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Tomorrow… I would find something positive to say about myself.

***

Chapter 1


“Shut up!” I groaned again, this time rolling over as I pulled the comforter even further over my head, tucking it around my face so that the shrill beeping from the alarm was partially blocked out.

Every morning for the last few months had started out like this: me not getting enough sleep the night before, worrying about bills into the wee hours of the morning, until finally drifting off to the sound of gentle snoring coming from the pillow that was always tucked just under my arm. There was no ignoring the insistent beeping any longer, and if I didn’t get up now, I would be late once again for the 9-5 that I didn’t want, but needed desperately. $10.50 an hour, eight hours a day, five days a week was barely keeping the rent paid, and my search for a free babysitter was the same as it had been two months before when I’d decided to get a second job –nonexistent-.

There was no stopping the disdain that crept through me as I reached for the half broken flip phone that vibrated in protest across the nightstand as the internal alarm continued to shriek it’s announcement of the ungodly hour. My fingers reach instinctively for the switch on the rusted brass lamp I knew was there, turning once before remembrance took hold, furthering the chill that now crept across my skin from the cold in the room. We hadn’t had power for weeks, and even though I knew that payday was today, no relief came as my mind picked up where it had left off adding up the bills I could and couldn’t pay with this paycheck.

“Stop it Rae!” I whispered harshly to myself as tears threatened to spill, my fingers now reaching blindly for the tiny 99 cent Bic lighter I’d left beside the half burnt out candles the night before.

This was nothing new. The power had been turned off four times over the last year since Eric had left his son and me without so much as a note to say why. I’d outgrown crying over my problems and had instead dealt with them, using a few dollars here and there to stock up on candles that I knew I would need for the inevitable. What I didn’t spend on candles went to non-perishable items that could be easily warmed up on the battery-operated hot plate I’d found at a thrift shop. There was just not enough money to go around. Even living in a tiny studio apartment, my kitchen and fold up dining room table almost at the foot of my bed, the five hundred dollars in rent, plus utility bills were overwhelming.

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