The thing with small towns – everybody knows everybody’s business.

I had ridden to the next town just to buy a pregnancy test kit. For seven stressful days and seven sleepless nights, I had kept the results to myself, almost as if I were an unwed mother. Eventually I made myself a promise. This was my decision, my responsibility. My baby would always have a family. There was no going back.

When he heard he was becoming a father, he was proud enough to buy the entire pub a round and pleased enough to permit me to work. The baby had to be provided for, and honestly, I was more than willing.

Smart, friendly, helpful, my princess was perfect. When she looked at me, like I was the most important person in the world, I determined that she was not going to waste her life like me. It didn’t matter if my back ached or my eyes burnt, her hug could cure everything.

Time passed like the bling of an eye and soon it was time for her to go to college. Tuition was expensive, but I had been saving up ever since she won first prize in middle school.

It was when I logged in to pay that I discovered I was down to minimum balance. It had to be a mistake. Definitely a mistake! I rushed to the bank. I had signed no cheque. I had withdrawn no money. And that’s when I realised the rumors had been true. He had debts, great big gambling debts.

Nothing moved him, not her tears, not my pleas. He just left for the pub like it was just another day.

I meant to follow him to continue pleading. I never realised that I had accelerated until I rammed into the tree.

The coroner came for him. The cops came for me. No questions were asked.

That’s the thing with small towns – everybody knows everybody’s business.

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Written for Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #90 challenge

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