Mature Themes Ahead
(not that bad)
Please go read Part One before continuing
Everything I had tried so hard to forget. The troubles. The sadness. The tears. The hate. I remembered it all. The images of my past took over, against my own free will.
The scent of Christmas: eggnog, gingerbread, cinnamon, pine tree, spiced apple, floated around the entire house. I closed my drawer, taking one last look around the room that I had grown up in. I sat on my bed one last time, absentmindedly folding the edge of the sheet over itself. I fell back on my twin bed, the dark green sheets comforting me. I didn’t really want to leave this place. I didn’t feel ready. Fresh out of high school, I decided to take one year off then start going to college. But no, I highly doubted that was the plan any more.
Warm tears falling down my cheeks, I walked over to mirror, staring at myself. What had I become? Just some immature little girl, running away from home on Christmas just so her sister wouldn’t be alone on the journey? I’d rather be with my parents; downstairs, munching on candy canes, playing with my little sister, Claire. Maybe even watch my parents dance around the room, the lights on the Christmas tree illuminating their joyful faces. With a new baby on the way, they couldn’t be happier, at least from my point of view.
Paris appeared at the doorway, dressed in heavy clothing. I avoided her glare, looking instead to the falling snow outside. I took in a deep breath, imagining exactly how cold it was. I made sure my gloves were on tight one last time; I did not want my hands to freeze off on the journey.
“Ready?” Paris asked. It was more of a rhetorical question than anything else. She had been planning this for a while; I just sort of hitched on in the middle of it. Considering I didn’t have another choice on than “Yes,” I nodded my head and left my room. I looked back, probably the last time I’ll ever see it again. Heading down the back way, Paris and I slowly crept downstairs and then peered into the large, open windows.
“They don’t see us,” Paris whispered, looking through the frosted glass. I knelt down beside her, the cold, hard snow underneath me immediately soaking through all the layers of clothing I had just put on. I put my hands against the glass and peered inside to my family: my mother, father and little baby Claire perched up against the Christmas tree, the holiday lights bouncing around on their faces and the furniture.
“They don’t even know we're gone,” I whispered, my breath making a tiny cloud in front of me. I watched as my parents danced around the room, my little sister Claire stumbled around, playing with her stuffed animal. Paris pulled me away from the glass, away from our parents, away from the life we once knew so well. We silently walked down the driveway and into the open street. My cheeks stung from the icy cold wind and my hands felt as if they were going to fall off.
Who knew that on Christmas Eve, two teenagers would be walking amuck the shadowed streets of Bridgeport, running away from home?
My stomach growled in hunger and Paris shot me a threatening glance.
“Keep quiet. We don’t want to get caught,” she breathed. We continued on for a little bit, coming to the bridge that led into the main part of town. Putting my foot forward, I looked down to the black, gloomy water beneath me then back to our house, which was just a small dot on the horizon. Oh, how badly I wanted to just go home. Paris suddenly grabbed my hand and dragged me forward. She must’ve known I would be scared to cross the bridge on my own. My breath shaking, we walked forward, the silence soon becoming overpowering. I caught myself once more looking back to the place we were running away from. But the reason we were running away was nonexistent.
“W-Why are we running away again?” I shyly questioned, breaking the deathly silence. Paris groaned slightly, the wind biting at her cheeks, making them a cherry red.
“They don’t want us. They’ve never wanted us,” she coldly stated. Her words hung in the air, frozen by the pounding snow. Did our parents really not want us?
“Christmas Eve and they didn’t even notice we were gone,” Paris continued, biting her lip. “Too busy playing with Claire and gawking over the incoming baby.” Her head hanging down, Paris continued walking, leaving deep footprints in the fresh, white snow. “How does that make you feel?” she asked, her voice choked as she turned around to face me. Tears streamed down her face and onto her jacket, her grey eyes clouded with water. The snow kept coming down strong, Jack Frost nipping away at our exposed skin. “How does it make you feel to know you aren’t wanted? That you aren’t cared about? That’s why we’re running away, Danielle. We aren’t wanted at home, so why bother staying? We were simply just a burden there!” Paris turned away abruptly, sitting down against the ledge, overlooking the main town, her legs dangling down above the murky water. A part of me thought she was going to jump, but I knew she wouldn’t.
“That’s not true,” I countered, slowly walking towards her. I was afraid she was going to suddenly whip out in a mad frenzy like she sometimes did at home. I sat down next to my sister and gently hugged her.
“Danielle, stop feeding yourself lies. They didn’t even know we were gone. It’s Christmas Eve, goddammit!” Paris retorted, looking away from me. Suddenly a car zoomed by- a police car. Paris sunk into the shadows, completely disappearing from my sight and I followed suit until the car had left the bridge.
“Let’s get going.” Paris stood up, almost hitting her head on one of the bars. I stifled my laughter, Paris glaring at me as I picked myself off of the snow covered ground.
“Why do you think like that, Paris?” I said once we had got going again. We were only halfway across the bridge and we probably still had a ton left to cover before the night was over.
“Why shouldn’t I? All the facts lead up to that conclusion. It’s the cold, hard truth. No sugar coating- nothing but the bare reality,” Paris said bitterly. I could almost see the venom in which she covered her words.
“But that’s just not true!” I knew our parents did care about us. That police car was probably heading to our house. Our parents were probably worried sick knowing we were running away.
“They’re spending too much time planning for the next baby instead of taking care of the ones they already have! I’ve come home crying before. Do they care? No!” Paris yelled into the dark space surrounding us.
“Paris, they do care. You just never take in what they are saying. I love you to death, but you're stubborn as a mule sometimes.” It was true, Paris was a stubborn as you could get. She wouldn’t take other people’s advice. In her mind, she was always right even when everyone else knew she was wrong.
“They love us. Can’t we just go back home?” I pleaded as I stopped walking.
“We are not ever going back to that hell hole!” Paris snapped. She turned around and faced me, pushing me backwards. I fell into the snow, the white powder going all over the place.
“What the hell was that for?” I fumed, dusting the snow off my pants. I shook my head, snow falling out of my hair and onto the already snow covered pavement.
“We are not going back, ever. Got that?” Paris ordered, her lips turning a light blue. Paris extended her hand and I hesitantly grabbed it, doubting that she would actually help me up.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to push you into the snow like that. Just. . . . I’m never going back to that place.” Paris gently brushed off some snow off my shoulder, avoiding any direct eye contact.
“So,” Paris said lamely, looking down to the ground, “should we get going? I kinda don’t wanna be out here for too long. I’m losing feeling in my hands,” Paris confessed. I nodded my head in agreement but also to get some blood flow going. I could barely move my fingers let alone move my legs as we walked to downtown Bridgeport.
Christmas day. A day supposedly spent with loved ones, full of happiness and joy. Not for us, at least. The strong smell of alcoholic in the stale air made me somewhat light headed. My head rested on the warm wood of the bar table, repetitive Christmas music blasting around the room, silencing any other noises. Paris pounded her fist against the table, spilling who-knows-what all across the floor.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” Paris slurred, waving down the bartender. “Another one . . . please.”
“You sure you guys are legal? Don’t look like it to me,” the bartender asked, pushing his jet-black hair out of his blue eyes. He was cute- in a way. I pretended to be fast asleep, unaware of what was going on besides me until he shrugged his shoulders and turned his back to us.
The truth was we weren’t legal- barely 19 years old. Yet, Paris was getting as drunk as she possibly could. What else was there to do on Christmas day when you’re all alone, nobody to celebrate the day with? I imagined how lonely it would be to work a bar on Christmas Day, probably encountering poor, lonely, hopeless souls that were drawn to this place to drown their sorrows in an intoxicating liquid, even if it was only for a little while.
I spotted a strange man across the room, leaning against the back of a rundown chair- asleep. Empty bottles where strewn across where he was sitting. Documents fluttered to the ground as the man got slowly got up, and put them away. Ok, so maybe he wasn’t asleep.
As Paris gulped another drink down and succeeded to fall out of her chair multiple times. I silently sipped a bit of water, laughing at my sister’s drunken behavior. All of a sudden, she jolted to the restroom, holding her stomach for dear life. She slammed into the side of the doorframe, quickly falling to the floor. She picked herself up rather unstably, and drunkenly stumbled to the restroom.
I pushed through the bar’s bathroom doors and immediately regretted it. Paris was barfing her guts out, cowering over the toilet. She moaned slightly before hugging the cheap porcelain of the toilet. I sat down at the opposite end of the restroom, planning to wait until Paris was feeling somewhat better. Sitting in the corner of the shabby room, I dozed off, dreaming about how much better Paris and I would be if we had just stayed home.
“Merry Christmas, my darlings!” my mother chimed, poking her head through the door. Claire toddled over to my bed, tugging the sheets until I lifted her up to my bed. She played with the sheets, giggling and clapping her hands. “Christmas!” she laughed.
“Yah, it’s Christmas! Time to be with family. Enjoy the wonderful day!” I played with Claire for a little bit while watching the snow gleefully fall onto the bare trees. It was truly a white Christmas. I sighed, combing my hair with my fingers. Today couldn’t get any more perfect, could it?
The warm, inviting smell of cookies dragged Paris and I out of our room and downstairs. With Claire in her highchair, we sat in the kitchen, surrounded by delightful smelling treats. My father brought out a pan of warm chocolate chip cookies. As my mouth watered at the sight of the treat, I heard my mother jamming out on her piano like she usually did. They only difference this time was that she was singing along to her Christmas music as well.
Stomachs full and sprits high, we all crowded around the brightly lit tree. Paris smiled a bright grin. She seemed genuinely happy. It just all seemed too perfect, surreal. Suddenly, my father drunkenly walked into the room. Looking directly at me he slurred, “Hey there, baby. You be lookin’ sexy today.”
My head crashed onto the marble flooring. Jolted awake, I looked around the room to find Paris. She was crashed out right besides the toilet, snoring away, the scent of vomit and liquor still strong in the air.
“You hear me, beautiful?” questioned a strange voice in a drunken manner. I heard the sound of a heavy lock click shut as I turned around, facing the queer voice. Every fiber in my body urged me to get up and run. But I couldn’t. Fear had total control of my body, besides I couldn’t leave Paris all on her own to face this man. Who knows what he would do to her.
Who knows what he would do to me?
It was the man that I saw putting away his papers on a couple minutes ago. Or was it hours ago? Who knew how long I had been sleeping? With the sun blaring through the frost of a tiny window in the opposite corner of the room, it was hard to tell the time of day, let alone exactly how long I had been asleep for.
I cowered towards the corner of the restroom as the man advanced forward, nearly falling flat on his face in the process. He pointed his finger towards my directions, muttering a few untranslatable words.
“Come ‘ere,” he urged, “I won’t hurt cha at all. Nah, pretty baby. I just wanna play.”
Play. What a thing to call it. As badly as I wanted to scream- to shout for help- the cry got caught in my throat and stayed there even as he pushed me against the wall, putting one hand up my shirt, the other running through my hair. I kicked him in the stomach and tried running away only to trip on Paris’ unconscious body.
“No, no,” the man demanded. “Just wanna have some fun. I swear” He picked my up by the waist, and stood me right besides him. He put a cold, greasy finger to my face, moving a strand of hair away from my face. His fingers caressed my face while I stood there in fear. There was nothing else I could do. Fear consumed me. His stale breath made me cringe away as he breathed on me, insisting that this was all simply just ‘fun’. My body shaking uncontrollably, a tear made its way done my face as the man advanced even further. He urged me not to make a sound, wiping away the tears from my face, a greedy grin plastered on his face.
“Why you crying? This is fun,” he whispered, our noses touching. I backed my face away only to have my body be jerked closer towards him. There was no use to struggle anymore.
He had me trapped- cornered.
My only hope was Paris.
Paris lay sleeping across the room- knocked out cold, her limbs spread out every which way.
If only she would wake up and try to save me from this terrible fate. But no, as my cries of pain and terror were mixed with desperate pleads for help, she remained sleeping. She slept soundly as my life was carelessly ripped apart, piece-by-piece, monotonous Christmas songs playing softly in the background.
Once again, Paris was passed out on the sofa, her breath stinking of alcohol. I walked over to her, picking up the fallen bottles of beer off the floor. I gently rubbed my swollen stomach, remembering the night that had set my entire life completely off course.
Snatching the fake ID out of Paris’ hand, I wondered how she even got these. The one I had burned a hole in my pocket. I never thought I would be living like this. Living off nothing, a baby growing everyday in my womb. Who would of ever predicated this?
A light rain pranced across Bridgeport, making the summer day somewhat muggy and dull. An open, damp newspaper lay on the kitchen table, if you could even call it a kitchen for that matter. Just a couple of cheap counters accompanied by a shabby table. As I sat down, the old, wooden seats creaked as if the pressure was too much. Paris evidently had scribbled on the newspaper, her handwriting ruining the article. Why would she write ‘whore’ all over it anyways?
“100 Baby Challenges Booming” the article read. It featured a few challenge mothers, congratulating them on completing and another section encouraging those just starting up. Almost a mother, I pondered the thought of doing a challenge of my own.
Could I have the will power to go through 100 births? Would I have enough strength? Enough courage? I doubt it. This pregnancy alone- just one mere birth- already had me stretched thin. Or maybe it was the entire situation that had me stressed beyond belief. Seeing all these wonderful ladies complete their life goal sent a surge of hope through me.
That maybe things would turn out ok. Maybe one day, things would go back to normal.
And who knows? I could oddly picture myself raising 100 children. Watching their grey eyes- my eyes- look up to me, filled with happiness and joy. Their black hair highlighted with green, just like mine, pushed back as they played together. Gosh, what a life. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it could actually happen. I adored children like my parents and I just hoped I would be a good mom. Especially since my baby won’t ever know his father.
Hell, I didn’t know who the father was.
Oof. I pain shot down my abdomen. “Paris!” I gasped, clenching my stomach. “The baby’s coming!” Paris rolled over on the couch, sipping a bottle of wine.
“You’re no help at all.” Finding the keys, I rushed my way to the hospital, the contractions becoming stronger by the minute.
“Push, Danielle!” A handsome young nurse insisted. Chase stroked my hand, comforting me. “You’re a mother of 50! You can do this!”
A mother of 50.
I took in a deep breath, pushing with all my might. Clenching Chase’s hand, I prepared for the birth of my 51st child.
“First time mother?” a gentle voice asked.
“Yeah,” I barely huffed out. The pain was unbearable. How did those challenge mothers go through this?
“Challenge mother?” she asked, as I clenched her hand tight. I shook my head no. Being a challenge mother was the absolute last thing on my mind.
“Oh, I just thought because there is not fath-“ I glared her down, and she stopped speaking. She didn’t know the situation I was in. And evidently, I hoped that no one would know what I had gone through. I cried out in pain, my thoughts scattering.
And this was just one birth.
“Almost there, Danielle. Almost there, love,” Chase calmly soothed.
“Two babies!” the doctor announced- or was it the nurse? Everything seemed so far away. The voices echoed as the Chase asked what we should name the two new bundles of joy. I tried saying a name only to see that my lips couldn’t move. My head pounding, I slowly slipped away to unconsciousness.
“Sir, please get away from her. We have to check a few things now,” the doctor interrupted, pushing Chase away. I heard the beat of the heart monitor slowing down with each passing second.
“She’ll be ok? Right? She’ll be ok?!” Chase questioned, his voice intertwining with the cries of my newborn babies.
“We think,” the nurse flatly stated.
Sweat dripped down my forehead, I felt the pop of a blood vessel as I gave birth to my first-born. “A bubbly boy,” the nurse announced, her voice wrapped in awe. “He’s gorgeous.” She quickly disappeared, probably going to get him all cleaned up.
“Mother. Already? Aren’t you a bit young?” Paris joked, standing at the entrance to the room. Clothes tattered from last night’s affair and makeup smudged beyond repair, Paris smiled at me - a smile that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I weakly smiled back.
“Danielle,” Chase sobbed, “you have to stay with me. I can’t lose you. Not like this. Please!” he begged. “Danielle, for me! For your kids. Please . . . . .”
The steady beat of the heart monitor marched on.
I'm sorry for the terrible screenshots. My game seems to have a grudge against me.