She stood in front of the horse-shoe shaped table with the mountain of evidence she had gathered and his mothers standing beside her. Although she was terrified to speak in front of crowds she did speak in front of this crowd ,of suits and briefcases, without passing out. They were number 72 to speak before the pardon and parole board.
Almost the last in line.
Most of the day they had watched as case after case was rejected for parole. Most of those who presented the pardon and parole cases were attorneys but their attorney had not bothered to show up. He had told the man’s mother there was no chance for pardon or parole the day before.
She took the man’s mother with her, in her car, anyway the next day.
Before they entered the courthouse the man’s mother turned to her and said, “The girl who was in love with him came and pleaded on his behalf today. She claims he left you because living with you was more like living with another man that with a woman. She claims he told her you never wanted to cook or clean or have sex or be like a woman and that was why he left you for her.”
She hung her head. This was true but this was a man who was completely incapable of taking care of anyone but himself. Up to that point she had paid most of the rent and quit drinking and all those things BY HERSELF and STAYED WITH HIM and EVEN LET HIM bring the girl home and the he had chosen the girl over her and the girl had an accident with a baby that they called murder, even though it was not, and he had taken the blame from her because he loved her and once he was cuffed she had left him high and dry.
Her best buddy.
Her best friend.
She even loved him ‘like that’ once upon a time, before he left her for a girl 10 years younger who was still same brand of party animal he was, and went ‘straight’ in a world that left her so alone that death seemed preferable to life and IN SPITE of ALL THAT she was pursuing her degree and was already guaranteed a job as an adjunct professor at the local state college.
She stood up before the board and presented her evidence. her stomach lurched as a series of humiliating questions was given her; one by each member of the group.
“Do you promise to cook and keep the house if we leave him in your care?”
She looked at them all squarely and said, “Yes!” With her head held high and his mothers hand gripping hers under the podium.
“Do you promise to do your ‘wifely duties?”
“If you mean sex sir, yes I will!”
This series of questions seemed to be more important than the fact he was innocent and as they humiliated her she stood up anyway and answered every single question in the horse shoe shaped hell.
As she answered each question a wall built in her heart. She was being accused of not being woman enough to keep a man happy and out of trouble because of the testimony of the girl who had gone before her earlier in the day. Her heart became like a stone. She did not want to stay married to this man. All this she had done for him and…
…if he got out he wanted her to become like her mother.
Well if that was what he wanted he was going to have to become like her father!
They let him go and she gave him the terms that she had in her heart if she was to leave love, career and everything that had come to define her, in the dust of time for the sake of his release and he promised to be that man.
He really tried but he was not that kind of man.
Some years later she divourced him and cried while she drove away with her father who was still living. She had nothing at all to show for that moment honour…
…nothing at all but dust.