For you and I are past our dancing days.

Sandy meets Kirsten for the first time sixteen days after his twenty-first birthday.

"Hi," he says.

"Hi," she replies, after a few seconds of furrowed brow. A few seconds of blatant confusion as to why this odd-looking Jewish (he had to be Jewish) boy had started talking to her in the middle of the local library.

"What book have you got there?" He asks, friendly smile lighting his face as it stretches from ear-to-ear.

"Pride and Prejudice." She says, and she tucks a chunk of golden hair behind one of her pale ears. She isn't making eye contact, but something as petty as that has never deterred Sandy.

"Ah, a classic. For school, or…" He trails off, gestures a little, and shifts his messenger bag strap over his shoulder.

"School." She says, "Well, recreational. Both. I've read it before."

He nods, holds out a hand, "I'm Sandy Cohen."

"Oh," Kirsten states, she doesn't take his hand, nor does she offer her own name in compensation. "My neighbours dog is called Sandy."

Sandy grins, "Well, it's a popular name. One to be revered and only given to the most worthy of specimens."

If Kirsten had grown up with anyone other than Caleb Nichol, she probably would've laughed at this, probably would've treated this scruffy, Jewish boy with something a little more kind than this blatant display of disdain.

As it were however, Kirsten had grown up with Caleb Nichol, so Sandy was graced with no more than a tight smile, a condescending nod and a prompt gesture that she really did have to leave right then.

Sandy took the hint.

This is not the first time he has seen Kirsten Nichol.

In fact, he sees her for the first time two months earlier outside a bagel store.

A bagel store he visits every Tuesday. It's a routine, one that will be lost in the head spin of fatherhood and marriage and work.

This morning, two months before he speaks to her, Kirsten Nichol, in her pretty, little expensive car, has stolen his parking spot.

He doesn't say anything.

The third time they meet is at college.

("I'm starting to think you're stalking me." She says, somewhere towards the middle of their conversation. She shoots him a scrutinising look, softened only by the ends of her mouth reaching up in the slightest.)

"Hi," he says, "I never got your name, y'know."

("How is this possible?" he replies, "Up until ten minutes ago I only knew what you looked like, that and the fact that you're the neighbour to a dog with the highly respectable name of Sandy.")

"Hi," she says back, but this time she doesn't even glance up from her book. She's reading Wuthering Heights, Sandy notes with mild interest. She still doesn't offer her name.

("Ah, but really, that would be enough to stalk me." She states, the grin becoming that much wider, "My Father's quite famous, you know. Quite well known here in Orange County, Caleb Nichol.")

"You really are a fan of the classics." He says, as he pulls up a chair beside her. "Or just the women, Austin, Bronte…Have you read Jane Eyre by Emily's endearing sister"

("Never heard of the man." Sandy claims, after a few tense minutes of silence.)

"It's one of my favourites." She says, and she's looking at him now, staring at him with bright, blue eyes. "That, and this too." She says, gesturing to the book in her hands.

(Kirsten doesn't say anything, but her grin widens to the point it makes her jaw ache.)

"Ah, yes, Emily is nothing if not a passionate writer, and Catherine, I guess, is nothing if not a perfect reflection as a character." Sandy says, "What I always liked about Wuthering Heights was that neither Catherine nor Heathcliff are particularly likable characters, yet they succeeded in igniting a passion amongst generations of youths and created one of the greatest love stories ever told."

Her eyes are wide now, and her mouth hangs a little in shock, before tightening into an excitable grin. "I'm Kirsten," she says, holding out her hand.

"Sandy." He says, even though she already knows his name.

"So tell me, Sandy," Kirsten starts, "what do you know about one Charles Dickens."

"Oh, Kirsten, I see we have much to talk about."

The fourth time they meet is on a sunny Tuesday morning outside a very familiar bagel store.

"Hey there." Sandy says, and Kirsten turns around so quickly her hair flicks out, skims the cream cheese on the bagel of the man standing behind her.

"Hi." She says, and she's all smiles that day, lips spreading apart across pristine white teeth.

"You know the relationships gotten serious," Sandy grins, "when my bagel place has become our bagel place."

Kirsten laughs a bit, and maybe she likes Sandy a little more than she thought she would.

"It's actually good that I bumped into you."

"It is, is it?" She asks, smile stretching that much wider. A curtain revealing the pristine light of perfect teeth, sunshine.

"Why yes it is," Sandy states, a grin that ends up reflecting her own more than either will ever admit, "I think, Ms. Nichol, and I do think this with all my head, that you should accompany me to dinner some time this week."

"Sandy," Kirsten says, and her smiles fallen a bit, "Sandy…I don't know…"

"I do think this, Ms. Nichol, with all my head."

"Sandy…Just…it would never work."

He tilts his head a little, runs sweaty fingers through his hair, "Is this a no?"

Kirsten nods a little, and her forehead is creased, like a piece of paper that was folded too many times and then pulled out flat, leaving a map of lines and folds and crinkles. Her eyes are very, very wide, pupils dilated.

Sandy just nods though, casts her a grin with the intention of never bothering her again, he's only persistent, until the 'no' smacks him around the head. Grabbing the paper bag, bagel hidden inside, he turns to leave.


He stops in his tracks, a train colliding with mile-wide steel.

"I'm free Thursday night." She says, and Sandy smiles.

Not even when they are old and tired and living outside a stunning house in somewhere that isn't the OC, never, ever will they remember the second time they met.

This is probably for the better.

Their first date is something that both of them will recall fondly in both the hours of desperate love, and the times they stand on unfamiliar ground, on unstable foundations.

Sandy's the sort of gentleman that Kirsten's only read about, the one with endless manners and charm and wit. He holds open the door, pulls out her chair, pays for dinner with money they both know he has saved up, worked hard for. Money they both know she has more of. He's beautiful here tonight, clean cut and so kind that it almost hurts, hurts when she compares him to the other men she's dated.

Hurts, because she had them for so long, when she could have had this.

He's proud in a way she's never seen before. This isn't the arrogance that comes hand in hand with unearned wealth. This pride isn't sprung from birthright or stupid expectations. He's earned this pride, through work and people and, and just life, and she thinks that maybe she wants this pride too.

She wants to know who she is to the same extent that Sandy does.

Kirsten is beautiful, Sandy thinks, in everyway.

He goes home that night, and tells his roommate that he just met the girl he's going to marry.

Two days later, Kirsten takes Sandy to a carnival on the pier.

Kirsten wonders if it's possible, to fall in love with someone on the second date.

On their third date, Kirsten stands him up.

They were supposed to have dinner at this flashy little restaurant on the beach, expensive, but not so expensive, Sandy thought, that it wasn't worth it. He sits alone in the restaurant for two and a half hours before he leaves.

The car on the curb is oddly familiar, in that small, pricey sort of way that makes him recall a bagel house that he forgot to visit last Tuesday, and before he can stop himself he's at the side door, knocking on the tinted window.


And he's more than a little worried, especially when the window slides down to reveal the face of a sobbing Kirsten. Big, red, blotchy eyes that are drowned in the transparent sea of tears. Tears that slide down her porcelain cheeks, run races almost. This isn't just crying, this is liquid heartache, liquefied anguish rolling out of her heart and down her face.

Sandy digs into his pocket, pulls out a checkered handkerchief that his mother gave him for his thirteenth birthday. At Kirsten's downward look, he says "Don't worry, it's clean."

"I'm sorry," she whispers, almost an hour later when the tears have very almost stopped their competition, and she's curled in on herself in the front seat of the car still. Sandy remains outside, leaning heavily on the metallic door.

"What for?"

"Everything." She says, and her body is quaking, erupting with a grief he knows nothing about.

"You don't need to be sorry for anything." Sandy replies, and gently, ever gently, he opens the car door, eases Kirsten into the passenger seat, and drives her to that massive-Caleb-Nichol-mansion on the private beach that Sandy and his mates tried to vandalise almost six months ago.

Sandy catches a bus home. He never, not in the entirety of their relationship, their marriage, their parenthood, asked why she was crying, and Kirsten never offered an answer.

He's too good to her, she'll think that night, he's too good for her too.

Yesterday afternoon, Kirsten got an abortion for a child she never remembered conceiving.

Sandy and Kirsten have sex two months into their relationship.

It's an explosion of repressed passion, of anger and happiness and lust and…and maybe a whole lot of love too.

Kirsten is pregnant three weeks before hers and Sandy's first date.

She's not sure what tipped her off first, whether it was the missed-period, the vomiting, the migraines, the very, very gentle swell of her belly.

Then again, like her mother always said, as a woman, you just…you just know.

How? Goes Kirsten's head.

Crack! goes Kirsten's heart.

When the six-month-anniversary finally rolls around, Sandy feels kinda relieved, because he just spent the last two months anyway, trying to figure out how to make it as special as it could be.

In the evening, they creep onto the beach, feet leaving the softest of imprints in the sand, and Kirsten wonders if it's strange, the way she wants to stomp across the beach, make their footprints stronger, have this imprint, this moment on this beach forever.

They lie down under the stars, and Sandy counts them, counts each and every one that he can see, 46, and after each star is counted, he kisses Kirsten, kisses her soft and gentle, and hard and passionate.

"Not right now," Sandy says, "But soon, I'm going to marry you."

Kirsten nods a little, tightens her fingers around his.

"I'm not going to be able to offer you much, you know I don't have the money, but…but I'm going to offer you everything I have."

Kirsten nods again, rests her head on his shoulder.

"But for now, all I have for you is this." He says, and he kisses her long and slow, and Kirsten can feel his heart on her lips.

They are together for nine months when Kirsten finds out she's pregnant for the second time. She finds the irony overwhelming, and decides to cry for the rest of the day.

She cries until she tells Sandy.

He doesn't understand when she starts screaming, throws a lamp at him, "I'm keeping it, I'm keeping it."

Sandy says, "I'm gonna be a dad."

"Yea…" Kirsten says, "Yea."

The walls at the clinic gossip worse than the girls Kirsten went to school with. These white walls preach cleanliness and purity and innocence, when…when what Kirsten's here to do, is none of that.

She's here to abort her baby.

Really, Kirsten turned 19 four months ago, and that isn't all that old. She doesn't have a boyfriend, save the hesitant advances of a few arrogant cocks.

She's alone, and if she doesn't get rid of this baby, then her life, the one she has now, the one that she thinks is really pretty good, will all be over.

So she aborts for purely selfish reasons maybe, and this is probably why she cries.

Or maybe she cries because the day the test came back positive she spent all morning, completely unwittingly, thinking up names for the baby.

"Sandy, was it?" Caleb asks, and by this point Kirsten's ready to start smashing her head against the table, or slitting her wrists with the elegant butter knife that rests by her tiny bread and butter plate.

"And what is it that you're studying, Sandy?"

"Law." Sandy replies, and he's friendly enough, but he's more guarded, more defensive than Kirsten's ever seen him.

"Ah, well, it's a good profession."

"Thank you, sir."

They don't like each other at all, which is pretty fucking obvious really, from the strained smile on Sandy's face, to the expressionless mask her father's slipped on.

She wonders what'll happen when she tells her dad she's pregnant.

"If my mother offends you, in any way, you just tell me, and we'll hightail it outta there, okay?"

And Kirsten's shrugging, she can't really see anyone related to Sandy being cruel or worthy of this sort of warning. Sandy's reaction is a little intimidating though, throws her off balance a tad.

Sandy doesn't like it, when Kirsten and his mother get along too well.

Likes it even less when Kirsten tells her she thinks it's a boy, and his mother takes this as the perfect opportunity to pull out his baby photos.

His mother doesn't start her criticism of Kirsten until much later.

Kirsten goes into labour at three in the morning, following a rather vicious headache.

"Sandy…" She shakes him a little, pulls at his hair, "Sandy, the baby's coming."

Sandy rises like the undead, all mutinous, pained groans and cracking spine. "Baby?"

"Yeah, Sandy, if you missed it, you kinda got me pregnant nine-months ago. Hence the belly, really."

'Ah, y'know, I was wondering, coz no offence, love, but you were getting a little waist heavy."

Kirsten just laughs, slaps him, before clutching her belly that much harder. "We should probably get to a hospital."

"That, Kirsten, is quite possibly the best idea you've had in months."

Nine hours later, Kirsten gives birth to their first child, Seth Ezekiel Cohen.

She rather loves this tiny thing, she thinks, likes the big, brown eyes and the dark hair that reminds her instantly of the other man she rather loves.

Seth actually doesn't cry a lot as a tiny infant, however as soon as he discovers the wonders of speech they have troubles getting him to shut up.

Kirsten doesn't doubt that this came from Sandy's side of the family.

He's 18 months old, and Sandy's finally gotten him to sleep, at a rather disgusting 1am.

Kirsten's already in bed when he gets there, staring at him with big, blue eyes that almost ripple in the faint glow of the cheap lamp on the bedside table. He slides into bed beside her, wraps an arm around her tiny waist.

"I've been thinking, you know."

"Is this a good sign, or a bad one?" Kirsten replies, but her voice is soft, and so are her eyes.

"Good, I think, coz I've been thinking we should get married."

The second time they meet, they are both too trashed to recognise each other.

They fuck in the master bedroom of this house that belongs to neither of them. This is the joy of college parties.

A week later Kirsten finds out she's pregnant.

The vomiting tips her off.

A week after that, Kirsten aborts a baby girl that, were it born, she would've named Emily.