Mother and Daughter

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“Don’t let anyone steal your purse,” Emily said to her mother. Oh, god Liz thought. She’s seven and she’s taking care of me? How did that happen? It had been a few months since Emily was taken from her and placed in foster care. Luckily, Liz had managed to arrange for some time with her each month, and on this visit, she chose to bring her to a local ice cream parlor.


Liz was trying to maintain something like a parent-child relationship, but Emily hadn’t been playing along. As soon as they had arrived, Emily had ordered for herself, politely asked Liz what she wanted, and offered to pay. How can this be? Liz wondered, how did she become so grown up? Liz knew that she hadn’t been home often, but in her mind she excused it as simply working toward a better life for Emily. And somehow along the way, Liz had neglected the only person who really mattered.


Emily studied the ugly, cheap wallpaper above her mother’s right temple. The pattern was awful, but it was better than looking straight ahead, and into her mother’s eyes. It had been a month since Emily last saw her mom, and she looked worse than ever before. Her face alone made Emily want to cry. Liz’s eyes were red and unsmiling, with large bags underneath. Her cheeks were hollow and her skin was a tired, dull gray. It seemed to scream to Emily that money was tight and Liz was starving. The worst, though, was the fake, overly enthusiastic smile her mom wore and the hurried way she kept the subject away from her own life. Emily was young, but she had learned fast.





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