A Second Chance
What if you discovered you only had months to live? How would you tell your children, your husband, your parents? Would you even tell them at all?
When faced with the devastating news that her cancer treatments failed, Annabelle Dixon does what many terminally ill people do: she prays for a second chance.
A Second Chance is the debut novelette from author Nicole Ireland.
That Friday in mid-September dawned bright and hopeful for Annabelle Dixon. The air’s crispness marked the arrival of fall. Even the leaves on the trees in Annabelle’s front yard were beginning to change, transitioning from vibrant green to hues of orange, brown, yellow and red, preparing everyone for autumn’s cooler temperatures and flaming foliage.
As a child and teenager, Annabelle had always looked forward to the changeover from summer to fall, for it signified the start of a new school year and new beginnings.
Fall also meant hours spent outdoors, raking up the fallen leaves that littered the ground, carving jack o’ lanterns with her parents, and drinking ice cold apple cider from a local orchard, traditions she now practiced with her own children.
That morning, Annabelle sat on her front porch steps, drinking a cup of coffee before her doctor’s appointment scheduled for that day. While she sat there, her hands wrapped around the steaming mug, she watched a blue butterfly dance from bush to bush in front of her. The sight of the butterfly struck her as odd. It was unusual to see butterflies that late in the year.
It wasn’t long before the butterfly’s waltz was interrupted by the arrival of her parents as they pulled into Annabelle’s driveway and parked beside her car. They waved to her as they made their way up the walkway.
“Morning, Mom. Morning, Dad,” she said as she scooted to make room for them both to sit down beside her.
“Morning, Anna,” her mother, Evelyn, said as she lowered herself down next to her daughter, her bones creaking and protesting loud enough for Annabelle to hear. “How are you doing this morning?” she asked her daughter.
“Maybe I need to ask you that question,” Annabelle joked.
“Oh, hush. I’m fine. Seriously, how are you?”
“I’m a little tired, but that’s okay. It’s expected. I know I’ve got a long way to go before I’m 100 percent again.”
Her mother smiled and patted her on the knee. “You’ll feel better soon. The past few months have been rough, but you’ve pulled through. You’re strong, Anna. You make us proud.”
Annabelle’s eyes misted over. “Thanks, Mom. That means a lot to me.” She stood up and looked around her. “I guess I should head to my doctor’s appointment now that you two are here.”
“Okay, sweetie. We’ll be here when you get back,” her father told her as he took the empty coffee mug from her hand.
“Thanks. The kids are inside watching the television…cartoons.” Annabelle rolled her eyes. “Tell them I’ll be back soon.”
“We will. Drive safely.”
She nodded. “Will do.”
Before climbing into her car to head to her doctor’s appointment, she paused to turn her face to the sunlight beaming down on her from above; its rays warmed her inside and out. At that moment, her life felt almost perfect. She had two happy and healthy children and a husband who was everything she wanted in a man and more.
The sole dark spot in her life was her own health. But that Friday morning promised a new start for Annabelle and her family, a fresh start, which left her with the same giddy anticipation she’d felt when she was younger. She was confident her doctor would tell her that her cancer had finally responded to treatment and that she was well on her way toward being cancer-free, something she’d hoped desperately for since she was diagnosed with the ravaging disease many months before.
As Annabelle drove to her doctor’s office, she turned her stereo up and tapped her fingertips on the steering wheel to the beat of the music pouring from the speakers. Before climbing out of her car, she adjusted the baseball cap covering her pale, bald head. She couldn’t wait until she had long hair again. She missed washing and brushing it. She missed its softness. But she knew in time it would grow back, so she remained patient.
* * * * *
Inside the doctor’s office, soft music drifted out from behind the receptionist’s desk into the waiting room where Annabelle sat, her hands clasped between her knees, waiting to be called in to meet with her doctor. Several minutes ticked by before Dr. Lucas’s nurse entered the waiting room and gestured for Annabelle to follow her.
Annabelle stood up and beamed a grin that reflected the happiness and contentment she felt inside.
As she stepped into her doctor’s private office, the first inklings of doubt began to play along the edges of her mind when she noted her doctor’s somber face. He didn’t return her smile, which struck her as strange because even through her darkest hours, he’d been filled with encouragement and a dogged determination to help her get well. Was something wrong or had his morning gotten off to a bad start, she wondered to herself. She hoped it was the latter.
As she sat down in the old wooden chair in front of his desk, she pushed the unease from her mind and sat on the edge of her seat, waiting to hear the verdict on her latest test results.
Dr. Lucas’ steel-gray eyes met hers for a brief moment before he spoke. “I’m sorry, Annabelle. There’s just no easy way to tell you this, so I’ll get right to it. The chemotherapy and radiation treatments haven’t worked. They didn’t stop the cancer from spreading.”
2- “I am a man, I eat of the beef, I look at the bosoms, and I giggle like a school child when things go boom. I am also a man, I am comfortable with my sexuality, I cry when the tears need to flow, and I think puppies are cute.
Why do I make the previous statements? Simply because I want the readers of this review to have the slightest understanding of who I am, and where my mindset comes from before reading my review.
Nicole Ireland has written a heartwarming and very inspirational short story here. I am not a fan of reviews that offer spoilers, even more so when you are dealing with a short story.
As I mentioned, the story is an inspirational one, as in it guides the reader to realize that life is in fact precious and should never be taken for granted. If there is something you have ever desired to do, A Second Chance implores you to find a way to make it happen. You know that dream vacation you have always thought about? Yeah, as soon as you go buy this book, click on a travel website and start making plans, go, do it now. You may not ever have the second chance to do so.
The story is well written, well paced, and flows well. If Ms. Ireland has ever had doubts about her writing, I suggest she leave those thoughts to fester by themselves in a corner somewhere and forget about them. Keep writing!” – Author Tony Faville (Kings of the Dead)