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showcaseon a field, and Destiny and her father like goalkeepers trying to deflect whatever came at them.Destiny straddled the armrest as if it was a horse and turned up the volume on theTV in the hope that her father would stop talking.‘Too loud,’ Granny called from the kitchen. ‘What do you think this is?’ Her cane thumped around the corner and she leaned into it.Destiny turned it back down.Granny had practically raised the girls. She’d been more pleasant in those days. She’d driven them to school, made their lunches, minded them after school while Peter worked at the gas station. When Destiny was 12, Granny slipped in the backyard and broke her hip. Everyone thought she was recovering, but two years ago she suffered a stroke that took out her left side and altered her personality. Walking became a challenge. Most days she seemed unwilling to accept this and appeared surprised when her son offered to move in.‘Mom, where’s Theresa?’ Destiny’s father asked.‘Why?’‘Because she’s smoking again in the house. She’s not supposed to. It’s bad for the baby.’Theresa, or Terri, was Destiny’s younger sister. She had changed schools three times in the past two years.Granny looked at Destiny’s stomach. ‘Maybe you should have told this daughter what she was and wasn’t supposed to do. My mother could have told her a story or two about what they did to girls in Ireland when they got knocked up.’Before her stroke, Granny never would have shared this much.‘Mom.’ Destiny’s father’s voice was weary.‘I just wanted to say that your girl is lucky, Peter. In Ireland, they took the baby away without asking. Sisters of St Magdalene Convent; that’s where they sent your grandmother. Locked her up for four years doing the nun’s laundry. Four years of her life wasted before she could get out of that joint.’Destiny turned up the volume again and train brakes squealed in a black night, its whistle and the sound of rolling steel rubbing away their words like rough-grade sandpaper.She had agreed with her father because she wanted to make him happy. They shouldn’t give up the baby. Once the decision was made, there was nothing to30 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiado but throw herself into trying to loveit, but she wasn’t sure what that should look like. It was easier in the days she was still pregnant. Destiny ate better, more vegetables and water, no junk food, no more pop or chips. She played quiet music on her phone and held it to her swollen abdomen. She quit smoking, quit drinking and partying. She finished the schoolyear and decided to postpone starting grade 12.They decided when the baby arrived it would sleep with Destiny in her room, but it was premature and fussy, and its nightly squalling soon drove Granny crazy.‘She and the baby need their own place,’ Granny said. ‘I can’t sleep at night.’‘We can’t afford another place,’ Destiny’s father said.‘What are you talking about? You were on your own with Destiny and Terri until a year ago.’Destiny’s father looked out the window, his eyes tracking a group of boys playing street hockey. None of them seemed able to get past the goalie, a brick wall of a kid.‘You’ve always had crappy timing,’ Granny continued. ‘You come crawling back to me when your daughter’s in this state.’‘I thought Destiny could use your help. She’s only 16.’‘I can’t be any help if I’m exhausted every morning.’So Destiny and the baby moved into their own apartment, in the cheapest building in town, not too far from Granny’s house.The apartment wasn’t good for Destiny. Loneliness hovered like a fog around her. She started imagining the baby was speakingto her, criticising her, hating her. Destiny understood all these feelings. It was howshe felt about her own mother when she’d left for another boyfriend. Destiny had just turned three at the time and Terri was stilla baby.V‘You’re such a strong girl,’ Destiny said. ‘You have to be strong to get by nowadays. You don’t want to make any mistakes, like I’ve done. I want you to be better off.’The baby’s short fine hair lifted and swayed like pale brown sea grass. Destiny thought a minute. She felt the same way she did the day of the attack. Survive. Just survive. That’s what strong girls do. But she should have fought him off; should have tried harder. And she should have told her father this was not her fault.She pulled the baby out of the water and a cry lodged behind the constriction in her throat. It was hard to breathe for both of them.She snatched up a towel and wrappedher daughter, so still and white. The baby’s eyes were closed and its wet skin shone; it didn’t make a sound. Tears littered Destiny’s cheeks and she held a finger under the baby’s chin. A tiny bead of life pulsed, so tiny itwas almost indecipherable, like a teammate yelling at her from the other end of the soccer field, words lost in the air between them. She wanted to run from this life. She was tired of trying to be perfect. She wanted to put on her cleats and bolt out the door.But if she did that, the baby wouldnot make it. She put a finger under her daughter’s nose and the air hardly stirred. She shook her tiny body, just a little. People at the Center said to never do this. Open your eyes. Open. Open.She set the baby down and instead of phoning her father like she wanted to, she dialled 911.This was no dream. This was no perfect world. She breathed into the baby’s nose and mouth like the operator told her. She did this what felt like too many times before the baby sputtered and cried and the men rapped on the door.They examined the infant. When they were satisfied, they wrapped a blanket around Destiny and the child. She tripped over her cleats as they left the apartment, her red soccer uniform suspended on a thin wire hanger in the front hall closet.RHONDA COLLIS lives in Vancouver and writes full time, having previously worked in publishing. She is also a volunteer reader for Canadian literary journal Prism. Her work has been placed in competitions, including winning the Fiddlehead Magazine competition 2013, and has appeared in journals including Room Magazine. She writes for at least one hour per day via a ‘contract’ with friends.anessa, the public health nurse had taught Destiny a particular kindof hold that soothed crying babies,one in which you folded one tiny armover the other, both over the baby’s chest, and cupped your fingers under its chin. It mimicked the tight swaddle of a blanket or the compression of limbs in the womb and calmed them instantly.This is what Destiny had done after she’d let go of the baby’s head. She pressed down until the baby’s back rested on the bottom of the blue infant bath. Small bubbles pricked the surface of the water, the baby’s wide blue eyes stared up at her.


































































































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