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Witnesses in Family Law

Two people occupy space in a house. They speak to each other as infrequently as possible. If they exchange glances, it is with smoldering stares that could melt lead. Their days as a couple are numbered, though neither has admitted it to themselves and certainly not the other. Separation is immanent. Divorce isn't far behind. They have family law in their futures.

"I hope you paid the mortgage today," the husband presses.

"It was due.  D'uh, I paid it," she responds.

"You always forget to pick up Abby from day care on your days," she rejoins.  "Don't forget tomorrow."

"I get caught up at work. I have a real job," he counters.

Their lips nearly curl in their mirrored snarls. She turns away.

"Real jobs make real money," she retorts, her back now to him.

He mouths her words, mockingly, finishing with a voiceless "bitch" just for effect.

"I do well enough to take care of you, to take care of Abby," he asserts.

"You don't do jack to take care of Abby," she fires back.

Since she's only recently started walking, Abby sits on the floor holding a red square block and a blue circle block. Her wide brown eyes stare up at her mother and father. She absorbs family law in real time.

"I take care of Abby at least as well as you.  At least I don't slam down two vodka martinis as soon as I get home," he accuses.

"You drive me to drink, you bastard," she cries.

Abby stays still, soaking in everything, witnessing, experiencing, learning.

Michael Manely

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