I read through the settlement documents again, seated in the long conference room across from my former business partner and his lawyer and next to my own. Dissolving a partnership of eleven years and we could barely speak to one another. The words all flowed into ant-like rows of nothingness and I had to focus on one line at a time to make sure I comprehended.

That’s the trouble with legalese. Though individual lines don’t give whole pieces of information, we were seated in silence so that we could read and ask questions and so tried to make sense of it all. To be honest, the dissolution was only about four pages long and two of those were definitions and one was intentionally left blank, so subtracting the half page at the top of the first which was the name and place of our actions and the half page at the back that was for all of our signature, the thing was only ten pages that I had to comprehend, but I could only focus on individual words.

The line said ‘nor lose possession’ and I figured that part I should focus on. That phrase ‘possession is nine tenths of the law’ came to mind, and I tried not to let it distract me. Nor lose possession of the fair,’ what the fair Rosamund, the fairest of the seasons, Vanity Fair. No, nothing so interesting. Neither party loses possession fo that fair representation in the courts, something like that. The ants started to spiral into the shape of a Ferris Wheel and my mind narrowed. My vision narrowed, and the ringing in my ears resolved to the sound of a carnival band and my lawyer, bless her, nearly shouted in my ear. I thought before the words resolved that she was going to shout, ‘Come see the bearded lady, no visit to the fair is complete without a visit to the freak show!’ Please focus, Cory, you’re paying by the hour and that’s not much time left.

And I resolved to focus and to shake the fair out of my mind. My lawyer called for the secretary to bring more coffee and water and then asked me where I needed help. I looked at her hand, her eyes narrowed – her pupils narrowed like a reptile’s and her hair seemed to have its own life and her voice was suddenly not that of the lawyer I’d consulted six weeks before, but of the harshest judge from my nightmare.

Possession is nine tenths of your attorney, too.