival the strength of feelings that bound them to that city in those days.
The laywers had come prepared for this. There was always one memory. Sometimes a vacation, a birth of a child, or a small moment that would deadlock things. Being the professionals they were they had their tactics, methods, and techniques to resolve such issues. None of them had worked. Lists hadn't worked, talking it out hadn't helped, pros and cons had resulted in shouting and a thrown pen, a rather expensive one at that.
So now, once again, here they sat with water warming untouched in crystal glasses while suits lost their crispness and emotions their clean edges. One memory stood between them all and freedom, or the end, depending on who you asked.
Todd sighed, Margo frowned. Both lawyers gave each other that slight twist of their lips that said they were screwed, but screw it, they got paid by the hour. The large brass clock on the wall ticked over to 7 PM, as if emphasizing this point. Both lawyers made ticks on their legal pads. Another hour in the books and in their wallets.
Perhaps it was the small motion (Todd had never enjoyed the company of lawyers), or the late hour (Margo had a party to attend), but for the first time in days they both looked at each other. Glances got past glares, and stares past sneers, and they both looked each other in the eye.
Todd cleared his throat.
"I don't want you to have Paris, not without me," he said, managing to keep his voice even.
Margo didn't lash out immediately. She took a breath before speaking.
"I just don't want you any more," she said, her voice under control. "I love Paris, but not you. Not any more."
It hurt to hear that, it was clear in Todd's eyes, but he nodded.
"I'll leave Paris, if you will," he said softly.
Margo drew a deep breath, started to say something, then stopped.
She looked at the lawyers, the table, the room, her hands, then back up to Todd.
"We both let it go?" she asked.
Todd nodded once slowly.
"Okay," Margo said quietly.
The lawyers sprang into quiet efficient action. Assistants suddenly appeared through doors carrying thick documents. Both lawyers signed them and passed them to their clients. Todd and Margo signed without really looking. Their eyes were on each other and they were suddenly tired, exhausted. As if they'd both run a marathon and come up short.
In the end neither of them would have Paris, and neither was okay with that. But they would in time. The chairs with the drugs in the next room over would see to that. They always had before.
YOU ARE READING
Mindnado ExpressShort Story
These sci-fi, fantasy, and horror flash fiction stories bounced around in my head long enough to survive brainstorming and wound up scribbled down out here in the wild. Enjoy.