The Past That Followed (take #one):

Charlotte bounced up and down on her mother's bed.
"Are you ready? Are you ready? Come on Mum!"

Sara Riley put a hand to her forehead, as her daughter's high-pitched persuasions pounded inside her head.

It was Charlotte's birthday. Money was tight, but Sara had promised her that they'd have a splurge day.

That was up until the bills had come in yesterday. The situation wasn't looking too good. Now, there had to be a change of plans.

"We're going to the shops, aren't we Mum? Aren't we?"

Sara nodded slightly, lying.
"Just go outside for two seconds, sweetie. Mummy needs to get ready."

Charlotte left the room, knowing that once her mother was ready, they would eat a special birthday breakfast and then they would be off, shopping for a whole day.

Once alone, Sara lay back down in bed. She loved Charlotte, she did, but sometimes she was a bit of a handful. Ever since Charlie had left them a year ago, things hadn't been going well.

"Damn it, Sara, she's my daughter too!" Charlie threw the remote towards her.

Sara ducked, letting out a small scream.

"Mummy?" she heard Charlotte call from her room.

"Stay inside, honey," Sara warned her daughter.

The door clicked shut, as Sara breathed a sigh of relief.

Her baby was safe for now.

"That's it Sara. I'm leaving."

Charlie slammed the door shut.

"But she needs a father," Sara whispered tearfully, too late.

They were probably better off without him now.
But Charlie had done most of the work and Sara's job at the boutique just wasn't quite enough.

Sara pulled herself out of bed.
Now wasn't the time to worry about these things.

She walked to the wardrobe and took out a light summer's dress. She set it out on the bed, before changing out of her pyjamas. At least she could try and look presentable on her daughter's birthday.

Ten minutes later and Sara stood back to look in the mirror. It was good enough. Her eyes wandered aimlessly to a photo on her dresser.

Three smiling people.

She turned back to the mirror again and tried to smile.
It was getting harder and harder these days.

A soft knock on the door and Sara turned to find Charlotte peeking in curiously.

"Are you done yet Mummy?" Charlotte whispered through the crack in the door.

Sara closed her eyes for a moment before smiling and picking her daughter up in her arms.
"Let's go Charlotte. Let's go to the park."

Charlotte looked at her mother, confused. The park?
"But Mummy, you said we'd go shopping!"

Sara shook her head, burrowing her face into Charlotte's mass of hair.
"I'm sorry, baby. Not today."

"But Mummy, it's my birthday!" Charlotte complained.
"I'm sorry, babes."

Charlotte thought for a moment.
"Well, at least pancakes, right?"

Sara looked at her daughter confused, before remembering the blueberry pancakes she used to make on her birthday.
"I'm sorry about that too, honey."

Charlotte stared at her mother. How could she forget?

Sara felt tears spring to her eyes, but she couldn't cry in front of her daughter. She just couldn't.

"Mummy, are you alright?" Charlotte asked, noticing the look her in her mother's eyes.

Sara nodded and smiled, the tears forgotten, if only until later that night.

"Let's go, love."

Charlotte took her mother's hand in her own small palm, and clung to it.

They walked together, not even five minutes, to reach the park. It was nothing much, just an old, rickety swing set and an unstable seesaw.

Sara looked down at her daughter. She was all she had in the world. Her parents hadn't thought much of Charlie and had more or less sent Sara packing once they had found out about Charlotte.

Charlotte ran off to the swings. She loved the swings; the feeling of soaring so high that you felt like you were flying.

Sara sat down on a bench, smiling as Charlotte ran to the swings. Her eyes fell closed, before she jerked awake after what felt like only two seconds. She looked towards the swings, but Charlotte was gone.

Charlotte stared into the bushes.
She took his hand.

Sara panicked. It wasn't like Charlotte to wander off. She would have come to tell her if she was going anywhere.
"Charlotte?" Sara called.

Charlie smiled at his daughter. Finally, she was all his. All his.
And Sara would never take that away from him.

Sara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the familiar head of dark, curly hair.
The girl turned around.
It wasn't her. It wasn't her baby.
Sara felt the tears flow down her face.

"Mummy?" Charlotte glanced back, then followed her father.

Charlie smiled at his daughter. Finally, she was all his. All his.

To the readers of LTOMM, I am very sorry for getting your hopes up about me updating. I haven't touched it since I last updated; I'm so very sorry. Instead, in the coming couple of weeks just expect several one-shots and stuff. We had an English creative writing thing, and I came up with a bunch of beginnings, so I'll be spending the next couple of weeks working on them, just coz. Oh yeah, and there's another one, the one that I actually handed in, but I won't post that until we get it back.

BUT I haven't forgotten about Kris and Jaiden... How could I?

Life is going very well at the moment... Cheesy grin.

You know what to do now that you've reached the end of my spiel...