Author's Note: I don't own Alex Cabot or Law & Order SVU, nor do I own Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes, from which I borrowed the opening quote. There, I've said it, step off.
In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn; color your
hair; watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes,
you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you
can fold laundry for a family of five.
Nineteen minutes is how long it took the Tennessee
Titans to sell out of tickets to the playoffs. It's
the amount of time it takes to listen to the Yes song Close
to the Edge. It's the length of a sitcom, minus the
commercials. It's the driving distance from the
Vermont border to the town of Sterling, NH.
In nineteen minutes, you can order a pizza and get
it delivered. You can read a story to a child or have
your oil changed. You can walk two miles. You can sew
In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world; or you
can just jump off it.
In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.
It has been said that ADA Alexandra Cabot lacks a heart. That the place it would have been is filled with blue ice the same shade as her eyes. I've heard that her sole focus is justice, that once she has a goal, she becomes emotionless.
Maybe, that's what I need. Less emotion.
I sank deeper into the straight-backed wooden chair and crossed my legs, uncrossed them, and re-crossed, wringing my hands together, unsure what to do with them, I picked at a loose thread of denim fraying its way out of a hole in the knee of my jeans. I was trying my hardest to avoid looking at this woman. A woman that shared my first name, but beyond that, I couldn't imagine two people less alike.
When I could no longer stand the silence, I forced myself to look up, to meet the gaze of this Ice Princess. She was smiling kindly, which I hadn't expected, and to some degree, it threw me off guard. She handed me a Styrofoam cup of coffee. I wanted to take a sip, let the warmth fill me, but I was afraid, that should I put anything in my mouth, I'd throw it right back up. Gently, I set the untouched little cup down on the corner of her desk.
"Mrs. Davenport" she began softly and I hadn't expected her tone either. I flinched away from her, and then remembered myself, and where I was. She smiled again, and I couldn't help but notice the difference it made in her already pretty face. She was beautiful, thin, and strong. Three things I would never be, and yet she was kind to me. Already, I didn't understand Alexandra Cabot.
"Lexi" I corrected her. "Call me Lexi." I brought my hand to my mouth, and began to nervously chew on the fingernails I'd bitten off hours ago.
"Lexi, the District Attorney's office won't be pressing charges against you."
My breath caught in my throat. "I…I'm sorry… what?"
"You did what you had to in order to protect yourself. We can't… I can't fault you for that."
"But I…I killed my husband." I stammered.
At the memory of him, I felt the tears well in my eyes, for it wasn't something I'd wanted to do. I loved Will. With everything I had in my soul. We'd been together since I was in middle school.
"Can you do me a favor?" Alex whispered so softly, I wasn't sure she'd said anything at all.
"Yes, of course."
She held out her hand, and I took it, confused, and followed her blindly down the hallway, her heels clicking the marble floor. She pushed open the heavy wooden door to the room marked Ladies. She held it for me, I stepped inside.
Her route was direct, straight to the sinks. "Come here." She said gently. I knew she was asking me, but I couldn't help but feel like it was a demand. Nevertheless, I did as she requested.
"Look at yourself." Alex mumbled "Please." She tacked on as an afterthought.
I stared at my own reflection in the glass, violet eyes peaked out at me from underneath my long fringe of blonde bangs. My face was pallid, devoid of color.
"Take off your jacket."
Without a word, I did as she asked, removing the heavy wool overcoat. The chill that I felt run through my spine had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around myself, trying to make my body as small as possible. Bruises dotted my forearms; they lined my chest and back. I tried to shake away the thought, shuddered at the memory.
"He did that to you." She finally managed.
"No!" I defended instantly. "I fell down some stairs… it…it was an accident."
"So, you're going to tell me that you weren't fighting with your husband two nights ago. You're going to tell me that he didn't pull a gun on you. And you're going to tell me that you didn't try and save your own life, try and defend yourself from a man who'd just brutally beaten and raped you?"
I swallowed, unable to say anything. I simply nodded my head.
"Well then, I'll have to charge you with murder then."
"You should." Was all I could choke out.
"Yes, because obviously, you planned the whole thing." She spat bitterly. "You haven't said two words in your own defense. You intended to kill him, didn't you Mrs. Davenport?" her emphasis on my last name stung.
"I didn't plan… I love…I loved Will."
"But he didn't love you, did he Lexi?"
The tears spilled over then, running hot and fast like a river of salt down my cheeks. "I used to think he did."
"No one can hurt you like that and love you."
"If I had just done as he asked… none of this would have even happened." I shrugged back into my jacket, and followed Alex back to the relative safety of her office. She closed her door behind us, and sat down in the chair next to mine, facing me, like an equal.
"Tell me what happened that night."
"Clearly, you already know." I couldn't help the sarcastic tone my words took. I didn't want to face this; I didn't want to remember it.
"I do, from outside sources. And now, I need to hear the truth. All of it."
I took a breath, prepared myself for the worst, and then, began my story, the one I promised myself I'd never tell. "It was raining. But, you already knew that. And I'd gone to bed, tired of waiting up for him. Somewhere inside me, I felt he was off with some other woman, cheating again. I felt guilty; because I was glad he was with someone else. Every moment he spent elsewhere, was a moment he wasn't spending fighting with me. But he did come home, crashing and banging things in our tiny kitchen. I got up, went to him, for I knew, he was drunk. I only wanted him to go to sleep; I didn't want to wake the neighbors."
I paused then, looking at Alex, waiting for the judgment I was sure she was passing. Her face, however, remained expressionless. I continued.
"He had the gun, in his hands. I remember, I gasped, and I asked him where he'd gotten it.
'won it.' He'd boasted proudly 'had a good run at poker.'
I begged him to put it away, to come to bed. That he could play with his new toy in the morning, when he was sober enough to walk straight. He put it on our counter, it gleamed in the light, taunting me, and I think I knew, even then, that the damn revolver would be the beginning of the end.
He asked me to sleep with him, told me I would be the icing on the cake, a prize for his victory. I said I was tired, that I'd been sleeping, and I wished to just continue. He backhanded me, and he yelled.
'You're only tired because you spent the whole night fucking someone else, didn't you?'
I think I cried a little, which was odd, because I've grown immune to tears when it came to Will. He pushed me down, told me if I wanted to be a whore, then I could be his whore too. And he raped me. Right there on the kitchen floor. Then he reached for his gun. His plaything. He pointed it right at my face. I was so afraid, I guess my instincts took over, and I reached up, I only wanted to knock it away, and… it went off. Will … he was dead. There was nothing I could do."
Alex put her hand over mine; the eyes that I'd heard were so cold and full of ice, brimmed with unshed tears. "You did what you had to do. No one in there right mind faults you for that."
"Then why… why do I feel awful?"
"Because you loved him." She said simply, a knowing look crossed her face. "We can't change who we fall for."
"I wish I could press rewind, get a do over."
"Would you have done anything differently?"
I thought about it for a moment, and realized the answer was no. I'd have done everything exactly the way I'd done it the first time around.
"So…what now?" I asked, halfheartedly
"You're twenty-three, you've your entire life ahead of you."
"I've never known anything else…"
"You go home," she brushed my bangs away from my face, looked me straight in the eyes, "and you start over."