So we know Theresa's baby lived, but what if she was still giving Ryan the miscarriage façade? Just go with it –please. There's more angst this way! What can I say, I'm an angst-whore. Enjoy, and please review! Thanks.
Sandy was sitting on the patio, watching the ocean twirl and heave far below. Off shore winds gave waves an extra foot at least. He considered getting his board out, cleaning the dust off it and going down to try his luck. Just as quickly, he vetoed the idea. He wanted to wait for Ryan to get home, see how his day went. Reluctantly, he and Kirsten had allowed him to take the car to Chino to see Dawn. She'd proclaimed herself sober and requested a visit. Sandy doubted that she was on the wagon, but he wasn't going to stop her son from seeing her. It was just the fallout he was worried about, if she wasn't sober, if she said something to Ryan to make him doubt his college application. He was going to be the only Atwood to graduate high school, and he found that daunting enough. Sandy had needed to give him some encouragement before he even considered filling out an application form for college.
Sandy heard the front door open and close, then bottles in the fridge shaking as Ryan dug around for a drink.
"Hey," Ryan walked out onto the deck and dropped his back pack beside the chair next to Sandy that he sank into. He took a long swallow from his water bottle.
"Hey, how was your day?" Sandy put down his coffee, turned to face Ryan.
"Yeah, it was okay. Dawn… She just wanted money. That and to show me off to her latest boyfriend. The only Atwood she knew of that was applying for college. She didn't think I'd get in, but she said she was proud I made the effort to fill out all their forms." Ryan's voice bittered towards the end of his sentence, and Sandy could tell Dawn had got to him.
"You know you've got a great chance of getting into your first college choice. Grades like yours…" Ryan looked across, smiled at Sandy, assuring him that he knew he was better than where he'd come from.
There was comfortable silence between them for a moment, broken intermittently by the breeze rustling the rose bushes at the side of the house.
"So, see anyone else down there you know?" Sandy broke the silence first. He knew he was like Seth, knew he couldn't let silence drag on forever. Kirsten and Ryan could sit out on the deck for hours, not talking at all. Sandy marvelled at it.
"Yeah, I saw Theresa, actually. We had a coffee, talked for most of her lunch break. She was… She's got a new job. It's better money than the last job. She's still coming to terms with… I mean, things are never going to be the same between us since…" Sandy looked over at Ryan, saw his eyes narrowed as he scanned the ocean. He didn't blame him; being an expectant father at 16, then having that taken away again… Sandy knew he would still be thinking about it if it was him that had to make a choice like Ryan made.
"It's been a while, but… I mean, I still think about it."
"It's not something you're going to forget. And you shouldn't, either." Sandy turned away from Ryan, followed his eye line out to the blue beyond. The ocean darkened with the approaching twilight; the deep blue water bled into the horizon until it was impossible to discern one from the other.
"Have you forgotten? I mean you and Kirsten…" Ryan was the first to break the silence that stretched between them this time. Sandy looked back to him, not comprehending the sentence.
"What? Forgotten what?" Ryan's eyes met his, clouded immediately with apology.
"Sorry, I didn't mean anything… Theresa told me Kirsten had… But I guess if you didn't know." Ryan rolled his water bottle between his hands, looking everywhere but at Sandy.
"What, kid?" Sandy asked, knowing the answer was close to the subject matter, knowing he wasn't going to want to hear it. Several moments passed. Sandy couldn't breathe, feared desperately what Ryan had to say.
"Kirsten had an abortion." Sandy felt the words like a punch. He turned his face away from Ryan, not wanting him to see the effect his words had on him. Kirsten had never told him about an abortion. He wondered whether it was just Kirsten trying to make Theresa feel better, but dismissed that thought immediately. Kirsten wasn't the type to make something up like that.
"Sandy, I thought… I mean, I'd just guessed it was… Kirsten didn't tell Theresa, she just kind of guessed it… It wasn't like…" Ryan was desperately trying to make amends on his side of the table. Sandy was saved from replying by the phone ringing. He picked up the cordless he'd brought out with him.
"Hey Dad, is Ryan there?" Sandy could hear Summer in the background, giving Seth instructions. Sandy handed the phone over to Ryan, who was still looking apologetic. He took the phone inside, dragging his backpack along with him. Sandy took the time alone to lean over his legs, his face propped on his hands. He couldn't believe they'd been married twenty years and the whole time she'd been sitting on this. They'd had trouble conceiving Seth; it had taken more months than they'd thought for Kirsten to fall pregnant. Kirsten had been reluctant to see anyone about it, had persuaded Sandy that everything was fine. Sometimes, after sex, she'd curl on her side in bed, hugging her abdomen. Sandy had found tears on her face several times, had asked her what was wrong. Only once, she'd broken and told him it was her fault they weren't getting pregnant, her body that was the problem. Sandy had assumed she was just upset about how long it was taking. She was a perfectionist and, more often than not, blamed herself for most anything that went wrong. Thank you, Caleb Nichol, for bestowing on your daughter such an inferior complex, Sandy thought bitterly.
After Seth, they'd been told there couldn't be anymore children. Sandy remembered Kirsten hugging him after they'd been given the news. They'd both planned on having more children, at least three. Kirsten had asked Sandy if he could forgive her for it. Again, Sandy had assumed it was Kirsten blaming herself, as usual. He'd held her tighter, promised her it wasn't her fault, and that he was okay with it, let her tears fall down his back.
"I've gotta go, Seth needs me to take some stuff over to Summer's. And, Sandy…" Ryan faltered, unable to find an ending for his sentence.
"That's okay, Ryan. Just… Don't tell Seth, okay?"
"Of course not. No one. 'Bye, Sandy." Ryan left Sandy alone with his thoughts. Twilight had well and truly descended, and lights were beginning to appear on the hill.
Kirsten, his Kirsten, making a choice that huge. Then telling no one. Sandy was willing to bet money her father hadn't known. He was sure she wouldn't have confided to anyone else in her family. She was a very insular, private person. Sandy knew there were things she hadn't told him, but he had never considered they would be of this magnitude. Besides, secrets weren't secrets in Newport. A pregnancy being carried by the teenage daughter of the most influential and successful business man in Newport would have almost garnered a front page. Instead, Sandy had found out from his adopted son, whose ex-girlfriend had needed to make the same choice. Sandy recalled Kirsten the day after Theresa had made her decision to keep the baby. Sandy had tried to make her consider what Ryan was going through. Kirsten had identified herself with Theresa, something which Sandy had mused about for several moments after. He'd forgotten about it, with everything else that was going on, but was now remembering her emotionless 'nothing'. She'd looked right at him as she'd replied when he'd asked her what that meant; had obviously lied to his face. As emotive and crystalline as her blue eyes could be, she was an expert at deception. Sandy had guessed that this, too, was borne from Caleb. Right until the end, no one had guessed the old man had been bankrupt. Up until now, Sandy hadn't even entertained thoughts that Seth may not have been Kirsten's first child.
To Be Continued…
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