Flash Fiction: Hits Different – Part 31

This entry is part 31 of 32 in the Flash Fiction: Hits Different

Written in 58 minutes.

“When the conservatorship is dissolved, we’ll ask Justus to draw up divorce papers.”

The words lingered in the air for long moment, Jason simply staring at Elizabeth as if she’d suddenly grown a second head. She wrinkled her nose. “That sounded dramatic, didn’t it? I’m sorry—”

“You want a divorce?” Jason said, furrowing his brow, trying to understand where he’d lost the thread of the conversation. He thought he’d been doing much better noting social cues from others — the way Luke always seemed just a little bit irritated with the world, or how Sonny hid his penchant for controlling others by maintaining an air of detachment or disinterest. And Elizabeth — he’d spent the most time with her and she wore nearly every emotion on her face, in her eyes, on her lips.

But a divorce? They’d been together for weeks, sharing the same bed, at the bar—just that morning—

“Not the way it sounds. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I said it that way.” Elizabeth kicked off her shoes, then padded into the kitchen, tugging open the fridge for a can of soda. “Maybe because I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks—”

Weeks. She’d been thinking about ending everything for weeks. His head swam and suddenly everything Jason thought he’d understood or even mastered since he’d woken up with nothing to call his own, not even his name. None of this made any sense—

But Elizabeth had continued talking, somehow unaware that Jason was having some sort of existential crisis just a few feet away.

“—and I’ve wanted to bring it up to you a thousand times, but I always lost my courage. I’m not even sure I’m explaining this well—” She cracked open the soda,  then turned and looked at him for the first time since she’d said. Something in his expression must have given it away. “I don’t—I mean, I don’t want us to stop—to stop being us.

“Maybe I don’t understand what divorce means then,” Jason said slowly. “Because—”

“I married Jason Quartermaine,” Elizabeth said, and he stopped. “A really nice guy who didn’t always stand up for me the way I wanted him to, but who loved me enough that I didn’t really notice it most of the time. We were happy, and I think—” She smiled faintly, looking at her rings. “I think we would have made it. A week ago, I wasn’t so sure about that. But you went to that lawyer and AJ—I’m glad I went. It gave me back that sweet boy, and I think I can let him go now.”

“But I’m him,” Jason said, a bit hesitantly.

“You are. But you didn’t want to be, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to be, either. I know that we’ve built something there that’s just ours, but I’m afraid—” She set the soda aside, then twisted her wedding ring again. “I’m afraid that I might always wonder just a little bit if you’re here because you were already sort of stuck with me and you like me well enough—”

Insulted, Jason opened his mouth to argue and defend himself, but she continued talking. “And you might wonder sometimes if I love you or who you used to be. Are we really here because we want to be?” She folded her arms, bit her lip. “I guess maybe I’m hoping we can give each other a fresh start. A real one. Justus said when this all started that we need to take this choice back for ourselves, and I’m glad I did. That I didn’t just let the Quartermaines steamroll over us. I know it hasn’t happened yet, but we’re going to win in court, and you’re going to be free. I want you to really be free, Jason.”

“I am free right now. I’m where I want to be,” Jason said, stepping towards her. “You don’t have to do this—”

“I believe you.” Her smile was nervous, but real when she closed the distance between them, slid her arms around his waist, loosely clasping her hands at the small of his back. “And I hope you believe me. But I never want there to be any questions.”

He didn’t hate the idea when she talked about it this way — all he’d ever wanted was to make his own choices, and hadn’t he come back to her a little bit because of the history they shared that he would never be able to reclaim.

“Lila told me once I had all the pieces of the puzzle of who I used to be, I’d have to decide which pieces to keep.” He reached for her hands, still wrapped his back and brought them up between them, looked down at the ring he didn’t remember giving her. The bracelet she wore that he had no memory of. “Son, grandson, brother, cousin, medical student, husband….father.”

“And what do you think now?”

“I think maybe none of those pieces are mine now,” Jason said finally. “Most of them don’t mean anything to me, but—” He looked past her to the shelf where the photo of Jason and Cady sleeping on the sofa, the one that had triggered a cascade of emotions that he’d only barely begun to understand. “But I’m only going to regret losing one of them. The rest — I could have if I want. But I don’t ever get to be her father again, and I’m sorry for it.”

“So am I. I envied you not remembering, not feeling this black hole in the center of your world—” Her voice faltered and he looked back, met her eyes. “It kept growing and growing, swallowing me whole, until there was no light left to remind that there was anything left to live for. I wished I could bash my head on a rock and just make it go away. But—”

He brushed a tear from her cheek using the pad of his thumb, and she leaned into his touch. “But it wasn’t a black hole after all. Just a shadow. Like the way night crawls over everything, disappearing the light and joy and good in the world. But eventually, the night ends. And I can remember the good. The way I felt when I was pregnant, her kicks—” Elizabeth pressed a hand to her belly. “I had nine more months with her, you know. I carried her everywhere and kept her safe. Then she was gone. And it took a long time for me to forgive myself for not keeping her safe anymore. I’m sorry you don’t get to remember her. The joy of waiting for her to arrive, the wonder at what we’d created, and even the despair of losing her. I’m so sorry I ever wished that I could lose that.”

She cleared her throat. “I think maybe that’s really why I want that fresh start. Why I need it. I hope you can understand it.”

“At the Quartermaines, they kept looking for who I used to be. For the Jason they wanted me to be. You did, too, in the beginning,” he said, and she nodded, bit her lip. “I thought I could just tell you that it was separate and have it be true. It was, mostly. But sometimes, yeah, I wondered if you’d be here if we hadn’t been married before the accident. If we had had these legal issues to deal with. So if you think getting a divorce will fix that, or help, we should do it.”

Elizabeth smiled, leaned up to kiss him. He cradled her jaw, deepening the embrace until she sank against him, and he had to wrap his arms around her to keep her standing. “But first, we have to finish what we started,” Jason said, stepping back slightly. “There’s still time to call the sky diving place—”

“I am never jumping out of plane. You can just forget about that.”

Across town, another father was standing in front of his family, with an announcement of his own. Monica sat on the sofa, her eyes rimmed with red, her mouth pinched, with a sour expression etched into her features.

“I’ve hired a lawyer of my own to represent me in the probate hearing,” Alan said, and Edward scowled, nearly pushed himself to his feet but a quick look from his wife stopped him.

Ned, lounging by the window, lifted his brows. “Why? You and Grandfather have a spat?”

“I won’t blame Monica entirely for what’s happened in the four or five months.” Alan smiled sadly. “The last few years. I made a judgment about Elizabeth, finding her to be unworthy of my son. Not good enough for the man I wanted him to be. I thought that as his father I had a right to weigh in on that decision, to press my thumb on the scales to achieve the outcome that I deemed just.”

“Spare me the speech,” Monica muttered.

“I didn’t give her a chance. She was barely good enough to be your friend, Emily, but to be a member of this family? To stand by Jason’s side as he took on the medical world and became a shining star? No. She couldn’t be. So I meddled. I schemed. I pushed, and I pushed Jason right out the door. Even before the accident, he could barely be here without one of us making a scene. I deprived myself of time that I will never get back. My son is never coming home.”

“This is all well and good, you know, but you owe an apology to Elizabeth,” Emily said, sitting stiffly in an armchair, her eyes stony. “A huge one.”

“I know that. I chose to believe Monica’s story that Jason wanted a divorce. I turned a blind eye to the ragged edges of her facts, and ignored how they didn’t quite fit together. They were good enough to confirm what I already believed, so I went after the power of attorney to maintain control of my son in he hospital. And when Father suggested we take this further, to protect Jason’s estate, to make his wishes permanent, I didn’t hesitate. I ought to have.”

He paused. “I’ll be asking my lawyer to petition to dissolve the conservatorship. I’m asking you, Father, to stand down. Not to object. Jason shouldn’t have to waste one more minute of his life fighting either one of us for the right to make his own decisions.” His lips twisted. “He’s been doing that too long.”

Edward made a face, but looked at Lila again, and inclined his head. “I’ll direct our lawyer to do the same,” he said finally. “Jason seems capable of making his own choices. Terrible choices,” he muttered, “but he’s capable nonetheless.”

“Mother?” Emily prompted when Monica said nothing. “Do you have anything you want to say?”

Monica just snorted, rose to her feet. “Why? And take some of the attention from Father of the Year? Jason would have seen her for the social climbing, gold digging bitch eventually, and turning control of his trust fund back over to him is a mistake—”

“I created that trust fund so that Jason would never have to beg for anything. When Father was poised to prevent Jason from having any piece of this family because he was born out a wedlock,” Alan said, giving Edward a dirty look. “I should have remembered that. How hard I had to fight to give my son the life, wealth, and name he ought to have been entitled to by birth.”

“If you think I’m going to apologize for using every resource at my disposal to do right by my son, you’ll be waiting until hell freezes over.” Monica lifted her chin. “I did what I did for the right reasons, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. Do whatever you want. Just don’t blame me when it all goes horribly wrong.”

She left the room then, and Emily just said. “You know, I’m glad I’m adopted. And that Jason is — at least on his mother’s side.” She got to her feet. “I love you all, I really do. But there are days when I’m glad your blood doesn’t run through my veins.” She looked at her father. “You’re doing the right thing, Dad, but it’s too little too late. Jason will never forgive you for this.”

“I know. But it’s the only way I know how to right any of these wrongs. I’m sorry, Emily, that we so often fail to live up to the family you deserve.”

“Yeah, well, I guess life could have been worse. I could have ended up adopted by the Manson family,” she muttered, and left the room.


“You have to know when to fold,” Edward said gruffly. “Better to retreat then to be beaten with witnesses. We’ll lose in court. At least this way, I don’t have to sit in front of a judge and listen to a lecture. Put your lawyer in touch with mine. We’ll get it done.”

A few days later, it was Tuesday night, one of the slower nights at the club. Elizabeth didn’t need a second bartender on shift, but Jason thought he was beginning to wear her down on sky diving lessons and had shown up after the happy hour rush with new facts to convince her.

“Fatalites occur in less than 1 per 100,000 cases,” Jason said, sliding the pamphlet over to her. “And serious injuries are 2 in 10,000—”

“See, that second thousand number is much smaller — and someone has to be the one or the two.” Elizabeth leaned over the bar, smirked at him. “You are never, in a million years, getting me on one of those rinky planes thousands of feet in the air—”

“But just think about how much better the rush will be,” Jason argued. “The wind roaring in your ears, so loud you can’t think—you don’t think that’s worth the risk?”

“I like going fast. On the ground—”

“Skydiving is statistically safer than driving—”

“I told you teaching him to read would be a mistake,” Luke quipped, a cigar sticking out of one side of his mouth. He came past Elizabeth to pour himself a glass of whiskey. “Kid, when are you going to give it up—”

“I just haven’t found the right facts.” Jason looked at a different brochure, scanning it. Elizabeth snickered, went to the end of the bar to fill an order.

Luke followed her. “When are you going to put that boy out of his misery and go on the plane?”

She rolled her eyes, pressed the button for the blender. After she’d delivered the margarita to the customer, she looked at her boss. “What makes you think I’m going to fold?”

“Darlin’, I’ve known you way too long. You’re going to cave.”

She shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out someday.”

“Skydiving,” Jason began when she returned to his side of the bar, “is safer than driving—more than three million people go skydiving every year—” he broke off when Justus slid onto the stool next to him. “Hey. I thought we weren’t meeting you until tomorrow.”

“Got a late note from the court.” Justus tossed a sheaf of legal papers on the bar. Jason picked them up, his eyes widening.

“Is this what I think it is?”

Elizabeth leaned over. “What?”

“Petition to dissolve the conservatorship filed by Alan and Edward—they both caved?” Jason wanted to know.

“Yeah, I thought for sure we’d get a dramatic scene when we had mediation in a few days. You didn’t even get to confront Monica with what we found out from AJ. And now you don’t need to.” Justus made a face. “I was kind of looking forward to seeing the face crack when she realized we were on to.”

“Feel free to do it on my behalf, but I don’t need to tell Monica it was a lie. She knows it was. I know it was. And it wouldn’t make me feel better.” Elizabeth shrugged. “She’ll just defend herself. But you said Ned was asking the right questions, and Alan must have had his doubts.”

Justus looked at Jason. “It’ll take a week for the hearing, but it’s basically over. The court isn’t going to hold you to something that even the conservators don’t want. Do you want to schedule a meeting with the Qs?”

“Why? I wanted them out of my life. You’re making that happen. As long as Elizabeth gets her money back, I’m good.”

“Well, you’ll need to sign papers for the trust fund—”

“I don’t want that,” Jason said immediately. “Any of it. Tell them to keep their money. And everything else—”

“Well—” Justus lifted his brows. “You did say you were hoping to get a little revenge on the family for the way they’d treated Elizabeth.”

“What?” Elizabeth blinked, looked at Jason who just returned her look a bit defiantly. “When did you say that?”

“A while ago. And yeah, I do. Why, do you have any ideas?”

“Oh. I have a few. And if Sonny’s around, maybe he’ll be interested in what I have to say.”

“I do like a plot twist,” Luke decided. “Let me go get him.”

“While you’re cooking that up,” Elizabeth said to Justus, “can you make time to do something else for us?”


“Divorce papers,” Jason said. He laid a hand over Elizabeth’s on the bar. “And a name change.”


  • I was hoping that Elizabeth was thinking it would be a fresh start with the divorce papers. I like that they are going to start over as who they are now and at their own pace. I’m conflicted, while I am happy that Alan and Edward are seeing reason, I sort of wanted to see Monica’s face crack. But there is still a chapter left so there is still time for a public crash and burn for her. Loved Emily’s steadfast devotion to our couple. Ned is a hoot always poking the bear and providing a running commentary. Interested in seeing what Justus is cooking up for a bit of revenge. Fantastic update.

    According to nanci on April 10, 2024
  • Thank goodness you explained the divorce. Their talk was so deep, sad and needed. I do feel bad for Alan because he seems truly upset by his part in messing with his son’s life. Monica is one nasty woman! What does Justus have planned that involves Sonny? I can’t wait. I laughed at Luke’s comment about teaching Jason to read. She’s hoping to jump out of a plane. Lol. I’m going to miss this story.

    According to arcoiris0502 on April 10, 2024
  • Oops! I meant that Elizabeth is going to jump out of a plane for Jason. Lol

    According to arcoiris0502 on April 10, 2024
  • I was right , you just made us wait till the next instalment. Liz did explain why she wanted a divorce. The plot thickens, what do they want to do will Sonny?

    According to leasmom on April 10, 2024
  • Thank you for that clarification about the divorce.
    Jason should take the trust and give it to Elizabeth or set something up in Cady’s name.
    I cheered for Emily.
    Monica will choke when she finds out what AJ told them.
    can’t wait for the end

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on April 10, 2024
  • Congratulations on the work front! What a relief for you! This was a great story. I enjoyed it so much!

    According to Golden Girl on April 10, 2024
  • Maybe Jason and Elizabeth will jump out of the plane to celebrate winning the court case. I really liked what Emily told the family.

    According to Carla P on April 11, 2024
  • I can’t wait for Jason and Liz to be jumping out of a plane. What Justus have in mind to get rid of the Q’s.

    According to Shelly Samuel on April 11, 2024
  • I’ve read Emily telling off the Q’s several times and I keep wanting more. Catharsis! And someone needs to slap Monica. I want her more unhappy. Can Alan divorce her? Or take the house back? I dunno. She’s the worst. I love that Elizabeth gets to find out that Jason wants some revenge on her behalf. My opinion of Jason Q has improved greatly since I started reading this story, but it’s still great to see him fight for her.

    According to Mariah on April 20, 2024