He stared at the stack of papers in front of him, a trembling cream paw idly toying with the corners, the rough edges prickling his skin with every pass of his thumb, the soft sound of passing pages reminding him that this was all very real, and unfortunately unavoidable. A heavy paw landed on his shoulder, squeezing firmly but in a controlled manner to catch his attention, the paw’s owner showing an understanding face, even if the minute flick of his ears betrayed his irritation. They had been at this for a couple of hours already, the short lion with a pelt of a soft cream tone and a brown disheveled mane had none of the confidence or the bravado that the thirty five years old usually showed at work, instead, his eyes had a lost and forlorn quality to them, with his tail forever condemned to cleaning the floor and his fur to never showing its gleam again.
The rottweiler sitting next to him was a different story, with at least ten centimeters taller than his client, with the typical brown on brown pattern of his breed. He wore a crisp and proud dark blue suit with a pale silver shirt and a black tie to complete the set. Clad in the civilized being’s armor, he projected and aura of professionalism, wits and calm, all traits the young lion appreciated at the moment. The same could not be said of the other lawyer, separated only by a sleek rectangular glass table, the gray wolf carried herself with a chip on her shoulder, glaring at the lion like he was a prey barely worth her notice, and maybe she was right. Her black suit with a clear blue shirt made a stark contrast against her gray fur, almost as if she wanted to have all the attention focused on her, or , and the exaggerated cut of her shoulder supported this theory, she wanted to intimidate her opponents. It worked extremely well in either case.
The lioness next to her seemed meek and shy in comparison, with her beautiful reddish gold fur and big green eyes, the once happy orbs were clouded with a storm of conflicting emotions. She did her best to avoid looking at the other side, her hands grasping each other. She did her best to avoid looking at her husband, her hands grasping each other tightly, keeping her from total collapse. Something she couldn’t afford, something she wouldn’t allow, not in front of him.
“Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Sanchez, please focus”. The rottweiler chided his client, bringing him out of the stupor that more often than not overcame him “Do you understand what will happen once you sign, Mr. Sanchez?”
“Huh, I mean, yes, yes I do” The lion replied in a low voice “ I just need to sign there and it’s done right?”
“yes, once you sign the divorce will be finalized and all of your assets will be divided as per your prenuptial agreement” the wolf said, her unyielding gaze set on him “It’s best done quickly, any tarring will only-”
“Jesicca” Interrupted the dog, a furious gleam in his eyes. “ It’s okay Daniel, it’s all as we discussed. “
The lion gave a slight nod as his paw reached for his pen, moving slowly like the air had turned to water and his body was made of lead. His hand moved across the paper, thin black lines were slowly traced on the surface forming shapes that his mind could not attach a meaning to. His hand came to a stop, the muscle memory having run its course and the weight of the act properly setting in his mind. His lawyer gently taking the papers from him and handing them to his counterpart. A brief conversation took place between the two lawyers, bu the recently divorced male couldn’t focus on the sounds and only hear unintelligible murmurs.
His mind soon became trapped in a maze of guilt and shame, he could already feel the twists and turns his life would take from now on. What would his parents think of him, what would they say, what wouldn’t they, so he thought, the disapproving look of his father and the pity in his mother’s eye haunting him. Already he could hear the voices of his siblings and friends, laughing behind his back, pitying, blaming him, it was all too much.
A gentle touch brought him out of his toxic line of thought, the rough paws of his lawyer releasing the pen from his rigid finger and replacing it with a cold glass of water. Only then did the lion realize they were alone in the room with the faded yellow walls. The feline took a sip of water, just moment before a warm trail of tears ran down his muzzle.
“I thought she was the one” the lion whined, soft sobs shaking his shoulders “It doesn’t make sense, what did I do? What did I miss?”
“This things happen from time to time, Daniel” the dog said in a gentle tone that didn’t fit his rough voice “ Divorces are more common today than they were fifty years ago.”
“Where do we go from here Marcus? What are we supposed to do now?” asked the distraught Daniel “We’ve been- we,,, were together for fourteen years.”
Marcus let out a tired sigh, grasping his friend’s hands and giving them a comforting squeeze “Take some time for yourself. Heal. Figure out how to live on. It’s going to be hard, and some days, after you though you recovered, something it’s going to come to hit you with nostalgia and sadness. But you will make it out in the end. Have faith“