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More Than a Memory

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It had been a long day for Hillary. Not difficult, merely boring, repetitive and worst of all, not challenging. She had been proposed with a new case, but one for mere petty theft, most likely to end in community service or house arrest. Not the kind of work Hillary craved for most, but as a dedicated lawyer, she took her profession, cases and work seriously nonetheless.

Ever since Bill's U-turn to withdraw from the 1988 Presidential Election, Hillary had completely thrown herself into her work. Left in a great state of confusion, devastated in a sense that all the work they had put towards his political career seemed to be ending, when he suddenly dropped the bombshell that he would not run. It was the affairs. His extramarital relations that Betsey, an aide and close friend of Hillary's had pointed out which would sabotage the campaign. Sure, Hillary knew about some of the affairs. She found out. She yelled. They argued. He slept on the couch. Before she would inevitably fall back into his arms and they'd make love until everything was okay between them. As she saw the list Betsey drew up; who? when? how many times? how likely were they to talk? Hillary felt something break inside her. But one name stood out to her.

Maria Burkwood

Hillary knew her. She wasn't friends with her per se, but she knew of her. Maria was around Hillary's age, a divorced mother of two and highly intelligent. She had a masters in International Relations from Harvard university and was very politically aware. Whilst Hillary never engaged in conversation with the woman, one of her children was in Chelsea's class at school, so she had gained some knowledge of the woman. Hillary had to admit, she was impressed. Maria was slightly prettier than she was, but definitely no beauty queen. Well at least not the kind of women Bill usually went for.

So why her? Hillary asked herself over and over again. It was an affair that had continued for a year, which destroyed her. But she definitely couldn't fault his honesty, at least not at that point. But again, why her?

So she threw herself back into her work and her parenting as a way to distract herself from the pain, the pleads, the never ending 'sorry's and the same repeating question 'why Maria?'

After picking up Chelsea from her ballet class, she finally drove into her Arkansas home. She dreaded having to see her husband. But she was a Rodham, through and through, no matter what her legal last name was. Emotion. It was something Hillary Rodham was taught not to show and throughout her life, became something she grew to suppress.

"You did amazing today, sweetie," Hillary congratulated her daughter as they walked through the door and both dunked their bags down on the dining room table.

"I know I did," Chelsea sat up gleefully. She had the same cheery innocence Hillary maintained when she was younger.

"How does spaghetti sound for dinner?" Hillary asked, smiling and almost forgetting about work completely.

"Shouldn't we wait for daddy?" Chelsea asked, with such a face of naivety.

Hillary swallowed. Daddy? She didn't know how long Bill would be. He could be home from work in a matter of moments. But the more likely option, Hillary thought, was that he was not going to be home until late, far past Chelsea's bedtime, after rolling around with some blonde bimbo.

"He'll be working late tonight, sweetheart," Hillary lied, watching a disappointed face take hold on her daughter's face "But we'll eat and how about you blow off homework for this evening and we watch a movie?"

"Movie! Movie! Movie!" Chelsea chanted gleefully.

Hillary hugged her daughter tightly, before spending a relaxing evening with one another. Everything felt right in what seemed otherwise like such a fucked up world.

***

It was near midnight before Bill finally crept in. Chelsea was sound asleep, but Hillary was wide awake, steam practically pouring out of each of her ears. She sat on the edge of the bed, arms folded, preparing herself for a full on confrontation. As she stormed out of her bedroom, she noticed her husband creeping into his office, trying to be as quite as he could possibly be. Quite an impossible venture considering his heavy posture and his wooden base shoes. Nonetheless, Chelsea remained dormant.

Hillary charged her way towards his office, with every intention of storming in, all guns blazing. But when he heard him on the phone, something held her back. Maybe it was just work? She asked herself. She hoped. She prayed. Curiosity got the better of herself as she leant on the door and listened in on his phone conversation.

"I miss you too, baby,"

Hillary swallowed. Okay, so it wasn't work.

"I wish I could have stayed too but you know why I had to leave."

Me. You had to leave because of fucking me.

"I hope to see you sometime this week. Send the kids to their dad. I'll move some meetings around, make up some excuse or something. I just need to see you again."

Hillary clicked her neck. She felt rage, she wanted it just be rage. But truth be told, she felt betrayed and heartbroken.

"I'll see you soon. Goodbye, Maria."

That was when Hillary realised; Maria wasn't a fling. This was something more. And she needed to confront him about it.

***

Hillary continued to avoid her husband for the remainder of the week, arranging for Chelsea to stay round Virginia's for the Friday evening.

Hillary sat herself down at the table after having finished work and dropped Chelsea off. She propped herself up. She looked gorgeous, not obviously trying or anything out of the ordinary for her current self, but more than she was comfortable with. The plain faced, huge glasses Rodham feminist she still remembers vividly from the 70s.

It was not long after before Bill walked in. After dumping his bags down by the entrance, he entered the kitchen to grab himself a glass of water. He immediately noticed his wife sitting there at the head of the dinner table, blankly, staring into the distance, hands cupping one another.

"Darlin'" his southern drool sounded concerned "are you okay?"

"Can you please sit?" Hillary asked, nodding to one of the chairs nearer her "We need to talk."

Bill swallowed as he took a seat. There were a range of things she could want to talk to him about. Chelsea? Their parents? His career plans? But judging by the lack of emotion on her face and monotone voice, Bill leapt to the accurate presumption that this had something to do with his affairs.

"Who's Maria?" Hillary cut to the chase.

"Hillary-" Bill began, guilt surfacing.

"And what's your relationship like with her?" She cut him off.

"It's-" Bill tried to explain.

"Because I know the relationships you had with those floosies." Hillary finally made eye contact with her husband "It was physical. Just physical. But I heard that conversation-"

Hillary's voice began to break, but she refused to show emotion. She choked back her tears, successfully and went back to her emotionless, somewhat robotic self.

"'I miss you too, baby,'" she began repeating some of the lines she overheard from their conversation.

"Hillary-"

"Please, Bill," Hillary took a deep breath "Please just tell me the truth. How long has this been going on? Is this just physical? Will you end this? Or-" she could barely finish what she was saying "do you have feelings for her?"

"The truth?" Bill was afraid of fully telling the truth to his wife. He never wanted to hurt her, not intentionally.

"Please," Hillary pleaded "for once, just tell me the truth."

"Maria and I have been dating for just over a year," Bill explained "Whilst there are physical aspects, it isn't just a physical relationship. I do have feelings for her. Ones I have fought. But she's not like the others." He paused for a second "I'm sorry."

Hillary was taken back by Bill's blatant honesty, but frankly, she appreciated it. For once, all the cards were on the table. She sat, in silence, for nearing 3 minutes, before Bill finally broke the uncomfortable silence.

"Honey," he held her hands but she recoiled, not in disgust like multiple times before, but in shock "Please say something."

"I think you should be with her."

"What?" Bill expected many responses, anger, crying, maybe even a slap, but that certainly wasn't it.

"I think you should be with her, officially," she bit her lip to hold back tears, and was successful "Leave me. Go to her."

Bill couldn't believe his ears. Was Hillary asking him for a divorce?

"Do you mean you want a divorce?" Bill looked at his wife in a state of confusion.

"I don't want a divorce," Hillary admitted "but I do want you to be happy. And it's clear that you'd be happier with her."

Here she is again. Always doing whatever she can to make other people happy.

"You have continuously cheated on me, Bill. Maybe it's not because of who you are. But instead that you didn't love me enough to stay. Or maybe it's that I pushed you too much. I don't know." She threw her hands up in the air as the tears finally began to surface - but not fall "But please go to her. Don't hurt me anymore."

They engaged one long look before nodding at one another.

"I'll pack a few things up and stay at Betsey's tonight and I'll be back for the rest tomorrow. I'll ask if me and Chelsea can stay there for a while. We'll try and get this divorce through as soon as possible. I hope you and Maria will be happy."

Hillary looked down at her wedding ring, slipping it off and laying it flat on the dining table. That was when the tears began to fall and when she stood to leave.

"Hillary!" Bill called before whispering "Thank you."

"It's okay," she smiled a broken smile back "I think we're both free in a way."

As she began to turn around again, hand on the doorknob, Bill called for her one last time.

"One more question!" His voice sounded broken alone with hers "Why did you never cheat on me? As revenge."

She turned around to face him, tears streaming down her face, much to her disappointment.

"Because I love you."