As he sat in the courtroom he could almost taste victory. After almost a whole year he could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. He was going to get all of his conditions from his soon to be ex-wife. With a telling smirk sneaking through, about the corners of his mouth  he adjusted his tie. He had to play his role so he cleared his throat and tried to look as morose as possible as his lawyer made all the appropriate arguments in front of the judge. He briefly stole at glance at his wife. She was practically steaming. His inner laugh was mirthless. He wasn’t hurting for money but he enjoyed watching her squirm. His plan was working, why shouldn’t he be happy about it?

When they married twenty-four years prior they’d signed a prenup, a rather unusual move in both their respective families but their father’s had thought the move prudent. They would keep whatever they made during the course of their marriage and evenly split any joint accounts and properties but, the caveat was that the prenup was only binding for twenty years. After which the prenup was null and void. In the months that had pasted since proceedings began he had thanked his lucky stars that his father had pushed for the clause.

In the beginning he was the major bread winner. His wife had gone to college, taken care of the children, and managed the household. He grudgingly admitted that she’d handled it all impeccably. He never had to wonder about anything because she’d handled all the details.

However, over time the marriage had begun to wane. She’d gained a few but that wasn’t an issue really. The problem was that she’d come up in the world. She was a rising star in the legal field, her income rivaling his own and she wasn’t done! She’d branched off into flipping houses, becoming an investor in several properties. He felt slighted. He’d grown accustomed to being the unquestioned head of the household. As the majority breadwinner what else was he supposed to be? He consulted with her on his major decisions but had become accustomed making everyday decisions without her so when she began making more money and asking questions about their investments and how the money was handled it galled him.

Stealing another glance he noticed she was looking paler. Her once rich mocha skin seemed pale and her glow was gone. She’d lost weight as well. Her vibrant red suit emphasizing just how swallow she looked, she was practically swimming in the suit! She was looking much older than her forty-six years required. He relished it.

Her attorney was about to speak. Now that was a woman. Her cool, calm, demeanor and the fervor in her voice created the perfect juxtaposition for who she was as a woman. All that passion trapped inside an ice cold court persona. He loved it and fancied himself in love with her as well. He was so enrapt with his day dreaming that he barely registered that his wife’s attorney had ceased speaking and that his wife was now speaking.

As her words slowly hit home he stared in disbelief. She was bowing out! She was telling to judge he could take it all…everything…she just wanted this to be over. The murmurings in the background from their friends and family, most of whom sat on her side, were furious. She’d had enough, if he wanted it, he could take it. He couldn’t believe what she was saying and then their eyes locked. He expected ice. Perhaps fire or even traces of resentment at having lost the game. Instead all he found was a placid expression. No traces of anger, bitterness, or resentment. Just calm acceptance, burning a hole straight through him.

He wasn’t prepared for that. In shock, he listened as his attorney rattled off the list he’d made in anger eighteen months ago barely registering the bang of the gavel. He didn’t feel the congratulatory slaps on the back from his attorneys, didn’t feel it as they led him through the door, didn’t acknowledge the angry retorts from his children.

What he did hear was his wife, ex-wife, wish him well. Promising that the desired property would be transferred solely to him and that she would be leaving the home that they had shared. She hugged him…he felt the warmth of her body and felt the wetness of her tears on his face. Guilt, previously unknown to him now washed over him. Gone was the resentment he’d felt towards her from stealing his place in the sun, in its place was heaping dose of shame, smallness, and the stark reality of what his life would now become. He walked slowly to his car and wept. He’d won but somehow felt like he’d lost.