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Divorce of the Lamb

Ashlee Thigpen

 

Dark. It’s so dark in these halls. But there is light up ahead. We enter the room-the three of us. Joined by blood on one side, by events, legal documents on the other. Common purpose, an un-purpose really. A dissolution, an ending. No beginning. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to part company, to disjoin this marriage of her to…uh…him.”
            The room is strange. I’ve been here before. Jury duty, trial observation, sentencing…just to be nosey. I want to run from here now. If I close my eyes, I can be home on the back porch with a large glass of Chenin Blanc. Well, not at Mom’shouse. Maybe iced tea. At Dad’s I could get away with drinking some wine. For my nerves. Funny…it’s the same house. They are still married-34 years.
            But now I’m nervously attached to the wooden pew in this room. The marriage in front of me has been dissolved. Solomon in his black robe had pronounced judgment on that union. Do I look like white trash, too? God please don’t let me look like white trash! Daddy is sitting beside me. Silent. Happy this day is finally here. Patriarchal. I was given away two years ago and now I’m being reclaimed. Back into the fold. The little lost lamb. The black sheep once again. Damn it. I’m not just property…to be given and taken! Daddy, hold me! Tell me it will be better soon. Tell me someone will love me someday. Daddy, please don’t let him kill me.
Mom is happy today, too. Well, not really. This ceremony puts another nail in the coffin of the perfect daughter who never was. The dreams, the hopes, the plans…Baylor University, marriage to a minister, a lawyer, a doctor (virginity intact, of course!), two children, a beautiful home. Where did I ever fit into that movie, Mom?“Now playing at your local Baptist church. Admission price: your soul, your personality, your life.” I’ve killed her dreams for me more and more each year. If you don’t have a smile, take one from the basket by the front door when you leave the house. Happy? That’s not the question. Do you look happy? Mom, I don’t look happy today…is that a sin? I’m still a good girl, Mom. Really, I am.
God, don’t let me cry now. The white trash leave. Good. I don’t want witnesses to this humiliating show. No, don’t make me go to the front. Please let me stay in the shadows. The light is hurting my eyes. Clear light. So unlike the stained glass windows of two years ago. No rosy glow today. Just white and pure and hard. I walk slowly to the front. Nearer to Solomon. Raise my right hand? Help me, God! Which is right? “Marriage has become insupportable. No chance of reconciliation. Division of property as stated.” Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. When did my mother-in-law, “Glenda Goodwitch,” come into the room? Why is she crying? “You’ll never have a husband who loves you as much as my son does! It’s a sin to divorce. I’d rather see my son dead that divorced! This marriage was made in heaven and God is in control of it.” My dear, sweet Glenda: your son must not have read the eleventh Commandment…the one that says, “Thou shalt not call your wife a goddamn fucking bitch and threaten to kill her, saith the Lord.”
            Behind me the Roman-or is it Greek?-sculpted female bas-relief of Courage, Justice and Truth seem frozen. They are frozen. Help me girls! Hold me. God is late, again, and I need someone with me now.
I can see my attorney’s head exploding-red. ­Red on my black dress, my face, the alter, Solomon’s robe. He said this would never end. He will do what he said…”to serve and protect.” What’s mine is mine…you will never leave.
            But I’m leaving today. Solomon is handing me my ticket, all punched and approved. He gives me antiseptic for my wounds and it stings. But the sting is good. I can feel again. Thank you, Solomon.
            And it’s over. We’re over. No more us. No more. Enough. It is finished. Courage winks at me. Justice and Truth are unmoved, the bitches. Time for the reception. What? No flowers, no cake? No mixed nuts and pastel-colored mints?Yes, Daddy, Sonic is fine. Grilled cheese, medium Dr Pepper. Thanks. Yes, Daddy, I guess I did “graduate” today. Diploma in hand. That’s funny, Daddy. Yeah, I can check that off. Experience. Life.