An unwelcome beginning

Florence stared down at the tarnished key shaking in her hand. Her mother watched her, lip curled.

“So that’s all he’s giving you then. Nothing else.” She spat out the last two words, tutted and left.

There was a hastily scribbled note beneath the key.

Here’s the key to my flat. You know the address. I’m leaving for Morocco to work for my uncle. I will send you some of my earnings every month.

I’m sorry.

The note fluttered from Florence’s hand. She backed to the wall and slid down to sit on the floor.

Sorry? Was that it? She closed her eyes and held her head, squeezing back all the memories of Youssef – his talk about the future, the promises he’d made, the plans they had whispered to each other, his love for her.

They were not in the note.

He was not here.

She was on her own.

She looked down at her stomach, and pulled it in. Maybe this was all a dream. Maybe she wasn’t expecting his child after all.

“Well, when are you going?”

Mother was back, standing over her.

“I thought that maybe I could stay here?”

“No.”

It was like a punch. Florence stood up and avoided her mother’s eyes as she headed to her room to pack.

There was no time for tears, no space to hurt. She grabbed all she could from her drawers, leaving behind her tight jeans, her crop tops. She figured they would be useless soon. The suitcase was in her parents’ cupboard so she just pushed everything in to the bag she’d used for uni. Another thing she wouldn’t need anymore. She emptied her cupboard, and stared at the one thing she had hidden for years: it was her childhood teddy. She kissed it, and put it on the top. She stood at the door and looked round her room. It was packed full of textbooks, and the walls were covered with revision post-it notes.

She turned away from her ‘promising future’ and left home without looking back.

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