Hands shake, and she?s rewritten the same phrase over and over again. Scraps of paper litter her desk, and she tightens her grip on her pen.

This time her words will be legible, and there will be no damn wet spots on the paper to wrinkle it? or smudges of ink? or edges torn in a moment of absent mindedness where her distress finds an outlet.

She lets her eyes linger, and it was a mistake. A long line of mistakes, it seems, brought her to this point.

She bites her lip hard, and presses the top of the pen down, pulling the tip of the pen back. She turns over the two larger papers, and does her best to suppress the sob that claws up from her chest and to her throat. ?There?s no time for this?, she reminds herself of this mentally when she feels her self control is about to slip.

She hears the shout and she hastily gathers her precious scraps of paper, samples of her being, and holds them in her left hand with a vice grip. Her right hand grasps the long strap of her leather purse, and she is out the door.

It is bitterly cold outside, but she doesn?t seem to feel it. She finds herself in the car, belted in, and leaving her neighborhood before she knows it. These mechanical movements didn?t even command her attention until she realized that trees were moving past her. Everything appeared to be moving past her, even though she was really what was moving.

?What?s on your mind?? She jumps slightly in her seat at being spoken to. She averts her vulnerable eyes to the window. She can only shake her head. Pretending to be mute never did get her far though. The question is repeated, and she struggles to find her voice.

She sucks in a deep breath, keeping her eyes averted, though her hands clutch her precious papers tightly. Her knuckles turn white, though she is always careful not to wrinkle anything. Her voice shakes, and is thick with emotion and she feels the shameful burn and blur on her eyes. ?I feel like I am signing my divorce papers. Isn?t tha-,? Her voice dies, and she feels her heart hammer much too hard against her breast.

She shakes her head, violently this time, and one hand is convinced to leave the papers to rub away the irritations that now roll and race down her cheeks. It?s only to prevent them from causing damage and providing incriminating evidence.

She reigns in her voice and forces the words from her lips. ?Isn?t that ridiculous? This? This is it. I have no more reason. I am withholding nothing. I owe nothing.? She does not bow her head, but turns her eyes to the bland scenery again.

She reaches her destination and exits the car and enters the building. She hands an envelope and her papers to another, though part of her wants to reach back and snatch them away? They were hers! These were important parts of her! They meant something to her!

She stuffs her twitching fingers in her pocket, and her smile feels like a gash. She takes her receipt and instead of responding she gives the woman a nod. She turns on heel, sharply, and heads out the door.

She finds herself out of breath once she reaches the outside, though the distance from the counter to the door was less than ten feet. One hand clamps over her mouth, and she hangs her head. Her hair hides her eyes. She takes faint notice of how jerky her body?s movements seem to be.

She forces herself to be natural.

She appears to be looking for warmth and hiding her eyes from the harsh rays of the sun to any casual bystander.

She stays silent on the way home.

[I am not proud. I?m just following orders.]