Chapter One

At age sixteen Elody Sawyer figured out what her mother did for a living. What her mother did for her. Because, if she wasn't here, her mother wouldn't have had to take this desperate measure. She would have been able to live just fine off a waitress's salary.

A year later, Elody had had enough of knowing this and keeping it away from her mother. The guilt had started eating her up from the inside and now she couldn't take it anymore.

Elody Sawyer had finally summoned the courage to talk to her mother. She had to put a stop to this. It had to end.

She drummed her fingers on her lap as she sat on her mother's bed waiting for her to get out of the shower. She was determined to do this today, she had to stop it.

Just at that moment, Sarita Sawyer entered the room wrapped in a towel, drying her wet hair with another towel.

She appraised her daughter as she entered. The young girl looked incredibly tensed, worried and scared.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked as she pulled open the doors of her cupboard with a loud creak.

Elody hesitated. Instead of answering, she drank in the image of her mother.

Her mother was a very pretty woman. Her dark skin was flawless and she had all the features of the typical 'pretty' woman.

But her face always looked so closed off and dark. Like she was hiding some sort of big secret, and she indeed was hiding a secret.

Her mother had worry lines around her eyes for as long as Elody could remember. She always seemed to be deep in thought, in some other world that Elody had no idea about.

Very rarely did her mother smile, but when she did, it was the most beautiful smile ever. It filled Elody's heart with love and warmth only a mother could bring.

Sarita Sawyer was an incredibly serious woman. She was always weary and she had good reason to be this way. Since a young age, she had been dealt with all of life's bad cards, and that made her the way she was today.

The older woman looked at her daughter who was biting her bottom lip and drumming her fingers the way she always did when she was nervous or worried, even when she was a little girl.

She knew not to pressure her. She knew that she would tell her when she was ready.

So instead of asking her what was wrong, she started pulling on the clothes she had pulled out of her cupboard. She did not look at her daughter, but she could practically feel her thinking.

When she was done, she threw the towel she was drying her hair with onto her bed and sat down beside her daughter.

"So are you gonna tell me or are you just gonna sit here forever?" she asked as she leaned on the loose headboard of the bed. She placed a hand on her daughter's hand and stopped the drumming.

Elody closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Just get it over with, she thought to herself.

"Mum, I know," Elody blurted out. Elody opened her hazel eyes to see her mother looking at her, confused.

"I'm sorry?"

"I know what you do…" Elody said her voice not even close to sounding strong and steady like she wanted it to be.

"What I do?" Sarita asked, but there was a note of fear in her voice. Had her daughter found out about that or was she just talking about something else?

Silence again, another moment of hesitation from Elody.

"I know out what you do… at night…" she said meeting her mother's brown eyes with her own. Her mother's expression did not change; she still looked confused. But, Elody noticed that her mother's hand over hers was trembling.

"What I do at night?"

"Mum… please don't make me say it…" Elody begged. The older woman looked at her daughter for a moment, and suddenly her hard exterior broke. Her mask crumbled, and with it rushed out a flood of emotions.

"I'm sorry," the older woman cried, her words rushing out. "Don't think less of me Elody. I was desperate… I did it for you. I'm sorry."

"Mum," Elody said as she grasped her mother's hand. "Mum, I don't think less of you. If anything, I love and respect you more."

Sarita Sawyer stared at her daughter, her eyes filled with tears of shame, her lips trembling, her whole body trembling.

She never intended for her daughter to find out… ever.

"Mum," Elody started, "I didn't bring this up because I'm disgusted by you or anything like that. I brought this up because I want you to stop mum, I can't let this go on. I can't let you do this. I've felt so guilty ever since I found out; you don't have to do this."

"Elody," Sarita said attempting to make her voice sound strong, but it came out feeble and desperate instead. "I can't. We need the money… I have no other options Elody. I have no qualifications whatsoever in anything. I've tried finding a job; no one wants to employ me."

"I'm seventeen; I'm old enough to get a job. I'll get a part-time job and do my best to pull my own weight," Elody said, this time, her voice came out just as strong as she intended it to. She had to be strong. This time she had to be the one strong enough for the both of them.

"El…" Sarita started saying.

"I'm so sorry… I was just too scared to bring this up before mum… I wanted to put a stop to this the second I found out… I'm sorry I let this go on for so long," Elody gushed as she looked at her mother's face.

Her heart broke to see the brave face her mother always had on had broken. Her mother, for once, looked weak and vulnerable.

She looked broken.

"You have to understand Elody," Sarita said, pleading. "I was desperate. I was seventeen, I had no home, no job, I had nothing and I had a baby to raise. I searched for jobs when I was pregnant, but no one wanted to employ the pregnant teenager with no qualifications whatsoever. I hadn't even finished high school.

"I was desperate. I only got the job at Bell's later… but even then, that wasn't enough for me to take care of you."

"Mum," Elody stopped her, "mum, you don't have to apologize or explain. I understand. I'm the one who should say sorry. It's all my fault… I'm sorry I drove you to this."

"Elody, this is in no way your fault. You didn't ask to be born. And despite it all, despite all I've had to do, I in no way regret having you. You are the one good thing in my life… You are the only thing that keeps me going."

"Mum…" she said her voice breaking. The tears had escaped her mother's eyes and were now rolling down her cheeks.

She leaned over and wrapped her arms around her mother's neck. She felt wetness on her shoulder where her mother rested her head.

"I love you so much mum," Elody said. "You've done so much for me. I just… you're the best mum anyone could ever have. I'm so lucky to have you."

Sarita sniffed as she buried her head in her daughter's shoulder.

"I have so much respect for you mum. I really do." And her voice was full of so much emotion, that Sarita knew she was being honest, that she was telling the truth. That she wasn't just saying it to make her feel better.

"Please stop it now, okay mum?" Elody said.

"Thank you Elody," Sarita said to her daughter.

"Thank you mum," Elody said as she buried her head in her mother's damp locks, "thank you."

Jaydon Harper walked down Crimson Avenue hand in hand with his little sister Isobel Harper. She was skipping along beside him, carefree and happy, the way she always was.

Despite the cheery chatter coming from the six year old, Jaydon's mind was full of other worries. Worries about his best friend and how she was doing right now.

He wondered if she broke the news to her mother already. He wondered how her mother reacted to this. And he wondered whether it all went to plan.

Jaydon was pulled out of his thoughts when he realized that the happy chatter had stopped. Confused, he looked down at the girl with the blonde pigtails who he was holding hands with.

He followed her line of vision and located what she was looking at.

His heart broke when he saw what she was looking at with that desperate, hungry look on her face.

She was looking at a little boy, about the same age as her, licking greedily at a large double scoop ice cream cone.

She had a look of utter longing on her face. He felt his heart shatter into a million pieces at the expression on his little sister's face.

He wondered how long it was since she had ice cream.

They didn't have much money to spare on treats like this at his house. All the money earned went into his father's glass. They barely had enough money to make the bills and pay the mortgage, let alone buy random treats like ice-cream.

"Iz," Jaydon said squeezing his sister's hand. She immediately looked away from the boy, a guilty look on her face. "I wish I had money to buy you one…" he said as he met her big blue eyes.

"I wasn't looking Jaydon…" she said a tone of guilt in her sweet voice. Mother always reprimanded her whenever she looked at another person, or another person's belongings with longing. Their mother always told them not to want things they couldn't afford.

"Iz," Jaydon said again, and he let go of the little girl's hand and instead, wrapped his arm around her and pulled her towards his body.

He really wished he had money on him to get her ice cream. He really did. But his pockets contained no money whatsoever; he gave all the money he earned this week at his part-time job to his mother. She needed it more than he did.

There were bills to be paid and his mother had no money to pay them with. Not after the drunk he called his father took all of his own pay out last week and drank it all away.

Anger flaring up in him against his father, he let go of the little girl and took her fragile hand in his again.

And with that, the siblings walked down the streets of Brooklyn together. Killing time until it was safe for them to go back home.

Author's Note- So this is a new story I've been writing. I've had the idea in my head for a while.

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