Accidental Science Experiment

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I was the one you weren’t suppose to see. Ever. I was the one who never should have existed. Ever. I was the one no one wanted. Ever. And now I had a destiny to fulfill. Forever.

If I remember the stories correctly, I was received into this world a little after two in the afternoon. Everyone had just finished their lunch, and I was quite a surprise. Not quite what anyone had expected after their daily round of bland turkey sandwiches from the cafeteria.

You see, I was quite a mistake. I was never intended. Actually, I’m quite unethical, but they won’t admit that anymore. Not when they are personally sharing in my sufferings.

My name is Agko, well actually AGKO. Accidental Gene Knock-Out. I didn’t pick it.

I was the product of some psychological research intending discover the function of certain genes in humans. They were doing whatever they do, and took out some of my genes to see what would happen if they were gone. And voila! I think that’s the term people use. I was brought into being. They don’t know how I was created and certainly don’t know how, so we are stuck at this little grey area where I am constantly observed for adverse side-effects. What an odd thing to say.

Well, they all tell me I look like a ten-year old child, but I’m not really sure what that means. Whether it’s a compliment or an insult. I’ve even heard that I’m from “The Twilight Zone.” It really does sound like a nice place, and I’d love to visit someday, but I’ve never really seen a ten-year old child. Apparently, my appearance is unsettling or unnatural for them. Some say that’s the worst part about my untimely appearance, while others say it’s that I appeared at all. Let me tell you, if I had know the reception I was going to receive upon arriving, I would have been against it too.

At least they gave me my own room, and lots of things to keep me occupied. I’ve heard whispers that they are trying to figure out how I got there. They were trying to find another one of me, yet they didn’t really want another. So fickle, I tell you.

Someone suggested I write down my point of view, but I really don’t think it worth noting. I understand them as much as they understand me. Besides I have nothing incredible to write about. My whole life has been lived in a box illuminated by an overly-harsh light.

I had better end my little “life” story. They are coming for me now. I assure them that I am not suffering or in pain in any way, shape, or form. Still they insist that they are sending me to “a better place.”

The simplicity they have given me so far gives me doubt of anything “better.” But who knows? I certainly don’t.

The Photograph

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Emily had always promised to clean out the attic. She loved old things and all the memories they brought forth. It was a trip into the past, and she absolutely adored the history behind everything. It wasn’t much of a surprise seeing as how she intended to major in history. She wanted to be a teacher.

Her grandma had been a teacher. She had been a kindergarten teacher, but she had still instilled the love for education into Emily. Now she was gone, and this was why Emily was here. Here in her attic, cleaning up everything so they could sell the house.

Her grandmother had so many antiques, it made Emily smile when she wasn’t sneezing from all the dust. She found some old newspapers and began scanning the headlines. “Yankees Defeat Phillies”; “Chinese Forces Invade Tibet”; “First Transatlantic Flight!” and more screamed out at her in bold black letters. She couldn’t believe she was holding papers that were approximately sixty-five years old.

She stopped to read some of the articles, pretending that she had lived in 1950. Many of the stresses she had today would have been replaced with many different ones. She would not have had to worry about college or money, but finding a job, and husband, and starting a family. If she had been twenty-one then, she would have lived through World War II and part of the Great Depression. She liked to think that she would probably have been a volunteer nurse during the War.

As she came to the bottom of the box, she noticed an old photograph face-down. She assumed it was related to the newspapers, but but on the back, Maria and Tony, 1950, were written.

Her excitement doubled when she saw her grandmother’s name. And it was a photo of her! It must be one of her old friends too! Her grandmother never spoke about anyone she knew growing up. She only talked her family, and her husband, Paul, Emily’s grandpa. She also never seemed to have any pictures of herself when she was young. Emily calculated that her grandmother would have been about thirty years old in the photograph.

When she turned it over, she was amazed by what she saw, and she nearly dropped it.

Her grandmother stood in a wedding dress, kissing this man, this Tony, before an altar. They had been married? She had been married before grandpa? How come she never said anything?

Emily put the photo into her purse so she could take it home. She didn’t plan on showing it to anyone, but she wanted it as proof or a reminder for herself for some reason. Maybe because it was the only picture she had of her grandmother at an early age. Or maybe it was like some secret she had just been let in on and she wanted to protect it.

Why hadn’t her grandma said anything? Emily could only suppose her had grandmother wanted to keep things in the past where she had left them.

The New Job

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As midnight approached, it became a little bit darker in the small coastal town in Massachusetts. It was the time of year in which there was a bitter chill in the air and the dead leaves, fallen from trees, crunched underfoot. It was expected to freeze tonight, but at least it would not rain.

Milburn was at least thankful for the weather. It made his job a little bit easier. He didn’t care very much for his new job, and he knew everyone else didn’t either, but he had fallen on hard times. The economy was bad, and he had been quick to lose his former job.

What was a man to do? He had a wife and three children to feed. No one would hire him; no one was hiring anyone. He needed the money, badly. He couldn’t let his family starve. They depended on him, and he knew it.

To top everything off, his wife, his beloved Linda had suddenly become ill. While the economy dropped, the price of medical treatment didn’t. Then his insurance dropped them. Some excuse about her condition violating some clause in the contract, making it void. The insurance company didn’t have to pay a dime.

Milburn no longer had any family to turn to for help, and his wife’s family severed all ties with her when she married. They didn’t approve of the marriage; they said he couldn’t take care of her. Milburn loved his wife more than anything else, but more than once, his mind agreed with her family when he had fallen on hard times.

He had always been a hard worker, and so had she. When they had their first child, they realized it would save them money if Linda stayed home instead of paying for daycare. They had definitely watched their money carefully. Some days, they had to skip meals or hardly eat anything at all.

And when Milburn was laid off, it was almost like the end of the world for them. But they had to make do; they had to survive. They had to. The worst part was, they knew families who were still worse off than themselves. There was nothing to be done. No one helped them, no one seemed to care.

Milburn hated that. He hated admitting defeat, so he hadn’t. He moved from town to town, looking for any kind of work that would pay any kind of money. The only problem: he didn’t have a college degree. He didn’t even have his high school diploma. He had dropped out and joined the army for six years before he met Linda.

Nobody cared that he had been a soldier. Nobody cared that he had seen people die. They cared whether or not he had finished high school. To them, without a diploma he was worthless. It broke his heart. He had given so much, and no one cared.

He had asked for help; the banks refused. They repossessed the house, leaving him only the car. It was the only thing he had to move his family from one town to the next looking for a life source; a job.

Many nights he prayed to God. Prayed for safety, security, and health for his family. Nothing changed. Milburn figured that God had stopped listening. When things became bad enough, he could no longer find the strength within himself to turn to God.

And he had come to this. He hated it. He hated his new life, his new job. He hated the circumstances, how he got here; everything. He would have given up long ago if he had been by himself, but he needed to protect his family. They needed him.

So he was here. Wishing that if God turned out to be real that he wouldn’t be condemned for this.

As he quietly crept toward the strangers’ house, he prayed they wouldn’t be home. He just needed take some of their valuable things before they returned home, then he would be gone, and out of this town. He hated to do it, but it was his only option. The cruel world had left him no choice.

A Bus and Some Rain

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Of course it was raining. It was just like a scene out of one of those cheesy movies. The mood of a depressing scene where the hero is deeply hurting is set by an onslaught of rain and wind. I guess it would have been disheartening if it had been sunshine and rainbows.

While I can commend the rain for setting the mood, it was definitely going to make walking half a mile to the bus stop a nightmare. I’m sure there were bound to be huge puddles on the dirt road by now, and if I wasn’t already getting soaked, my bag was already slipping out of my hands.

But I couldn’t stay.

I couldn’t stick around and wait for the weather to clear up. I needed to leave before anyone noticed. It would be easier that way. They wouldn’t be able to stop me and talk me into staying. I cannot let myself be persuaded. I have to go.

That’s when I heard it. I thought I was dreaming or hallucinating, but the shout, “Samantha!” was as clear as day. It wasn’t until I saw Connor running after me that I realized the shouts were coming from him. He had found me out.

I turned and kept walking, a little faster now, pretending that I hadn’t heard him or that he just didn’t exist.

“Samantha!” He caught my arm and turned me around to face him. “What are you doing? Where are you going? And at a time like this? It’s pouring!”

I could feel the words catch in my throat before I could say them. All I could get out was a faint whisper and not what I had originally wanted to say, “I have to.”

“What?” He gave me the most confused look in the world. It was as innocent and unbelieving as a child who answered the teacher’s question confidently and has been told he was wrong. “I don’t understand. Come back to the house with me. We’ll get this all straightened out.”

“No!” The word shot from my mouth before I could stop myself. My emotions were catching up to me. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Connor wasn’t supposed to be here, stopping me from getting on a bus.

“Why?” Then it dawned on him, “Are you leaving? Why are you trying to leave?” He was right. I couldn’t say anything, and that was all the conformation he needed. “You can’t leave. Max needs you.”

I thought I was gaining control of my emotions, but when he said that I was lost again. “Need me? He doesn’t need me! He has Kevin and his wife! There’s no need for me anymore!”

“You know that’s not true, Samantha. Max needs his mother, not his father’s wife.”

I hadn’t noticed the tears streaming down my face until Connor reached out to brush them off.

Connor had always been a great friend, but in this he was wrong. He didn’t see the truth. He didn’t see how Kevin had grown cold and distant. He didn’t see my heart break when I found out my husband was seeing someone else. He didn’t see how bad my pain was when Kevin handed me the divorce papers. He didn’t see my pain when my lawyer informed me Kevin wanted sole-custody of my son. He didn’t see how Kevin and his new wife pushed me away even though they hadn’t completely won the custody battle. He didn’t see how they blamed me; for everything. I was the cause of everything went wrong. Connor didn’t see how Kevin and his wife did everything in their power to keep Max away from me. From his mother.

I couldn’t take it anymore. Max didn’t need me, and as much as I needed him, he wasn’t mine anymore. I couldn’t bear to stick around and see how happy Kevin and his family were. Not when he had destroyed mine, and took everything from me that made me happy.

I couldn’t stand it. I could only hope that distancing myself from it would make the pain more tolerable.

“I won’t let you leave,” Connor said.

“I wasn’t asking your permission, Connor. You’ve been great to me, but this is not your call.” I turned and started walking down the road again. I could tell he hadn’t started following me yet. I knew he would, but at least my words had gotten to him a little bit.

Then I heard him call out. “You think this will make you happy? You’re wrong!”

Now it was my turn to be stopped dead in my tracks by his words.

“The pain doesn’t go away no matter how much distance you put between you and the thing that hurt you. I should know! If you care anything for Max, you won’t leave him.”

He was right. He had lost his fiancee two months before their wedding. He knew pain. He knew that I couldn’t fix the hurt by running away.

Somehow, his words in that moment change my mind, and my resolve. I would stay. I would stay for Max. Even if no one wanted me here, I had to try.

The Silent Observer

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My life has been an extraordinary one. I have seen many things and been many places. I have seen the greatest moments of human nature and I have seen the worst. Although all these exquisite things happened around me, I never interfered with anything; I was the silent observer. To this day, I have no qualms about what my life turned out to be.

From what I remember, I first came to stay with a man of the name Bisset around the end of the 18th century. He had a difficult life, and it was a pity to see him suffer. His wife had left him for his brother, and she had taken all that he had saved. She had left him hopeless as well as destitute, and it was because of this that he sent me onward.

I momentarily resided near Marseilles, but I was swiftly moved inland to live with a Count and his wife. She believed herself to have excellent taste in decorating her home. I have always inclined to agree with her. She had few skills, but decorating was certainly one of them. She was also a perfect host and that was how I came to meet some of the great members of society. Parties were quite common, until they weren’t. From what I could tell, the Count was quite smitten with her looks and skills until she failed to produce a son for him. She failed to produce any children for that matter. The physicians said that her body was too weak to bear children. They tried to continue to be happy, but we could all see some invisible void between them. Regretfully, she caught ill in the winter a few years later and died. The Count turned to drinking and gambling in his grief, and lost everything. He had to sell his home and everything in it to avoid debtors’ prison. It was at this time that I was forced to move on.

My memory at this point seems hazy, but from what I can recall, I moved closer to Paris and resided with a Monsieur Beaumont. His house was situated on a small, but lovely hill in the country. The little town nearby offered a different variety of people than I had been accustomed to with the Count, but it was an enlightening change. I never considered myself much of a drinker, but here, the local citizens often held public balls, where I was dowsed with wine and spirits. That’s probably why I have some difficulty recalling exactly what happened until I moved into Paris.

Paris was a great center of culture and I met many kinds of people. Some went to the opera regularly; some never did. Some people were always served their meals, while some were always the servers. Many had dreams, but only some accomplished them. Only slightly a few more eventually found love.

I believe that around the middle of my life, I was cleaned up, and sent to the Court. The King did not care much for me, while the Queen was nearly beside herself with joy. I lived at Court for many years and saw many things. Most of them related to politics, and most of them unjust and wrong. I never approved, but it wasn’t my place to mettle.

I am still unsure as to why, but I suddenly left court for a life in the country. I believe it was with an old servant of the crown. She was a nice elderly woman, and it was at her beach cottage near Calais that I came to permanently reside. She was kind and took care of me, but at this time, I am sure I was fairly bedraggled.

She would often look at me and wonder about all the different things I had seen. She was right, of course. I had seen couples fall in love, and I had seen marriages fall apart. I had seen trust and betrayal. Honor and respect, support and encouragement. I had seen many people smile, and some cry. I had seen children grow into young adults mimicking their parents, and adults grow into elders who depended on their children. None of this I was able to tell the old maid, but it didn’t change the fact that I had seen it.

I wish I could have told her. Told anyone. Maybe someone would have written it down, but maybe not. I couldn’t wish my life to be any different. The life of a chair.

New Shoes

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Ouch. Every time Tanya moved, she could feel the pain shoot through her feet. She was constantly trying to move as little as possible to avoid the pain, and the Tylenol had barely done anything to numb it. It she hadn’t been relaxing with her feet up at that precise moment, she most likely would have cried.

In one day, more like a few hours, she had become the proud new owner of three blisters on her feet. One on each of her heels, and one on her right pinky toe. Her pinky toe almost looked like it was swollen to twice the normal size. As it was, she had hardly be able to walk without one of the blisters touching her shoes.

Brett had bought her new shoes as a birthday present. They were at least a size too small if not more. They hurt her feet from the moment she put them on, but Brett had nearly demanded she wear them when he took her out to eat to celebrate her birthday.

They were very pretty brown boots, but that didn’t change the fact that they were too small and rubbed against her feet all night. She even knew it was going to happen, so she wore extra thick socks to cushion the blow, but it didn’t help. At least not that she noticed.

Tanya hated lying to Brett by telling him that she loved the shoes. She loved the way they looked, just not the way they fit. Had they been the correct size, she was positive she would have loved them. He had tried so hard to get her something out-of-the-ordinary, and it was thoughtful of him. The last thing she wanted to do was offend him by telling him there was something wrong with the boots.

Regretfully, while at the restaurant, she had counted down the moments until she would arrive back at home and could take her shoes off. She knew she shouldn’t be focusing on her discomfort, but she couldn’t help it.

She had even gone so far at the end of the night as to mention to Brett how “she had so many shoes now, she should be set for years.” The best she could hope for was that he wouldn’t notice her complete lack of wearing them.

If anything, Tanya was thankful for the weekend so she could sit back and relax all day without hurting her feet, while allowing them to heal. God only knows what she would have done if it had been the middle of the week, and she would have had to go to work and stand on her feet all day.

Tanya absolutely loved his thoughtfulness and candor, but another thought, and she made herself a reminder to casually mention to Brett that all his future gifts should not be clothes. He had such great taste when it came to other things.

Prom Night

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That was it. The final decision; the final blow. How could this have happened? Happened to her? She thought she was prepared for everything, but apparently she was wrong. This was devastating.

Renee and Daniel had been dating for two years now. Two blissful years. The regular disagreement here and there, making it up like they were supposed to, and spending as much time together as possible. Just like any normal relationship.

As Renee looked at the picture of both of them standing together, it was all she could do not to rip it in half. She had been wearing her favorite red dress when they’d met at a friend’s party. He’d asked for her phone number and she had given it to him. It wasn’t until the day after, when he’d called, that she had really felt beautiful.

His photo just served as a reminder to everything she thought they had in common. They both liked museums, nature, live performances and comedy. In her eyes, they had been perfect for each other. Now she doubted herself. Was it all a lie?

Renee’s eyes swelled with tears when she thought about how he was the last boyfriend who would ever get to meet her Grandmother. She had died shortly after meeting Daniel. Something she said still rang in Renee’s ears, “He’s your perfect match. He truly loves you. Never let him go. I know you’ll have the kind of love with him that your Grandpa and I had.”

Now she would never know. She only hoped that her Grandmother wouldn’t be disappointed in her for letting their relationship deteriorate. It was her fault wasn’t it? She had been perfectly fine where she was at and she was stupid for thinking Daniel wanted the same thing. She could never forgive herself now for all the “what ifs.” Now, it was taking everything in her not to cry. She would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

Daniel had told her they needed to talk. She thought he was going to confirm what time to pick her up for their Senior Prom that night. He had waited long enough, so she had already gone out and bought a dress. It was the most beautiful and expensive one she had even gotten for a high school dance. She knew it would all be worth it.

He didn’t ask her to the dance. As a matter of fact, he already had another date; Sylvia, a junior. They had been seeing each other for about a month already, and Daniel had finally decided that he should end his relationship with Renee.

The worst part was, Renee hadn’t even seen it coming. He hadn’t seemed distracted or distant. He never acted annoyed, or unfaithful. His confession completely blind-sighted her. It never even occurred to her that Daniel would be capable of such a cruel betrayal.

Now it was too late to find a date for the Prom, and she cringed at the idea of tagging along with one of her friends and being the third-wheel. She couldn’t stand the thought of going to prom and seeing them together. Unfortunately, she bought her dress as-is; no exchanges or refunds. She wouldn’t be able to stand the embarrassment. She would never be able to live it down or face any of her friends again. She didn’t know if she could control her emotions after so fresh a wound, and she was worried about what she might do. It was better just to stay home, where no one could see her.

She had thought that this would be a night to remember. She was right. She knew she would be up all night crying.

Midterm Season

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It was the middle of the semester. Midterm season had begun and so had the endless late night study marathons. Two midterms this week, two next, and an exam after that. Maybe a quiz or two sprinkled in and Anna knew she had the ingredients to drive herself crazy. All in the name of education, and career. And it wasn’t even the finals yet.

As her green highlighter passed over a few lines in her Chemistry notes, she couldn’t help but think how all of her work would eventually pay off. She needed the good grades. She needed the credits and the perfect GPA. She needed to be flawless.

Medical school demanded it. Her parents demanded it. She still had a couple years to go, but her parents had already bought her study guides on how to pass the MCAT. She needed a good score if she wanted to go to Harvard Medical.

But she didn’t want this. She never had. Her parents wanted it for her. They had constantly conditioned her from an early age to work and thrive towards medical school. They had never once asked her what she wanted. That was life, and she could only make the best of it. They payed the tuition bill.

As the little heart-shaped drawings in the corner of her notes caught her eye, she was reminded about everything she was missing out on. She had drawn that heart a few weeks prior when Kyle had caught her eye and held it. She had heard that he wanted to ask her out, but didn’t have the nerve. Sandra had invited her to a party a day or two before, but she had been too behind in her studies to accept. She even knew Kyle was going to be there.

Sacrifices; that’s all she ever did for this dream her parents held. All she wanted to do was be a journalist, but her parents would never accept that. They expected more; they expected the best, and she couldn’t bear to deliver anything less. Her parents were probably right. She’d be a starving artist if she went with journalism, and becoming a doctor would mean prestige as well as security.

Anna was suddenly awakened from her thoughts by the annoying and loud fire alarm. It was impossible to ignore, but she supposed that was a good thing. She grabbed her purse, keys, water bottle, and books as she headed out the door. She could continue studying over in the main hub, while the building was cleared. She didn’t have a moment to waste. Her studies were important to her.

She had to become a doctor. She couldn’t disappoint her parents now, not after Clarence had died too young to accomplish his dream. It had been her older brother’s ambition to become a physician. She owed him at least that.

The Drawing

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Cecilia had a difficult time remembering things. Her name. The date. Where she was. Who people were. It was just one of the side effects of getting old.

 

She had laughed when her friends began losing their memories, but suddenly it was not as funny when the tables were turned. She had enjoyed life. She had gone to school, started a career and traveled the world.

 

She had been an artist. A fairly good one at that. She loved drawing and painting people in their natural settings. They seemed so at ease. They seemed real. Each picture portrayed a different person, and each picture told a different story.

 

A mother washing her children’s clothes. A young brother protecting his sister by holding her hand as they walked down the street. A couple reuniting after a long separation. A father reading to his children as they fell asleep on his lap. A grown daughter comforting her ill mother.

 

She loved the kindness and love that shown in the eyes of her subjects. Cecilia had seen many kind acts in her lifetime, and she wished to share her experience with the world. Cecilia had never achieved any notoriety except for in her small hometown.

 

She was content. She did not yearn for fame or fortune, but for happiness, and beauty. True beauty that is not found in appearances, but in character. She had found, and lost beauty many times.

 

A slight smudge brought her back to reality. Reminiscing was pleasant, especially at her age, but it distracted her from her charcoal drawing. She drew quite frequently, and it was always whatever image appeared in her head.

 

The charcoal pencil held in her hand flew seamlessly over the paper. Cecilia’s hands had no hesitation whatsoever when it came to this drawing. She had the perfect vision of what she wanted to draw, and she was not going to allow it to escape. 

 

As the charcoal began adding the finer details to her picture, she realized she was drawing wrinkles. Funny, she had originally set out to draw a picture of a landscape she remembered from France, yet here before her, stood a portrait. A portrait of a man.

 

She had no idea as to who the man might be. Probably a perfect stranger she had passed by on the street one day.

 

As Cecilia finished the portrait, she wiped her face. For some reason her cheeks were wet. She was crying.

 

Behind Cecilia sat countless pictures of the same man. She did not know who he was, and she never remembered that she had already drawn his portrait. She never realized she was crying until she was done with the portrait, and she never knew why she was crying.

 

The nurses around the corner whispered to one another. They prayed for and pitied the old beautiful artist who could not remember her husband.

The Attic

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It had been a long time since Sylvia had cleaned the attic. The last time she could remember was two years after she married Mark.

Mark, the love of her life, who was now happily married to someone else. She still missed him, but not enough to regret the divorce. By the time they sat down will the lawyers, they had grown apart.

The separation was difficult, but mutual. Their relationship had been through hell and back. There was nowhere left for it to go. So they both let go. Mark moved out, and Sylvia kept the house full of painful memories. Despite that, she could never bring herself to sell it because it still stored the past hopes and dreams of the future. A future that was no longer possible and never existed to begin with.

So instead, they turned to their careers and away from each other. That was life. Sylvia knew that kind of thing happened, but she never would have suspected it would happen to her. It seemed unreal.

As she cleaned, she opened boxes and look at the items inside. Most brought back happy memories of family, love, friends or school, but a few contained Mark’s things which resurfaced the sad divorce.

How she longed for things to be the way they used to be. Canvas and paint. Mark painting on the porch at dawn. Christmas sweaters. Aunt Sally’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. Flowers. Tossing her wedding bouquet to Mark’s sister.

They had established so many ties, it seemed wrong to sever them. Sylvia never saw Mark’s sister anymore. They had become good friends. She had not lost just Mark, but some of his connections as well.

Sylvia kept going through boxes. She had never considered moving on, and now this was her first step. She was going to have a garage sale to get rid of all the things that would have no room in her future. She didn’t want to move on, but she had no choice. It had been ten years since the marriage, and five since the divorce.

This was all her fault. If she just could have been content with her life, she wouldn’t have pushed their relationship, and none of this would have happened. She had broken them. She had wanted more. She was the cause of her own pain and suffering.

She finally came across a box marked Never Used. When she opened it at saw what was inside, she found the source of her pain and began sobbing uncontrollably. Baby Clothes.