Characters/Pairing(s): Jocelyn McCoy
Summary: She just needed room to breathe.
It was an absolutely shitty thing to walk out on your husband and daughter, and Jocelyn McCoy knew it.
She had her excuses. She was young. Leonard was young. They didn’t know what they wanted. It happened so fast. It was unsurprising that no one believed her excuses, when Jocelyn couldn’t bring herself to believe them.
When she was a young girl, she thought all she wanted was to be a wife and a mother. She dreamed of a big Southern wedding, and drinking sweet tea with her husband and their kids, watching the sunset. She imagined taking holo-photos at her kids’ graduations and weddings.
Thing is, she never imagined what all the other days would be like. There were the sleepless nights with her crying child. There were the date nights that never happened, because her husband was working late, and she was too tired to do anything but sleep when he came home.
She didn’t get her big Southern wedding. It was planned in two weeks and held in her parents’ backyard, because she was pregnant and her mother wanted it to be done before Jocelyn started to show. She didn’t get her big wedding dress, because it would have been ‘obscene’ to wear a white wedding dress. Her dress was understated, and a shade of green in which she normally looked pretty good. On her wedding day, it reminded her of overcooked peas.
She spent their honeymoon throwing up in the hotel room bathroom. It seemed to fit, as they were staying in a pretty cheap hotel in Atlanta for a night before Leonard had to go back to work.
Joanna was born, and she was a joy. Except when she cried all night, and Jocelyn was lucky to get three hours of sleep out of every twenty-four. Leonard slept eight hours a night. Jocelyn tried not to resent him; after all, she was staying at home with the baby, and Leonard had a career. But sometimes, he came home in the evening, and she was wearing yesterday’s clothes splattered with baby puke.
She had to give him credit. He did try to be romantic. It wasn’t his fault that she didn’t find a fancy dinner after a long day to be very romantic, especially when her mother charged them to baby sit Joanna.
Jocelyn put forward a good effort, she thought, for six years. But one day, she stood in her kitchen and surveyed her life. There were toys on the floor, and finger paintings tacked to every available surface. Joanna would come home from kindergarten soon, and Jocelyn would start dinner. Leonard would come home, have a relaxing dinner, and expect to have sex with his wife.
Any one of these things was fine, by itself. But each little part of her life, none of it having turned out the way she had imagined, seemed to close in around her until she couldn’t breathe. She had to physically brace herself against the kitchen counter and take several deep breaths before she could think about anything else.
Joanna came home from kindergarten with a new painting. This one had stick figures, labeled ‘Mommy,’ ‘Daddy,’ and ‘Joanna’ in her daughter’s five-year-old’s writing. They stood by a block house, with smiling faces. Even the sun was smiling. For a moment, Jocelyn thought she might be sick. But instead she smiled, tacked the painting next to last week’s, and hugged her daughter tight. She willed herself not to cry, and she sent Joanna to play with their neighbours’ kids.
When Leonard came home at precisely 6:30, Jocelyn was sitting at the kitchen table. Her heart was pounding, and she could tell the exact moment when Leonard realized something was wrong. It happened even before he noticed Jocelyn’s large suitcase leaning against the wall.
He said nothing as she told him she was leaving. He said nothing as she stepped into her shoes, and walked out the door, hauling the suitcase. She said nothing as she checked herself into a hotel room and felt the weight of her life lift from her shoulders.
It was replaced the very next morning with the guilt. She really was sick this time. But what was done was done. Even if she went back and begged Leonard to forgive her and take her back, he’d never really do it. Sure, he would forgive her, and they would play at the life they had before. But it wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t forget, and neither would she.
So Jocelyn made a new life for herself. She moved away before the whispers started, before she had to hear the old ladies’ gossip and suffer the disapproving stares of everyone she had known her whole life.
She was punishing herself enough.
Note: I'm a little bit sick of Jocelyn being portrayed as the villain without any other development. So I did something about it. For phoenixofborg, who encouraged me to write it in the first place.