She couldn’t move. For the first time in 17 years Karen Walters was a free women yet she couldn’t move. The settlement papers had been signed and the divorce was now finally complete. Despite the cold December weather, she lay motionless outside; reclined in an aqua colored beach chair overlooking the foggy city skyline. Chicago, her birthplace, had a way of looking beautiful even in the darkest of times. Her right hand delicately held an embroidered wine glass while her left ashed a slow burning Newport. Out of bitterness she enjoyed an aged cabernet sauvignon she had been instructed to never open by her now ex-husband Roy. “Fuck Roy” she said aloud as she not so graciously tossed back another glass. How many was that? 5, maybe 7? Similar to the amount of bombshell secretaries Roy had hired in the last few years, she’d lost count.
There were more than a few that she could recall. Tiffany, Rebecca, a bunch of other scantily clad 20 something’s who were under qualified and underdressed. Roy Canton Jr. rarely kept a secretary on for longer than a few months. Simply kicked them to the curb once he was bored with them, or once he found a younger, sexier one. It had become a running joke in the office, an awful joke. Occasionally Karen would now wish that her relationship with Roy would’ve been as brief. At least it would have saved her the time, energy, heartache and pain. It was the time that hurt the most, she couldn’t get any of that back.
Prior to the revolving door of mini-skirts, Roy originally had a long time gatekeeper named Jodie of 8 years as he moved up the ranks. Jodie was there during his “good years” as Karen would call them, before all the bullshit started. The sweet hearted Jodie acted as almost a grandmother like figure, being extremely pleasant and helpful while simultaneously never taking any shit. Karen liked that about her, she was strong. She was also quite possibly the only person who sat at Roy’s desk that he hadn’t tried to sleep with. Jodie retired shortly after Roy was promoted to partner, and that’s right around the time when the all flood gates opened.
Taking a long drag of the nearly finished cigarette she let out a cough. Much like any occasional smoker Karen justified the times which were acceptable to smoke. “Only when I’m really stressed” she would tell her friends, but more so in efforts to convince herself. This situation she decided certainly warranted a smoke. Forget stress, she had declared it a full on existential crisis. Wine usually helped the stress, smoking usually helped the stress, but neither were doing the trick right now. The alcohol was only intensifying her emotions and the memories of her polarizing relationship were cutting deep.Karen had once read that the word nostalgia in greek translated to “pain from an old wound”. The definition made perfect sense to her now.