Last Chance

by scarlet / superscar

Consciousness fades into the drearly present as I open my eyes.

Every day.

My head pounds with the indulgence of the night before.

Every night before.

Tick. Tock. A cuckoo bird pops out of the clock and a smile breaks over my face. Every day I stopped to watch it in the store until Tim got fed up and just bought the damn thing for me.

He feels guilty.

I should have had it all.

Was it only a week since I thought I did? Since my belief in love - fate - even God came pouring back into my veins?

The day Nathan showed up.

My chance. My only chance.

We'd both been around since our brief try at marriage. Him - the world. Me - the Tree Hill townies.

"So I hear you had a kid?" is how he broke the awkward silence.

"Yeah," I'd shrugged. It was true.

Six boyfriends after Nathan left. He hadn't cared to use protection. I hadn't cared to make him.

"Have pictures?"

I just glared at him for a second when he asked. Of COURSE I had pictures.

"She's beautiful," Nathan told me.

A simple statement of the obvious, but my heart swelled to where it was on our wedding night.

Back when I was innocent.

"You're amazing, Haley. You're a mom."

I shrugged - you get knocked up and don't like the alternatives - that's pretty much what happens. Yippee kai ai.

But another chance stared back at me.

And I took it.

"Don't you think you're rushing things?" Lucas asked me later.

After eight years of loving Nathan, I scoffed in Lucas's face. He barely knew me anymore, anyway. No one did.

I'd always love Nathan. Always.

The diamond on my finger glistens back at me as my bedmate stirs.

"Why did I get you that damn clock?" he mutters.

I just look at him. "Go out the back way."

"Haley - no. I love you-"

"I love Nathan." And I do. I really do.

"He doesn't know you anymore. You just cheat-"

"No!" I screamed at him, "That wasn't me. I was drunk, Tim. Barely conscious."

"Are you going to tell him?"

"Nothing to tell."

He goes. I hear him leave - out the back - like I asked.

The phone rings. "Good morning, beautiful."

Nathan. Always Nathan.

I pretend like it's me he loves, that girl named Haley that tutored him. I miss her. She could have done anything.

"Hang on a second, baby," I set the phone down and chase an excedrin with a vodka. "Now you said something about beautiful?"

His deep chuckle makes me smile. "I love you," he whispers.

The cuckoo pops out again to mock me.

"I love you too," I whisper back and rip it from its hinges.