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She sat quietly in the dark bedroom, deep in thought while tugging at the homemade curl she fashioned with pink sponge rollers. It was a nervous habit. In fact, a single brown curl hung free while the rest were bundled in their respective places. A single street light shone through the window from the street and illuminated parts of her bedroom, allowing her to peer into the sleeping face of her sweet daughter Abigail. She was a peaceful sleeper, breathing softly and smiling.

In a few short hours, Carrie would be rushing Abby through their modest cottage as she headed to yet another job interview in yet another new town as they were yet again building another new life. Carrie stifled tears as she reminisced about her former lives. This isn’t the reality she worked so hard to build. She wondered how she got there. She wondered how a woman with her education and professional stature could find herself pleading for minimum wage jobs as a waitress in nondescript diners. She wondered how many different variations of her name she could come up with as she created a new persona every time she moved. She wondered... how many dingy walled, smoke filled, coffee stained diners there remained in her future as she was chased from life to life.

She shook the wondering from her head. It didn’t matter. Each beginning started the same and ended the same; and in the middle, she lived in fear. In the middle, she was tormented by the lives of high school and college classmates, who got to live their best lives. She was tormented by former colleagues and professional contacts who shared pictures of themselves feasting on surf and turf while she had to feed her daughter end of the day diner surplus. She was tormented by acquaintances, who took winter ski vacations and summer Caribbean vacations. Family members who enjoyed the warmth and comfort of each other during family dinners and holiday events.

Carrie didn’t have any of those things. She had Abigail; and she had herself. She told herself it was enough. But there were times that her life painfully fell short. While she wore her smile like a badge of honor, she had long since grown weary of the life she lived. The life of running and whispering and lying. The life where she couldn’t make any friends because she couldn’t trust anyone to keep her secrets... to know her identity. The real one. Not the one she made up for the new town. Her life of freedom and incarceration. Her life where darkness was too dark, light was too light, and silence was too silent.

Abigail shifted a bit and grinned in her sleep. Carrie imagined that she was dreaming of happy times. Perhaps she was dreaming of Christmas. That beautiful Christmas Eve when she and her baby spent the day in the kitchen filling their home with aromas of chocolate, nutmeg, and ginger for their cookies, breads and homemade desserts. The sound of the “White Christmas” song. Not the Bing Crosby version... the Drifters version that Kevin groomed to in the Home Alone movie. The sights of pine garland accenting open spaces through-out their beautiful home.

But that beautiful day couldn’t last forever. It ended abruptly with the sight of her daughter running to greet her beloved father in an expanding doorway. The pungent smell of alcohol. The sound of a man angry because dinner didn’t appear to be ready. The feel of blow after blow. Shouting. Slapping. Threats. Begging. Tears. Whimpers. Apologies. More tears. More begging. More Promises. Resolution. Tomorrow, we start over again.

Or do we?

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