Chapter Thirty-Two

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Twenty-three years earlier

The fluttering dance in her abdomen woke her, and as she lay there, with her palm splayed over her tummy, she tried to visualise the life growing within. She'd never known colour in its true sense, but over time she conjured in her mind what a blonde haired child might look like, or a red or a brown... Whenever she thought of hair described as the colour of gold, she was reminded of the warmth of the summer sun's rays on her bare arms. The colour brown she likened to the strength of an old tree in a shaded forest, standing strong and with purpose. The spicy heat from a hot chilli pepper was what she imagined to be the colour, red. She smiled to herself as it squirmed away again and responded by patting her swollen stomach. She had no preference for hair colour or sex or her child's potential SPR. It was hers and Charlie's and that was what mattered.

As she drifted back to sleep, Cecily heard the front door quietly open and close and then the hushed voices of her father and brother in the living room next to her bedroom. She reached over to the alarm clock on the night stand and ran her finger over the dials; it was ten past three. Her father worked long hours to try to make his scrap metal business pay, but why were they home so late tonight, where had they been at this hour! She listened carefully, trying to make out their conversation, only hearing the odd word or two. Very soon they turned in for the night and Cecily was left worrying about her father. He seemed so distracted of late, his temper shorter than normal.

A little later, Cecily checked the alarm clock again; it was now four o'clock. She wished she was lying in Charlie's calming embrace instead of worrying about her father and how he was going to react to her news when the time came. Hopefully they would realise that Charlie would look after her and the baby and would grow to love him as a son. She loved her small family dearly, but they were overprotective and gave her little of the independence she strived for. The younger of two children, Cecily was the baby of the family, but being born sightless somehow secured her position as not just the smallest, but the weakest one too. The one whom everybody took great efforts to look after and yet took the least interest in. Sometimes she felt like the house pet, with her Father expecting her to remain home all day and yet become joyous at his arrival home. Her brother was no better. The stronger, older, more independent he became, the more they babied her and it frustrated her immensely.

Adam, her brother, was three years older than Cecily but they had always shared a close bond. He was her best friend, but recently he'd pulled away from her too, now unwilling to share the events in his life and he now unable to share the events in hers. Although saddened by this, she was actually grateful for it. Adam had been the one to persuade her Father to let her take the job at the clinic and stood up for her when her Father continued to argue against it. But lately he seemed too preoccupied to notice the changes in her. She still couldn't believe she had managed to get this far in her pregnancy without it being discovered. She shuddered at the thought of her deceit and the impact it was going to have on them all. Hold on, she said to herself and to the growing child inside, hold on for two more weeks and we will be in the North together, safe.

A couple of hours of light sleep later, she woke to the sound of her Mother's voice.

"Ceccy, can I fix you some breakfast before I run to the shops?" she asked.

Cecily yawned and stretched out her back, but remembering her condition, she hurriedly turned onto her side and shielded her protruding stomach in the folds of the blanket.

"No thank you, Mama," she replied, "I'm not feeling hungry." A wave of nausea washed over her and she fought off the desire to rush to the bathroom and reacquaint herself with the toilet bowl.

"You look pale Ceccy, are you not feeling well again?"

"No Mama, I'm fine, just tired."

"You rest up today, I will be back soon." Her mother padded back out of the room.

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