Amy saw the Teddy Bear on the footpath and picked it up. She hugged it tight.
A mother saw her baby’s toy was missing, looked back and saw Amy holding it. She rushed over and glared at the child "thank you that belongs to me".
Startled, Amy shivered as the woman took it from her. She shrank back as if about to be hit, but the woman had already gone with her baby in the brand new jogging stroller. Amy watched her disappear at a fast pace down the avenue of trees.
Amy sat on the ground unmoving as if she had been hit. Her thin dress and plastic shoes were no shield from the cold, and in that moment she felt her loneliness as a deep hollow inside her chest. She soon moved back to the security of her favourite tree where she was shielded from prying eyes and the wind. It was her secret place where she sat most days. No-one to tell her what to do or ask questions to be answered with lies.
The teddy had been so comforting for the few seconds Amy had held it. She had felt so happy, before that woman had as good as accused her of stealing it. It had been on the ground, finders keepers.
Three days later Amy smiled when she saw the woman again, with her baby in the fancy buggy. The woman arrived at a cafe sweaty from her workout on the walking track and met two other woman, both with children. They talked and laughed and drank their soy decaf lattes.
Amy kept her head down and watched out of the corner of her eye, until the women got up to leave. She followed at a distance and saw them stop and talk, then they parted. Amy followed the woman with the baby when she crossed the road.
She went into a shop and the left the baby in its stroller near the door.
Amy breathed in deeply, moved quickly to the pram and picked up the baby. She walked down the road, turned several corners then double backed to a warehouse.
She heard no-one call out and no-one followed her.
The broken warehouse door opened when Amy pushed it, and she took the baby inside. Sitting cross-legged on the filthy floor, she cradled the baby in her lap. It looked up at Amy and gurgled. She rocked the baby and talked to it. She took off its bonnet and mittens and stroked its fine hair, felt its smooth skin and tiny fingers.
Amy sat there happily for an hour or more, while the baby slept, and soon she slept herself.
The baby’s screaming woke Amy suddenly and she panicked.