By Minim Calibre

Notes: Spoilers through Welcome to the Hellmouth. Joyce, gen, G.

It’s been six months since I took it off, but I still feel it like a missing limb. Six months since “us” split into “him” and “me”. Six months, and the groove it wore in my finger is only just now starting to fade.

Six months, an old-growth forest of legal paperwork, and several hundred dollars spent on anti-wrinkle creams and potions that promise me all the things I wish I was stupid enough to believe. Six months spent smearing them on religiously, even though I know they’re a waste of money and they won’t make a difference; I just wanted to pretend I believed in miracles, for a little while.

It will be nice, not running into people who will ask me how I’m doing, that polite social concern stretched across their faces. Nice not to have to lie to them, to tell them that things are fine, that we’re getting along better as friends than we were as husband and wife, that it’s for the best, while the whole time my thumb worries the absent gold band. Nice to maybe make new friends, ones who won’t feel like they have to choose a side and choose to retreat instead.

A fresh start. A new town, new faces, new people, a new gallery. A new school for Buffy, one where she can make a fresh start of her own. A new house with plenty of room for the two of us. It’s more house than I ever thought I’d be able to afford, even with settlements and alimony and child support on top of my income.

We’ll be happy here. I can feel it in my bones.

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