Amy Sutton had never been a happy person. When her father walked out and left her mother, Amy had been placed into foster care. This was followed by long, hellish years of abusive foster parents, and foster brothers and sisters who resented Amy's presence. Things had changed a lot though. Now, aged twenty-five, Amy had built a real life for herself.
She dragged the vacuum cleaner into the bedroom, glancing around herself with a small smile. She loved it when the guests at the B&B cleaned up properly after themselves before they left. From the room next door, the sound of a television crept through the walls, and with a flash, one of Amy's foster fathers appeared in her mind. Joe. Three days earlier, Amy had been informed that Joe had passed away. She had spent four years in his care, and had hated every moment of it.
'You'll never amount to anything,' he had told her, on one of his drunken evenings in front of the television. Joe's daughter Bethany, had always kept in touch with Amy once Amy had turned eighteen and left foster care for good.
'I'm not really upset that he's gone,' Bethany had told Amy over the telephone.
'But he was your father,' Amy reminded Bethany. 'You must feel some sadness?'
'Of course. But that will never be enough to let me forgive how he treated me and my brothers. And you.' Amy shook her head as she replayed the conversation. She turned her attention towards the deep burgundy curtains, opening them and tying them back, letting the bright morning sunlight into the formerly dim room. She took a small opportunity to peek at herself in the mirror. Her chocolate brown eyes were truly eyes you could drown in. they were her best feature. Amy possessed a subtle kind of beauty, the type that sometimes isn't noticeable in a person until you really get to know them. She was kind hearted and honest, having learned a lot from everything she had been through.
Amy had been married for six months. Richard had simply swept her off her feet when they met, and he was the first person Amy had ever known who treated her with the love and respect that she knew she deserved. She and Richard had bought the B&B on a whim. This whim had turned out to be not only a good thing, but something that had opened many doors for Amy. She had gained more confidence thought talking to guests and had made several close friends in the small seaside village where she lived. Life, for the first time in Amy's world, was pretty perfect. Richard was already talking about having children, and Amy was in love with the idea of this, though she wasn't ready to throw herself into such a commitment too soon.
'You'll be a terrific mother,' Richard told Amy. His eyes sparkled with truth as he spoke, and Amy knew that he wasn't simply saying this to make her feel better.
'I'm scared though,' Amy had replied, 'I'm scared because I don't want to raise a child the way I was brought up.'
'You wouldn't be anything like your parents were,' Richard had whispered softly, and stroked Amy's hair.
'I know that,' Amy replied, 'but I still can't help wondering if we really do become our parents. If, no matter how hard I try, I'll still end up being neglectful like my father. Or I'll give my child up, just as my mother did to me.'
'The circumstances are very different.' Richard assured Amy, but deep down, although she was happy, she knew that she still had issues to work through before she was ready to have children. She remembered how it had been after her father left. How her mother had shouted at her, day after day, telling Amy that everything had been her fault. And then, Mrs Sutton had a breakdown. She had been screaming at Amy, when Mr Andrews from next door had come over and told her to keep the noise down. Amy's mother had flung herself at Mr Andrews, yelling and kicking and hitting out. Amy, only eight years old, had no chance of being able to pull her mother away. When Mrs Sutton had finally calmed down, and stormed back into the house, Mr Andrews had gone home and called the police, who had contacted the doctor. Dr Bailey told Mrs Sutton that she needed some time away from her daughter, and from the home where she had as many painful memories as she did happy ones. This made Amy blame herself for what was happening to her mother.
'Your mummy needs a break,' Dr Bailey had told Amy, as he pushed his thin glasses back up onto his nose. ' We've found you a nice family to stay with until she feels better.' And after that family, there had been another, then another, then another. Amy had never returned to live with her mother. She had seen her three times since the day she'd been placed into foster care. The past was always so painful. However, after all the time that had passed, Amy was learning to just let go, and move on.
Amy finally turned her attention back to the room. She flung open the wide windows, and inhaled the sea air. Across the road, there was a small coffee shop, and Amy could hear the voices of the customers drifting up to the window. She picked up the vacuum cleaner, switching it on, and kicking the tasselled rug out of the way so she could clean underneath it. She hummed to herself as she did this, feeling satisfied that things had turned out the way they had.
'So I'm not perfect,' Amy said aloud as she worked, 'but then, who is?'