Irene

'Never look back', whispered the voice inside my head as I ran as fast as my weak and tired legs could carry me.
The cold wind lashed violently against my bare cheeks but I didn't stop.

I couldn't stop.

I shouldn't.

I had to keep moving on to keep us safe, me and my baby.

I ran and ran till I was out of breath...till I had to stop.

I looked back and smiled.

They're gone.

I shifted the baby to my left arm and reached inside my jacket pocket for the crumpled piece of paper that held my future...our future.
I had some money in my purse to last us a few days but we didn't have a place to stay.
I thought and thought but couldn't think of anything.
I had no one, no one but the baby, MY baby.
I was hungry and cold, the jacket was barely enough to keep us warm.
Then suddenly, I remembered. I rushed to the nearest subway and bought a ticket with the precious cents which I'd managed to save.

It's been three days since I've been here. This place might not be your regular Five Star hotel, but what more could you expect of a drop-in center for homeless mothers?
A solid bed, a dry roof and a warm meal was more than enough.
But soon I'll have to leave, there's a whole new world ahead, for me and my baby.

I haven't given him a name...not yet.

6 months back:

Things haven't been going too well ever since mom died 2 years back. I had to live with my maternal aunt and her husband.
I've never met my dad, haven't even seen a picture of him.
I was told that he died before I was born.
Aunt Fiona was my mom's sister so the burden of taking me in and bringing me up was bestowed upon her after mom's death.
I never really liked them, my aunt and uncle.
Aunt Fiona spoke very rarely, the only times I ever heard her speak were the times when she and Uncle Phil argued endlessly over silly matters.
Uncle Phil was a drunk. He was a truck driver and he smelled like sweat, tobacco and stale beer. I loathed him.
'Ya gotta earn ya keep girlie. Otherwise ya be burdensome fer us ye hear? Ya want that eh?'
He used to say with that ugly sloppy grin I detested, exposing a set of dirty, yellow, rotten teeth.
He beats Aunt Fiona sometimes. He even tried to beat me once but I was too quick for him.
I started working as a waitress in the nearby diner, I gave most of my earnings to my aunt and uncle but I managed to stash some of it away.

My life started to get a bit better ever since I met Jimmy.
Jimmy Dawson lived next door, he was 2 years younger than me and I loved him with all my heart.
He used to tell me how much he loved me and wrote me poems.
He was the only one who cared about me and I gave him my all.
I adored his dark messy hair, his big hazel eyes and his left-sided grin.


I still do.

3 months ago, when I found out I was pregnant, I was ecstatic.
I ran to Jimmy's house and dragged him out. We went to OUR special spot and I told him the news.

At first, he looked confused but he soon snapped out of it.
Then he asked me if I wanted to keep it.
He apologized when he saw my disappointment at this question and he promised to talk to his parents about it.

He promised to marry me.

I felt my life collapsing as I watched The Dawsons move out 2 weeks later.
His parents never approved of me, they believed I was ruining their only son's life.

I cried and cried but tried to understand.
After all, Jimmy was only 18...

But I decided to keep the baby. At least, I'd have a part of jimmy with me.
My decision enraged my aunt and uncle.
Even Aunt Fiona who usually never speaks more than two sentences lashed out at me every time she got the chance.
I swore to myself that I'd do everything in my power to let my baby grow up in a loving family.

I've decided that I would run away from this shit-hole as soon as I'd saved up enough money.
I'm growing bigger every passing day and my job is in danger.
Soon, I'll be left with no job since there's no way Mr.Roberts would let a pregnant girl work for him. I'll just prove a liability for him.
So now, my plan is to steal.
I don't want to be a thief but it's the only thing that could save my baby's future.
After the baby is born, I'll steal the money Aunt Fiona had stashed away secretly.
I know where she keeps it. Then I'll run away.
God help me...
Present day:
Every time I look at my baby's face, I am filled with a new feeling of hope.
He's already starting to look like Jimmy. He has the same big hazel eyes...

I miss him...

I miss Jimmy...

I reach inside my purse to take out the photograph, it's torn in half...
Jimmy took the other half with him... the picture of me.
It's the only photograph we ever took together, the only picture I have of him.
Sometimes I'd like to think that he looks at my photograph each night before he goes to sleep.

I reach inside my purse again, this time for the letter... the one I got a few weeks after the baby was born.
It was a letter from Jimmy asking how I've been doing and telling me about his new college.
I can't wait to see him again...
With all these thoughts inside my head, I prepare myself for bed.
Tomorrow was a new day...

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