Chapter 10

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Gretchen wept, as she often did, on the floor. The surface was slippery with her tears and spit. The darkness that imprisoned her offered no solace.

How could she possibly provide for the one in her womb? It was predestined to live a miserable existence in the care of a weak woman, certainly not an existence worth fighting for.

Suicide would be selfish for her but mercy for the child. It seemed like a fair trade. Why bring anybody into a life that only offered unhappiness and regret? Sparing the child a lifetime of despair was a noble act, the right thing to do.

She made her way through the dark stairwell, to the roof, still weeping. She didn’t want this, but what other choice did she have?

“Gretchen.”

The voice from behind halted her. Though she hadn’t heard it in years, it felt normal. She wiped her face and faced her visitor.

“Daddy…”

She smiled. He frowned.

“What are you doing?” he inquired.

She was too ashamed to answer. Her eyes grabbed the floor.

“Don’t give up,” he said.

Meeting his gaze, “What can I possibly offer this child?”

“A life.”

She almost couldn’t say it, but she replied, “It’ll be too hard…for the both of us.”

“More than you know. I know you’ve struggled, but your greatest trial is yet to come. Yours and the child’s. She will see horrible things, things that will mark her forever. But don’t give up. Not yet.”

She was crying again. “What are you talking about, daddy?”

Wiping the tears from her face, “You’ll know soon enough.”

Then he was gone.

The End

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