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Freewrite Friday: ‘Jessica’

Welcome to Freewrite Fridays!

A blog series where I share pieces of flash fiction from different perspectives of a family I’m writing!

Their stories span several decades, so each Freewrite will be dated somewhere along the timeline–and I’ll post an updated family tree with every Freewrite, to help situate the characters and timing. I’ll also be using one writing prompt from Jamie Cat Callan’s The Writer’s Toolbox, and one from the Storymatic, every time–just to make the Freewrites even freer!

Check out the Freewrites Masterlist here! (And a masterlist of Flashbacks, pieces I wrote ages ago and am now revisiting, here!)

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This month, the last in a three-part series: ‘Jessica’, with the prompts ‘end of the relationship’ and ‘he swore on his mother’s grave, but then he swore on just about everything’!

[See part one (from the POV of Jessica and Elliot’s son, Robert), here; and part two, from Elliot’s POV, here!]

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1994

Jessica

Jessica couldn’t have put a finger on the exact moment she knew her marriage was over.

It happened over a series of years, months, moments. When she realised her husband didn’t eat until she cooked for him. When he walked thoughtlessly out of his job after a tiff with his boss, even though he’d encouraged her to quit her job to raise their son. The times he burped and laughed like it was a novelty, or sat in front of the television with his hands down his pants all Sunday, and didn’t so much as thank her for keeping the house running entirely on her own. The times he forgot their anniversary, and Valentine’s Day, and to celebrate her, the mother of his child, on Mother’s Day—even though she’d gotten him mugs with their son’s tiny handprint printed on for Father’s Day. Maybe even their wedding night, when he had a little too much fun at the reception and had to be carried, unconscious, to their wedding bed by his brother.

The first time he stormed out after an argument and stumbled back in, half-cut, waking up their toddler. Years later, when she realised their four-year-old son had cried himself to sleep hearing them argue, and a part of her heart shattered into irreparable pieces.

She couldn’t place the moment she knew. It built slowly, over the years, the months, the moments. Realising she didn’t prioritise his company; she organised her day around her son, and once he’d gone to bed, went for a long bath instead of sitting down with her husband. Becoming glad when he went out of a night, or a weekend, so she could have peace and quiet instead of tension and arguments. Planning bank holiday celebrations with her parents and her son—and then realising she’d stopped thinking of Robert as theirs, but hers.

It made her toy with daydreams of what it might be like, to get divorced. To move somewhere new, fresh of bad memories, to raise her son. To feel free.

She couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment her marriage ended, but she knew it was long before she finally brought it up to Elliot, and he fumed and raged and stormed out—only to return in tears, begging her to change her mind, promising he’d change, swearing on his grave, her life, their son.

Their marriage was over long before she gave him the second—second millionth—chance he cried for; only for him to waste it, two weeks later. He could swear on anything and everything, but he would never change.

But she could.

For herself, she would.

For her son, she did. When she thought about it afterwards, it was to think: maybe it didn’t matter if she could pinpoint the exact moment her marriage ended. Maybe all that mattered was that it had.

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Updated family tree!

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