Ficlet: Love is a Losing Hand (Jocelyn McCoy)

Title: Love is a Losing Hand
Author: igrockspock
Rating: PG
Summary: It's a real burden, being right so often
Notes: for the latest drabble fest at where_no_woman

He shouldn't have had so much whiskey at the party, no matter what a self-righteous old bitch her mother was. She'd been handling the woman stone cold sober for the last twenty-seven years; he could have survived one night.

He should have come home earlier, never mind the idiot kid bleeding on the operating table. She and Jo -- alive, responsible, and uninjured -- shouldn't have to play second fiddle to some idiot fourteen-year-old who got drunk and stole a hoverbike. Night after night, she shouldn't be the one to cook dinner for a picky two-year-old, drag her into a bath, and read her a bedtime story all the while listening to how badly the girl wanted her daddy. How unfair that a toddler could make her feel so inadequate and unwanted when her father was so good at doing that all by himself.

And he should have listened to her, never mind that she'd had a bit too much to drink herself. He should have looked past all the cruel words pouring out of her mouth to hear all the hurt behind them. He should have told her what had happened the night his father died because it wasn't fair to ask for her understanding without sharing his pain. She wasn't backing down because she was right dammit, and Leonard McCoy had never been wrong a day in his life, and it was time for him to face the truth. So she kept fighting, late at night when Jo was in bed, and she was exhausted and he'd had a drink -- or sometimes the other way around -- over things she swore would never matter to her: who washed the dishes last, whose turn to feed the dog, whether making the bed in the morning was really necessary, and what constituted spending too much money on Starbuck's.

She was right about it all; the judge admitted it even if Leonard wouldn't, and now she has the house, the car, and ninety-five percent of the money in their joint credit account to prove it. Jo doesn't ask for her father so much any more, and the house feels more like home now that she can call it hers instead of pretending to share it with someone who's never there. Still, sometimes when she settles into the big bed alone, she remembers the night he'd left for good -- he'd slammed the door so hard the walls had shaken, and Jo woke up screaming -- and she wonders if she should have been right a little less often.
Divorce is nearly always like this, I think; not two people who are bad, but two people who make each other behave badly

Yes! This is exactly what I was going for - nobody completely right or completely wrong. I'm glad it worked!

My mom's told me stories about my sisters and me making art projects for our dad while he was away (he worked on the road when we were small, though they were still married then), and it's really sad because she was the one who had to take care of us all every day, all by herself, but we'd make presents for Dad instead because he wasn't there. Not really fair, but that's kind of how kids' minds work, I guess. Anyway, the bit about Jo wanting her daddy made me think of that.

Very sad ficlet, hit kind of close to home. (I think your writing has a knack for that, actually.)
I suspect a lot of ex-wives of workaholic men have a similar story to tell. I remember my own mother feeling hurt by how eager we were to spend time with my dad. She stayed at home with us, but my dad worked all the time, so we were always asking for him and making stuff for him. And yeah, it is how kids' minds work: you appreciate things that are scarce, not things that are always available, even if it should be the other way around.