She sat in the dark at the kitchen table. Everyone was asleep. It had been a long day, but she wasn’t sleepy. She was never sleepy yet always tired. Tired for as far back as she could remember. She didn’t sleep so much as pass out for a few hours every couple of days. The meth kept her awake and the Valium helped her to relax in the mid-morning when business slowed down as the men went to work or back to their homes.
But today, she was clean. Today she only drank coffee and soda. She would resume her habits tomorrow, but for tonight, she needed to be alert and ignore the overwhelming craving to numb her thoughts, her pain, and the endless images of nameless men who bought her for the hour or two that day. The images faded as long as she kept moving. She knew if she ever stopped moving, she would die.
She looked at the lit candle on top of the cupcake that she placed in the middle of the table. She purchased 6 cupcakes from the store the day before, but she only needed one, so she tossed the others in the garbage as she left the store. She wrapped the remaining one in a napkin and carefully put it in her purse. She was careful not to crush it as she walked home. She hid it in the back of the top shelf of the pantry behind a canister of flour. No one had ever touched the flour or even the top shelf in the 3 years she had been living in the house, so she was certain it was safe.
After everyone was asleep, she had gotten up and retrieved the cupcake and placed the candle on top of it. She lit it in the dark and sat back and quietly cried.
She never got to meet the child she had lost, but she knew it had been a girl.
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