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Pictures at an Exhibition

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Elizabeth hesitates only a moment before she picks up the pen and signs her name. 

McCord, still. She hasn’t been Elizabeth Adams for over half her life.

Her lawyer flips to the next flag, and she signs her initials. When she signs everywhere she’s supposed to, he hands it across the table. Henry doesn’t even look at her as he signs his name. Signing for his freedom back. She’d never dreamed they’d get to a place where they’d be talking to separate lawyers, where she’d have to start building a life that didn’t include Henry right beside her. She can’t pretend it doesn’t break her heart. 

They walk out together, but they don’t hold hands; they don’t touch at all. 

“Hey,” he says softly. “Just because it didn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t good while it lasted.”

“I know that,” she murmurs. “You gave me three incredible children and we had…” She has to swallow down the lump in her throat before it turns into something that embarrasses her. “We had some great times, too.” She thinks about every picnic on the quad, every no-rules Saturday, every game night.

Every knock-down, drag-out fight. Every time he walked out on her. Every cutting thing she ever said. Every silence that stretched out between them, filling up with all the things they no longer told each other and creating a chasm that grew wider and wider until one day they looked and discovered they could no longer bridge the gap.

But it had been good, once. 

Henry smiles. “Greatest love story of my life.”