A Second Chance
Jab. Uppercut. Rabbit punch. Hook. Round house. Side thrust.
Jab. Uppercut. Rabbit punch. Hook. Round house. Side thrust. The punching bag was her playground. She stared at it, poised, sweat rolling down her brow. She clenched her eyes tight – her mind filling with images, all she had to do was pick one. Buffy Summers, the Sunnydale vamps, her father, anything would do – there wasn’t much Faith liked these days.
She hadn’t heard the door open. She hadn’t seen the man with the bushy eyebrows walk in. She was fighting; fighting the imagined, the untouchable, and nothing was going to stop her.
“Faith.” The voice called. She pounded her fist into the bag. Jab. Uppercut. He looked at her fighting stance in awe. “Faith!”
She unclenched her fists and watched the motion in the bag before her cease. “Quite a punch you have there.”
“Well – I try.” Faith muttered sarcastically under breath. “Sandy right?”
“Yeah. Sandy Cohen,” he answered. “Nice to meet you.”
“The pleasure’s mine.” Faith replied, wiping the sweat from her face.
“Are you okay?” He asked, walking towards her.
“Yeah. I’m five by five.” She looked him square in the eye. “Here to pay me off?”
“Good.” Faith replied, clearing her throat. “I’m just going to save up some money and skip town. You have no reasons to worry about me.”
“No?” She stared at him confused. “What do you mean no?”
“You’re not leaving town.” Faith raised an eyebrow. “I mean we don’t want you to leave. We’d like you to stay. We’d like to get to know you.”
“Your wife tell you to say that?”
“Then why should I listen to you?” She sighed. “You’re not my father.”
“You’re right, I’m not. But my wife would never forgive me if I let you leave and I can assure you, neither would Jimmy Cooper.”
Faith bit her lip. “My dad used to tell me he’d never leave. I could hear my parents fight through the wall and afterwards he’d always come into my room and tell me he’d never leave, never ever. He did. It was easier and I can assure you, it’ll be easier for your wife and Jimmy Cooper if I left. I’m not the kind of person people love.”
“He’s flying in.”
“He’ll be here tomorrow. He’s coming from Hawaii to see you.” Sandy informed her. “Your adopted father may have left, but Jimmy’s leaving his home to come and meet you.”
“Well – that sure is something, isn’t it?” Faith chuckled.
“I looked at your file.”
“My file?” Faith questioned. “What do you mean file? Don’t tell me my permanent record followed me out of school.”
“Your record.” Sandy clarified. “With the police.”
“Oh that.” Faith smirked. “Fun times.”
“Indecent exposure,” Sandy shook his head. “Sounds like a lot of fun.”
She shrugged, “Life happens.”
“I’ve lived a much longer life than you and I’ve never hugged a preacher, stark naked in the street.”
“Maybe you’ve been missing out.”
“Look – there’s a lot of things in your file about your mother. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.”
“What’s there to ask?” She shook her head. “You’re a district attorney. If anyone knows the story it’s you.”
“But she adopted you.” Sandy asked. “That part throws me.”
Faith smirked. “My dad used to be this big shot, this venture capitalist. He married my mother because he loved her. She married him because he had money. He wanted kids, she didn’t, but alas, that could end a marriage and of course she wouldn’t want to end a marriage, not when she lived in the lap of drug and alcohol luxury. She couldn’t get pregnant, so they adopted me.
“A few bad investments later and he’d lost everything. He lost all that money and no one wanted to hire him with that shoddy portfolio of his. He had no other skills. Lost his temper, got fired from job after job. My mom decided a divorce was in order; she wanted to squeeze that last cent out of him. He wanted custody. She convinced him no one would ever give it to him. In other words she wanted the tax exemption and adoption allowance. He left. Everything fell apart.”
“Don’t be.” She looked at him sternly. “The bitch is dead.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Maybe not,” She shrugged. “But I’m pretty sure I do.”
Sandy inhaled sharply. “I’m supposed to invite you to dinner.”
“Because the last one went so well.”
“This one will be better.” Sandy told her. “I promise.”
“I haven’t had many good experiences with promises.”
“Yeah.” Faith smiled. “I guess.” ***** This was it. She could feel it in her bones, her worse fear being realized, her nightmare coming to life. She wasn’t this stupid. She didn’t make these mistakes twice. She was twenty-one, behind in college, and this was not the story of her life. They hadn’t forgotten to use a condom, at least she didn’t think they had and she hadn’t forgotten to take a pill, at least she didn’t she had.
She closed her eyes, balled her legs into her chest and took a deep breath. There was another reason her period was late. She was young, somewhat athletic, her period didn’t have to follow a set pattern. So what if it had? That didn’t matter. Things changed, bodies changed, and there was no way that test would come back positive. No way. Her mother hadn’t helped her for this. Had she?
She didn’t think she could do it again. The cold ultrasound gel. The swelling feet. The mood swings. The isolation. She knew this was different. Deep in her heart she knew she wasn’t a high school senior anymore, she knew she wasn’t Jimmy Cooper’s anymore, she knew her life wouldn’t turn into his plan. Sandy was different. Sandy was older, he was in law school, he was amazing. He was everything she could have ever wanted. He would never let her give up on her dreams, but she also knew that if the test was positive they wouldn’t be living in a mail truck ever again.
The front door squeaked open. She sank into the wall behind her. “Shit,” she murmured her hand instinctively falling to her stomach.
“Honey, I’m home.” He said as he walked through the front door. She smirked at his attempt at being cute. “Where are you?” He questioned.
She didn’t answer. “Kirsten Nichol, my soon to be bride, where are you?”
“Kirsten Cohen.” He corrected himself, “That sounds better already.”
And he was right. It did. She could hear Sandy’s hand on the door. She could hear the doorknob shake and even though she wanted to run, she didn’t. “There you are.” He said with a smile. “Is something wrong?” He questioned, noting her tear soaked cheeks.
She bit her lip and opened her mouth to speak when he saw the box for the home pregnancy test. “You’re not.” He told her. “Are you?”
“I can’t bring myself to look at it.” Her head fell into the wall once more, her hand still on her stomach.
He took the test from the nightstand and flipped it over. “Blue line,” he told her.
“Blue line.” She repeated, her eyes welling up with tears.
“What’s that mean?”
“It means we weren’t too good with our birth control.”
“Then your?” Sandy questioned.
“I am.” Her heart started beating fast in her chest.
“You’re pregnant.” Sandy smiled, “You’re pregnant.”
“I’m pregnant.” Kirsten said very unenthusiastically.
“This is a good thing.”
“It is?” Kirsten questioned.
“Yeah. I mean it’s not a bad thing, we’ll figure it out.” He told her. “So what if we move the wedding up a few months. We’ll figure all this out. The only thing I do know is that we’re not going to make this into a bad thing.”
“No. We’re not.” Sandy replied. “You and me will make good parents.”
“How can you be so sure?” She asked.
“Because I know me and I know you, and if anyone is going to figure this out, it’s us.”
“Okay.” Kirsten told him. “But this place may be bigger than a mail truck, but there’s no room for a baby.”
“I already told you.” He said sitting down next to her, “We’ll figure it out.” *****
Seth Cohen opened the refrigerator. He plunged his hand into the cool machine, eyes half closed. He sighed. The house was empty – at least it was almost empty. Ryan was off gallivanting some place and his dad had been gone for hours, the only person still around was locked in her room. He didn’t know what she was doing, what she had been doing for the past few days, but then again, he wasn’t sure if he cared anymore.
He pulled the container of orange juice from the top shelf and turned around, putting the juice on the counter.
“Good morning,” he heard in the distance.
He jumped. “Long time, no see.” He said turning to face the woman he hadn’t seen in days.
“Sorry about that.” She said softly, “I’ve just been thinking.”
“Of course. The child you secretly gave up for adoption comes and finds you, a lot to think about.”
“Look Seth,” She replied, giving him a cup from the cabinet behind her. “I was young.”
“Yeah?” He looked at her skeptically. “You were young when you had me too.”
“I didn’t want to be stuck with Jimmy Cooper for the rest of my life. We had become two different people and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life living the plan he had made for us. I didn’t want to be stuck. I didn’t want to be the girl that gave up on her dreams because of – because we forgot to use a condom one time. So I did what I thought would be easiest.” She bit her lip.
“Not easy. I didn’t mean easy. It’s just you hear about all these people, these good, bordering on perfect people who can’t have kids and I just thought I could help one of them. I thought my mistake. Not mistake, accident, could help make someone’s dream come true, but from the sounds of it, that didn’t happen.”
“No.” Seth shook his head. “From the sounds of it, it didn’t.”
“Seth,” his mother looked at him seriously. “I thought I could give her away and forget it. I thought I was doing the right thing, but then I did it and I couldn’t forget it. I couldn’t let it go and when I got to college, I thought a part of me had died and then I met your father and slowly that part of me came back to life. I learned what it was like to love someone and have everything fall into place and you were a surprise. A great surprise, a surprise I could wrap my head around.
“But after you were born I couldn’t help thinking about her and when we couldn’t get pregnant again I thought someone was punishing me. And my life with your father and with you has been fantastic, but I always wanted to see her again and tell her that I think I made a mistake. I just never thought I’d get the opportunity and when Ryan came and became a part of the family, I thought someone was giving me a second chance to make up for the daughter I gave away. I just never thought I’d see her again.” Kirsten told him.
“That makes sense.” Seth said quietly.
“Your dad’s inviting her to dinner tonight.” Kirsten smiled, “And I’d like it if you were welcoming.”
“Welcoming?” Seth scoffed. “What’s that supposed to mean? I can be welcoming, I mean after all I’m not the one who gave her away in the first place and I am the one who invited her to the other dinner, where you weren’t exactly inviting, so maybe you need to take your own advice.”
“I can do that.” She replied. “If you can invite Marissa Cooper to dinner that is.”
“Sure thing.” Seth nodded. “And mom?”
“I love you.” Seth told her. “I just thought I should tell you that.”
His mother pulled him in for a hug. “I’m glad you did.”