Quitclaim by Anne E. Noonan

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Bill Ohl

Now here come the parties to petition for divorce.

Well, to be precise, now here comes just one of the parties, to be known herein as Anne.

And despite said divorce having been granted four years ago, and at the risk of hearing nothing is ever enough for her, she is never quite satisfied, now here comes Anne to petition for a new word.


Anne is finding language inadequate: not quite up to the task, not quite the partner she’d hoped for, always there with the right word when needed.


Anne acknowledges that delineating what she has lost in divorce is not particularly interesting


Something is always lost in divorce, no matter the circumstances, or the character of the parties, or the level of civility.


Anne, by way of this document, would like to expressly state that loss is different when one is the initiator of the divorce: when one is petitioner, persister, insister of authenticity and the end to performativity.

Loss is different in the sense that

What did you expect, you started it all, you asked for it, you brought this whole thing on yourself. You can’t exactly complain about loss when you set the loss in motion.

That said

Anne requests this new word, namely, a new form of the infinitive verb TO LOSE, henceforth to be known as TO LOSS: 1. To bring about the loss of. 2. To create a version of loss that is unlike any other loss from divorce. 3. To write on the blank canvas of loss, to chalk the fuck out of the sidewalk of loss.


With that behind us, we can remember when

The parties held title to the marital home.

And the divorce agreement said

Anne shall execute a quitclaim deed transferring and conveying to Don all of Anne’s right, title, and interest in and to said real property.

And, in fact

Anne did execute said quitclaim deed. Anne transferred and conveyed to Don every blasted inch of said real property:

That charming 1924 bungalow of the real estate listing, right down to the smart retractable clothesline and the way her clothing leaned into their futures of sunshiny stiffness, and the spidery basement crates holding the earliest homework assignments of the two children born of that marriage, A is for Apple, it was all so simple.


Anne expressly waived and released any and all rights to such real estate


The sunsets and sunrises that she called wraparounds (said real property being situated on a hill) because any window she looked out (dusk or dawn) framed a brushstroke of gold or gray, of purple, or orange, or pink.

And by way of said quitclaim and with cautious optimism that this petition for the new word LOSSED will prevail, Anne enters the following into evidence:

(Exhibit A) That she has also LOSSED the gardens, namely, the plants (with names like the children of hipsters: Sage, Veronica, Aster) all getting along, even though gardening had become yet another solitary activity never shared: You weed that bed and I’ll weed this one; you take care of the front of the house and I’ll take care of the back, and it will all look so together, we will look so together.

(Exhibit B) That she has LOSSED all of the trees in the marital yard, and the way they moved on summer nights, forming an unbroken circle against the sky, as if they were holding hands or linking arms across shoulders, slushily dancing at a wedding We Are FAM-i-ly.

(Exhibit C) That she has LOSSED her now-adult daughter’s peace of mind, and said daughter’s heretofore steadfast belief that things are, in fact, as they seem; that lurking fears will not, in fact, bear fruit.

(Exhibit D) That she has LOSSED her now-adult son’s doglike expectation that life will always be as sweet as he is.

(Exhibit E) That she has, in effect, LOSSED any right to complain or express pain about the losses delineated herein, given her status as petitioner.


Anne will not surrender – will not issue quitclaim to – certain especially vivid mental snapshots that, despite having occurred in said quitclaimed marital home, will forever be etched into her very being.

By way of example

(1) The first child born of the marriage, then age 4, telling the realtor during the first walk-through: I will always live in this house even after I die, and

(2) The sweetness and velvet-headed milkiness of the newborn second child born of the marriage, and the way she held him against her abdomen in a rocking chair, pretending (rather uncharacteristically) that he was still inside her.

Indeed, and with all due respect, Anne would very much like to stake permanent claim to these etchings

Should it please the court.

Meet the Contributor
anne e noonan authorAnne Noonan teaches psychology at a public university north of Boston. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Blackbird, Longridge Review, Prick of the Spindle, SNReview, BoomerLitMag, and Soundings East (the latter under the pseudonym Evie Hartnick). She has quite recently finished a book-length collection of personal essays (Youngest of Eight, Named by Sibling) and is currently writing a textbook on understanding the psychology of social class via creative nonfiction.

STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Bill Ohl

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