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Catharine Marie Caldwell, known to most as Cate, inhabits the hollow room at the end of a long hall, in a dismal basement. She has no friends to visit her, is the only child of an ever-absent mother. At the tender age of 16, she only weeps when looking into a mirror, while any other would gussy up to visit loved ones. A loner, in every sense of the word, with angry, mud-stained strands, she’s been deemed Crazy Cate.
Her father deserted her when her mother turned to rage, abused substances. Forever broken by such abandonment, Cate only blames herself, as does her mother. She goes hungry most days, her mother doesn’t care if she survives. Never has, never did, never will. Having to sacrifice even such a cramped space in her house was bad enough. But Cate would never betray her mother. If unbearable beatings were needed to further prove her love, then she would suffer just to have that one companion. For now, at least.
Tears stain her pillows, her clothes. She’s lost all faith-if God truly loved her, and did listen, then why must she endure such hatred? It didn’t make her stronger, she just hated herself more. But she knew better than to choose a lonely death. Her stomach grew fuller, expanded by the day. “I will be strong.” She promised. “I’ll never hurt you, my love.”
Tauntings increased by the day. Labeled a s***, a pyscho, a punching bag, whatever, she knew her only chance was to endure. Just a few more months, maybe then the dirty looks would soften,. She didn’t ask for Andrew, but he was the only thing that was truly hers. His father, to her, didn’t exist-one of her mother’s boyfriends that she emptied her mind of.
She kept a journal. With her plans for Andrew, their future. The only gift she’d been granted, wouldn’t be lost to her mother. He would accept her, love her, never leave her. If escaping such hell was the least she could do for him, than she’d do it. At any cost.
Twice a day she only acknowledged him: after waking, and before resting. So as not to draw attention, to lose him. Just “I love you.” He grew well, she cared for him as best she could. But there was no money for him. No solid plans. But she would never give him up-that she knew for sure.
Her heart was full of desires, but her life was almost a failure. School, friends, family. Except for Andrew. She wrote about him, to him, daily. Poems, sketches, stories about their future. Their freedom. Their love. She never let go of that collection, it was his. For no one else to see. At the very least, he would know of her love for him.
The day drew ever nearer. She cowered in her room at night, forever guarding Andrew. Her mother stumbled in earlier than usual that night. Cate listened, stifling herself, her breathing shallow. As if stabbed, she whimpered, but couldn’t let her mother hear. “I love you.”
She nearly crawled to a hospital that night, journal in tow. Shrieking with pain, she informed the nearest nurse that she was a runaway, couldn’t go home. Her baby was delivered by the only on staff nurses, no doctors seeming to care. Inhaling, he only cried sweetly, the only happiness Cate ever truly enjoyed.
A blood vessel had burst. There was no hope of survival. Carted off within the hour, the journal was discovered: “For Andrew, My One True Love.” Uncertain of what it was, the nurses skimmed the pages, decided that it was intended for the baby.
A family for him was found immediately. The nurses slipped the journal into his blanket. Having found it upon arriving home, his parents called him Andrew. Thought his mother was owed at least that.
He received it when he reached ten, able to read, and begin to understand. On the last page, he found a letter, addressed to him:
“My Dearest Andrew,
How I love you so. Chances are you’re grown now, possibly with a nice family. I knew I would never be graced by your embrace, the situation of my life so hard. But I want you to know how truly I love you, how much I wanted you. You are my gift, my one true happiness in this world. I wasn’t able to take care of you, but I would most love to be a part of your life. I know that you might hate me for deserting you like my father, your grandfather, did me. But I have only ever loved you, and this was your only chance at life. I did everything for you.
Catharine Marie Caldwell”