The Good Life
Written by Amy E
Set 4 years in the future
"Good morning" Kirsten sang as she came downstairs to start breakfast.
"Sleep well did you?" countered Charlie. Claudia gave them a look that said, I
don't wanna hear it.
"Did Andrew wake up last night? I didn't hear him." Kirsten asked.
"Yeah, I was already up. So I took care of him. Wet diaper, that's all."
They had to keep track of how much and when Andrew slept, ate, and
drank, though he was four months old. It was a wonder that he was as healthy
as he was, being a drug baby. The first three months of his life he lived
with foster parents trained to wean drug babies, and then he came to Charlie
and Kirsten. They named him Andrew Paul in memory of Kirsten's first
husband, who was killed in a plane crash two years ago.
It was hard for her awhile after the crash. Charlie was worried she'd
drag back down into a depression, but he was there to help her fight through
it; and now they were married with a baby, a toddler, an elementary
schooler, and a senior in high school. Everybody's life was falling into place.
Charlie had made peace with Kirsten's parents; Bailey and Sarah were getting
married in a month; Claudia was getting ready to go to USC in the fall - full
scholarship, even residence; Owen was doing well, in school and
socially; Emily had accepted Kirsten as mommy even though she regularly saw her
real mother. The only worry Charlie had, other than the adoption, was Julia.
She was a junior at Stanford, still living in the shed and still married to
Griffin. If you could call it a marriage. He looked out the window at
the bright sunlight. Life is good, he sighed.
"Hey Charlie!" Kirsten waved her hand in front of his face, "are you
done daydreaming?" He smiled at her. She looked at him, concerned. "You've
been nodding off alot lately; you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I just haven't
been sleeping well lately." he replied.
"You're not having night sweats or getting sick are you?"
"Kirsten, I'm fine. I've just got alot on my mind right now.
I'm fine." He repeated. She was always worried even when he got a cold.
Nothing compared to Claudia though. She always went overboard hovering
over him. Probably always would.
"Do you want Emily up or should I let her sleep?" he asked.
sleep. I'll be dragging her all over this afternoon with Claudia; we're looking
for Prom & Graduation dresses; & she probably won't get her afternoon nap
Since she's going to Daphne's tonight, shell need all the rest she can
Charlie chuckled, knowing how Emily usually returns from Daphne's
"Don't forget to remind Kevin about the picnic tomorrow!" Kirsten yelled
Charlie on his way out.
"Sarah! Calm down. We've got a month to go before the wedding."
Bailey, but finals are here....and I'm worried that the wedding isn't
fall together in time."
"Your mom is taking care of the wedding stuff along with Miz Sheila, or
whatever her name is, from that wedding place."
Sarah looked at him
exasperated, "It's Ms. Shindle and her business is 'Wedded Bliss'.
waved his hand, "Whatever. You are supposed to concentrate on finals.
"Oh, and our wedding's not?" she asked.
I meant." Bailey replied. "Your mother and Kirsten and I are taking
everything. We've been over the plans several times."
"I know Bailey,
I've been planning for this wedding for the longest time, since we were
high school. I just want everything to be perfect."
He smoothed her
back from her face. "You know we could be married with a JP and it
still be perfect to me. You make it perfect." Sarah's face melted with
and they kissed long and deep.
"Um, I've gotta get to work. I've got several stops to make on the
Bailey pulled away from Sarah uncomfortably. She looked at him with a
question in her eyes. What's wrong? she wondered. Bailey bolted from
Sarah was sure she said or did something wrong.
Kirsten & Claudia were shopping for dresses. The mall was extremely
for a Friday afternoon, it seemed like everyone and their mother was
for Prom. As they went from shop to shop, Claudia explained to Kristen
type of dress she wanted to get.
"I don't know Claud," Kirsten frowned, "I'm not sure that dress is you."
Claudia had found what she considered the 'perfect' dress. "I mean I
you're growing up, but that diamond cut in the middle is really too
a Prom. It looks more like something a model would wear down a Paris
"Come on Kirsten, please!" This is comfortable and fun and the deep
perfect for my coloring!" Claudia pleaded.
"Think of it this way,"
countered. "What would your brother've said to a woman in that dress at
Prom?" Claudia looked at the dress forlornly and hung it back up. They
up deciding upon a deep purple slip style dress. Kirsten compromised by
letting the dressmaker slit the side to above the knee.
Afterwards Kirsten gave her a big hug and she treated her to lunch at
English Tea Room.
Bay Memorial Park
Charlie & Kirsten, along with Owen & baby Andrew were having their
remission picnic with Kevin, his wife Janet, and their secretary Robin.
was a beautiful spring day, about 70 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky.
Robin was new to the business, so Kevin & Charlie were explaining how
started. The wives had heard these stories before; they seemed to get
each year, so they unpacked and talked amongst themselves. Janet asked
Emily was and Kirsten explained that it was her week-end with Daphne.
looked over at the guys who've got poor Robin snowed with their stories.
Janet let on that she is pregnant. About 3 months, she said.
wonderful! I'll bet Kevin is just ecstatic," Kirsten gasped.
news doesn't upset you," Janet responded.
"Oh no. I've got two
children and a brother & sister-in-law that I've had a hand in raising.
all this family's been through, I've learned to be happy with what the
gives you and not dwell about what or why he lets certain things
sun shined even brighter for the rest of their picnic.
Later that evening as everyone was packing, Kevin talked to Janet about
exhausted Charlie's been at work. "Did Kirsten say anything to you?" He
Janet shook her head "She just mentioned that with all the
they've been under lately that he's not been sleeping well; you know,
wedding, Claudia's going away, the adoptionů.." When's his check-up?
know?" she asked.
"In two weeks I think he said. I'm sure he'd tell us
anything was wrong."
Another Sunday arrived and with less than four weeks before the wedding,
Sarah, Kirsten & Julia were shopping for a few last minute wedding
more days, not counting today." Sarah mumbled.
"What?" asked Julia
counting the days before the wedding," Kirsten informed Julia
bride-to-be does that." Julia sighed wistfully, "I was married so spur
the moment, that I didn't." Julia looks around the 'Wedded Bliss'
It's filled with everything a bride could imagine - for the engagement,
wedding, honeymoon. "This so reminds me of when Charlie gave Griffin &
I that beautiful wedding at the house."
"I know I couldn't be there for you then Julia, but I'm here for you now
you want to talk." Kirsten told her.
"Thanks Kirsten, I'm okay. My
isn't great, I wouldn't even say it's good, but being married does keep
guys at bay." Julia replied. "There are so many things I wish I could
about our marriage, but I think it's too late."
Kirsten asked why she
continued being married.
"I don't know. Because we've been married for
years and it feels comfortable I guess. I can't think of what my life
be like without the coldness, the tension.
"Happy, maybe", Sarah cut in.
"But its not always like that", "I love falling asleep next to Griffin
having him there when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes we talk and
and giggle like when we were dating." They stopped into front of a
accessories store and looked through the front window. Julia turned to
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't be going on about how confused our marriage is.
know you & Bailey will be perfect together, you have always belonged
Just like with Charlie and Kirsten, there's something about the two of
that just clicks. Like you're one half of each other.
nice, Can I use that for my vows?"
Julia smiled. "You're writing your own vows?
Sarah shrugged. "Maybe, we've talked about it. But you know Bailey.
doesn't think he can put anything into words."
"Can you just see Bailey
sitting down to write his own vows?!" Julia excliams. All three
They moved onto 'Frederick's of Hollywood', teasing Sarah about the
Charlie & Bailey were talking about the upcoming wedding while getting
to open the restaurant. "You seem a little tense Bai. Worried about
wedding night?" Charlie joked. Bailey didn't laugh.
"No, actually I'm
worried about what might happen before the wedding night." As he started
putting down the wine glasses.
"You wanna talk about it?" Charlie asked.
"Well you know Sarah & I,
never...." he lowered his voice to a whisper even though noone else was
room. "We've never actually, you know, made love."
Charlie lowered his
in response. "Why? I thought you two were two all the way for several
At least since you started living together."
"No, first she wanted only
friends, then I got involved with Annie. When we decided it was time, I
backed down. I knew how she felt about going all the way and I didn't
make her feel obligated. I think at first she appreciated that...."
broke in "and that made her love you more."
"Yeah, well now as the wedding approaches I'd rather wait but I get the
impression she doesn't."
"Why don't you just talk to her about it.
what you feel. Maybe after talking you'll both feel the same, maybe you
won't. But I tell you Bai from experience, if you don't tell the woman
love what you're feeling or thinking, it could backfire."
"You think I should?" Bailey asked. Charlie nodded.
Julia & Sarah had finished shopping and stopped at an Arabica coffee
before going home. It was surprisingly quiet. This particular coffee
specialized in classical music to help its clients calm down after a
day at work. Kirsten had leave to pick up the kids from her mother, who
to town to be near her daughter and grandchildren.
"I'm worried, Julia."
"Wedding nerves?" Julia questioned.
"No, I think
there's something going on with Bailey and he won't tell me what it is."
Julia shook her head. "You have to get him to talk
That's where most of Griffins & my problems originated. He didn't tell
of the problems he was having with the shop and I was too worried about
Charlie at the time to pay attention to the signs."
"I don't know if I should be telling his sister this, but the problem is
being together." Sarah confided.
"Together, as in...?" Julia asked.
not quite that. You see, each time we start to kiss deeply or go
stops. Then he makes up some lame excuse and runs away. I'm worried
don't, or wont, satisfy him."
Julia shook her head. "You, not satisfy
Bailey? I don't think you have to worry about that Sarah. It's just
night nerves. Maybe he's afraid of what you'll think about him or his
Julia blushed then exclaimed, "God, I can't believe I'm having this
conversation about my brother."
"Promise me you won't tell him?" Sarah
"Of course not! Besides I'm looking forward to confusing him when he
into a room and we stop talking because the conversation's about him.
to get him to talk Sarah. I, out of anyone, know the value of keeping
"Why don't you try to work things out with Griffin?"
"I suppose we
just gets harder. You get more lazy. I've got one more year of school
think then maybe things won't be so bad. Were both willing to let
dogs lie for now. We've had counseling before and though we did have a
period of extreme happiness, the counseling was very hard and hurtful;
both of us."
"Daddy! I'm here!" cried Emily as she came in the house. Charlie was
down in the bedroom, wiped out from a long week of meetings and his
check-up. Emily bounced on the bed. "I painned for you!" she shrieked.
"Mommy says you tired; my picur make you all better." She laid the
down on his stomach and laid down next to him putting her face right up
his. Kirsten walked in.
"Come on honey, daddy's tired. You can help
start dinner." She pulled Emily off the bed. "You okay Char?" she
she pushed the little girl from the room. Charlie yawned
schedules these meetings with new clients and they always want to meet
concept man and the hardware designer. I hate meetings, that's not me.
"Nothing", Charlie replied. "Never mind."
"Okay, I'll let you rest for
awhile." Kirsten said. "I'll call you when its time for dinner.
napping so he shouldn't bother you."
"Hey what's this?" Griffin asked as he came home from work. Julia's got
dinner table set w/formal dinnerware and candlelight. "Candlelight
you dressed in something slinky; you gonna ask for a divorce?"
can't I do something nice, without you having to make a remark?" asked a
"I'm sorry. I just never know where I stand with you."
know." Julia replied, "and part of that's my fault." "How 'bout if I go
out the door and walk back in - start over?" Julia shrugged.
Griffin bounded out the door, waited a few seconds, and slunk in,
"Man, what a day." He took off his coat. "Whoa, what's going on here?"
"Dinner" Julia replied.
"Yeah? Well it and you look great." They stood
awkwardly for a few moments then proceeded to sit down. Griffin stepped
front of Julia and pulled out her chair. Julia smiled. "I love your
It lights up every room." Julia thanked him. It's a good start to a
evening and perhaps a new beginning.
Bailey and Sarah were watching An Officer and a Gentleman. "Man that
really gets me." Bailey said.
"The one where they're in
hotel room in bed. How can anyone film such a graphic scene?" Sarah
this will be a good place to take a leap.
"It makes me kinda horny." She states boldly.
"What? How can you
do you know about that?" Bailey replied.
"Just because I'm a virgin
mean I don't have hormones Bailey. Sometimes I watch you do things
apartment and I just want to attack you."
"What!?" asked an astonished
"And you know what keeps holding me back from attacking you?
"Yeah. You." She nodded. "You've been kind of closed off lately. Like
start something you don't want to finish it. Do you know how that makes
"Come on Sarah. You know why I never finish making love to
"No, actually I don't Bailey." Sarah said, sounding
frustrated. "I feel like I'm lacking in someway. Like maybe you don't
to be bothered with teaching a virgin."
Bailey broke in, "That's enough
Sarah. I've been holding back because you had told me a long time ago
you wanted to wait until your wedding night. I respect your wishes. I
your hormones are going nuts. Mine are shot. I always break off
know I won't be able to stop and you probably wouldn't either. Our
night is special and I want it to last forever, make it memorable," he
"So in other words you're thinking about me? Sarah asked.
I love you. "As long as you're not disappointed." She chuckled as she
"Never!" exulted a relieved Bailey.
Kirsten had called everyone earlier in the week to join them for a
meal at the restaurant. Normally they went on Sunday, but Kirsten asked
to come Wednesday.
"Hey what's up?" Bailey asked as he and Sarah sat down. They were the
to arrive. It was Bailey's day off from the restaurant and he wouldn't
there tonight except family always came first with Bailey.
"Why don't we wait for everyone else to arrive?" Charlie said. Since
longer fit into a booth they got one large table with Charlie at the
Bailey at the other end. Kirsten sat next to Charlie with Andrew in his
pumpkin seat next to her. Emily was on Charlie's other side.
"We're here. No thanks to Owen" Claudia said breathlessly as they came
"Hey - it's not my fault!" yelled Owen. I didn't throw my uniform in
Mick did it!"
Kirsten asked what happened.
"Owen & Mick decided to have
little mud soccer, that's what." Explained Claudia. "First they threw
balls in the mud, then their shin guards. Then it got out of hand and
throwing in the cones and jackets and anything else they could find,
their school clothes." Bailey shook his head and chuckled. Owen was a
"Okay then, Owen, you can wash your stuff when we get home,
including your clothes." Reproaches Kirsten. Owen slunk down next to
across from Sarah while Claudia sat next to him. Just then Julia came
"Hey guess who made it tonight?!" Julia exclaimed.
"Griffin it's good
you." acknowledged Charlie.
"Yes, we've really missed you at our family
dinners lately." Said Kirsten. "Sit here." She patted the chair next
"So, what's going on?" asked Julia.
"Yeah, you never answered my
"We thought that this might be the last family dinner
awhile, maybe a year," Kirsten responded. She looked at Griffin.
its so great everyone could make it."
"Why that long? I don't get it."
Claudia asked "I mean, no one's going anywhere, right? Charlie?
Charlie answered "No. It's just that Sarah's finishing up school - which
lots of finals & studying. Right after that is the wedding and then a
long honeymoon. Shortly after that Claudia'll be going away to college.
will we really be able to get together for a nice relaxing dinner?"
"Besides," Kirsten grabbed Charlie's hand, "we have some good news.
Charlie's in the clear for another year and, most important, the
proceeding smoothly. We got official word that both of Andrew's
parents have signed the adoption release and parental rights forms.
he'll officially be Andrew Paul Salinger. Right sweetie?" She looked
and smiled at the baby. He laughed back.
"Everyone, Andrew just laughed! That's the first time! They all came
coo at the newest Salinger. Claudia looked around at the table,
is good. Life is good.