Alex stood, waddling her seven-months-pregnant self up to the stand as the judge reached for her hand to help her as she climbed the stairs.
She sat there, staring out at all the people.
The defense attorney started, "So Ms. Cahill, the most obvious question on everyone's mind is are you pregnant?"
Alex looked at him like he was stupid, "Yes, I'm pregnant," came her reply.
"How far along are you?"
"So you were sleeping around before you filed for divorce?"
"Objection your honor. He's making assumptions," came Mrs. Freidman's voice, the prosecuting attorney looking pissed.
"Sustained. Counsel, address your question differently," the judge replied.
"Ms Cahill, were you pregnant when you filed for divorce?" he started up again.
"No, I wasn't pregnant then."
"When did you get pregnant Ms Cahill? Did you get pregnant by another man right after you were raped?"
"Objection!" Mrs. Freidman's voice sounded.
"Overruled. Continue," the judge declared.
"Did you get pregnant by another man Ms Cahill?" the defensive asked again.
"No, I haven't slept with anyone since he raped me."
"But somehow you're still pregnant. How can that be?"
"Objection!" Mrs. Freidman's voice came once more.
"Overruled. Ms Cahill, answer the question, how are you pregnant?"
Alex felt like she was going to throw up.
She covered her mouth quickly before swallowing the lump in her throat.
"I'm pregnant as a result of the rape," she stated, tears starting to roll down her eyes.
"Were you happy when you found out you were pregnant?"
"No! I never planned on having kids right now, especially not after being raped!"
"Yet, you're pregnant right now, a couple months away from giving birth. Did you consider abortion?"
"She had a heartbeat," Alex whispered.
"I said, she had a heartbeat," Alex said, wrapping her arms around her abdomen, "so no, I couldn't go through with an abortion. No matter what that man did to me, I couldn't abort a baby, especially one that already had a heartbeat and didn't do anything wrong. So although it crossed my mind and I considered it, no I wasn't about to have an abortion."
"You're giving it up for adoption then?"
"Let me get this straight: you get pregnant as a result of a rape, you don't abort the pregnancy, and you're going to keep the baby?"
"Yes, I'm keeping her! I'm her mother and despite what her father did to me, that doesn't mean she should be punished as a result," Alex stated, wrapping her arms tighter around her abdomen, trying to protect the baby.
"So it would seem that although you said you weren't happy to be pregnant, you're actually just fine with it."
"No! I said I wasn't happy when I found out I was pregnant. But things happen. And God doesn't make mistakes. I got pregnant with her for a reason, and she's supposed to be here. He chose me to be her mother, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. She doesn't deserve to be treated differently than any other child because of what her father did to me. I'm going to keep her and I'll raise her all on my own, because I'm her mother, and that's what mothers do," Alex declared to the entire courtroom, the baby kicking her fiercely as Alex tightened her hold on her abdomen, as if she were scared something was about to happen to her baby.
"No further questions your honor," the defense attorney said as he walked back to his table.
Mrs. Freidman looked at her client as Alex sat there, tears were pooling in her eyes and she was shaking.
The judge noticed this too.
"Your honor, can we break for lunch? I'd like to give my client as chance to compose herself and she needs to eat," Mrs. Freidman asked the judge.
"Court will resume at 2:00pm," the judge announced and soon people were leaving the courtroom.
Alex sat on the stand quietly, unable to move at the moment.
The baby continued to kick as Alex tried to sooth her.
She started to feel sick again and covered her mouth, fearing she would throw up.
Mrs. Freidman stepped forward, offering her hand to help Alex done.
Alex sat there trying to compose herself.
"You did very well," Mrs. Freidman told her, trying to ease the stress she knew Alex was feeling.
A tear slipped down her cheek.
"Come dear, we need to get you and your daughter something to eat."
Alex perked up at the mention of her daughter, rubbing circles over her abdomen once more.
She stood, a little wobbly on her feet as Mrs. Freidman grabbed her hand, helping her down from the witness stand.
Lunch was eaten in silence.
Mrs. Freidman continued to prep Alex, knowing that the defense attorney was going to grill Alex once more that afternoon.
"You never did anything wrong. You're a good person for raising your daughter. I promise you, we aren't going to let him get away with this."
None of her words seemed to ease Alex's fears.
Court resumed and Alex took her seat in the witness stand once more.
The judge called court to order as the defense attorney stood and began eyeing Alex.
"Ms. Cahill," he finally started, "if you were intending to divorce the defendant, why not stay on birth control in order to avoid an accident while you still had sex with my client."
Alex took a deep breath.
She wanted to jump over the witness stand and strangle the attorney for everything he had just said.
She had to keep her cool.
There was no way they were able to rattle her.
She'd prepared too hard to let her ex-husband walk away.
"I didn't continue to have sex with your client, he raped me daily."
"And yet, you stayed in the marriage."
Alex took a deep breath.
She looked out into the courtroom.
The young police officer who had helped her so much was sitting there.
He gave her a weak smile, trying to send her the energy to continue.
She took another deep breath.
"Yes, I stayed."
"Why is that? Did you like being raped? Most people would run away, and yet, you stayed."
"He beat me when I tried to run, I was scared."
"But you stayed!" declared the defense attorney, "did you get off on it?"
"Objection!" screamed Mrs. Freidman.
"That's enough! Defense, you're pushing it today," the judge warned him.
"My apologizes," the defense attorney stated calmly. "Ms. Cahill, you were beat and stayed, understandable. But were you hoping for a child? What happened to birth control? If you knew my client was going to rape you, wouldn't you stay on birth control to prevent a mistake?"
Alex's blood pressure was boiling.
"Let's get something straight," Alex yelled at him, "birth control is only 99% effective…"
"So you were in the unlucky 1%?"
"I wasn't finished," Alex declared. She stood up, one hand holding the witness stand to prevent herself from falling, the other covering her abdomen, as if to protect her child. "This baby is not a mistake…"
"It's a fetus!"
Alex's face grew red. "This is my baby! She kicks me in the ribs, and her moves, and she pushes every which way. She spins around and if I tap my abdomen, she taps back. I can rub my stomach so she'll fall asleep, and sometimes, late at night I have to pee every five minutes because she's decided to sit on my bladder. I've eaten a pickle with chocolate and mayo because I was craving it so bad one day because my daughter is busy trying to grow inside me. She is not a mistake! Was I ready to have her right now? No, I wasn't ready. I'm in law school and still have a year ahead of me that I'm trying to finish in the next six months. I have two full time jobs and I've grown a lot in the last seven months because my daughter needs me. Not to mention that I'm seven months pregnant and I look like I'm ten months and about have her any day. I'm not unlucky because I'm her mother and she was conceived. I'm unlucky because her father is horrible man who is going to be in jail for years because he raped me!"
Alex stood there shacking.
The judge stood up, offering her hand so that Alex could sit back down.
"Your daughter does have a father, and one day, he will get to have custody of her."
Alex jumped back up.
"Read my lips," she looked at the defense attorney and then at Richard, "over my dead body will you ever see this child!" she declared to the whole court.
Everyone stood there in shock, Alex trying to catch her breath.
"I have no further questions your honor," the defense attorney stated.
"Not so fast," the judge called, "get back up here right now!"
The defense attorney slowly walked back up.
"If you spend one more day playing games in this court, I will have you thrown out and I will personally see it that your client is in jail for a very, very, very long time. Ms. Cahill is seven months pregnant, are you trying to cause her to go into preterm labor? You are behaving like a brat in my court and I will not tolerate it. I'm calling recess for the day, and when I see you tomorrow, you better have changed the manner in which you address Ms. Cahill or I'll throw you out!"
"Yes, your honor."
"And one more thing!"
"Even if your client ever gets to see the light of day again, I will personally guarantee that he never gets so much as supervised visitation rights to Ms. Cahill's child. Am I making myself clear?"
"Yes, your honor," the defense attorney nodded dumbly.
"Court will resume at 9:00 am tomorrow morning," the judge declared.
The courtroom emptied as Alex sat in the witness stand, trying to find the energy to continue.
"Ms. Cahill," the judge said softly.
"I'm sorry for my outburst your honor. But my daughter isn't a mistake and it's not her fault."
"It's alright dear; I think you made your point perfectly clear. I was going to say that I will keep my promise to you. If he somehow manages to get out of jail while your child is still underage, I will make sure that she is always safe with you."
"Thank you your honor that truly means more to me than you know."
Alex began to stand when the baby gave a super strong kick, making Alex double over.
The judge was by her side in a flash.
"Ms. Cahill, are you alright?"
"Baby kicked my rib really hard. I'm okay, just knocked the wind out of me."
They left the courtroom.