The woman was awakened by the sliver of light that peeked through the crack of the window, where the tattered sheet was unable to cover. Drawing her knees closer to her chest, she shivered in the morning chill. She turned over to her side to see if the child was still sleeping. Its eyes were closed and its chest was still moving slowly, up and down. They had survived another night.
It had been almost two weeks since they had arrived at the shelter, and money for a thicker blanket was scarce. Winter had been rough, but she was grateful to have a place where she and the child would be out of the cold. Slowly, she sat up and stretched out her limbs with a yawn. Her frame was slight but strong, and her eyes were glossed over with a coldness about them. Times had been tough on her, but she still survived.
There were many in her life that had come and gone once before. Empty promises just like empty pockets, never made the grade for making an escape. Some couldn’t handle the harshness of poverty’s stinging misery, yet were so quick to laugh and scold her for what she lacked. Sometimes she thought it best to pity those who couldn’t see her strength, and the love that she had for her child. It won’t always be like this, she thought often to herself.
She reached over to touch the head of the baby, laying in the crib covered with an institution blue slipcover, and paint-chipped sides. The baby slightly stirred at the touch of its mothers fingers against its temple, but remained asleep. The woman wiped a lone tear that had managed to escape from her right eye, betraying the stoic expression she too often held. The sun was up, and all too soon there would be the knock at the door. Inspections of the shelter space she and her little one currently resided in, albeit temporarily, were coming again.
It was funny how the staff that manned the shelter, seemed annoyed and bemused that there were no signs of neglect, cigarette butts or baggies strewn about, or other reasons that would get her evicted. She faced the narrowed eyes and the saccharine words with respectful but monotone responses, but her eyes belied her lips. She was an unrepentant fool to be hated and pitied all the same.
She made her way into the bathroom, to wash up for the day. As she splashed her face with water, she looked up from the sink basin to study her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes traced the lines at the corners of her eyes, and paused at her brow where the rose-colored scar still lingered. The woman’s rare moment of solitude ended abruptly. 7AM arrived with a knock at the door.
Alex Smith is an emerging writer who hails from the Midwest. When she is not thinking of short stories or poems to write, she enjoys spending time with her family and cooking. Alex can be found on Twitter @gritnvinegar