"Meera, sweetie it's time to get up." I say gently shaking her shoulder.
"Mmmmmmm? I'm up." Meera says smiling up at me.
"Morning, breakfast is in the kitchen. I'm going to go get Charlie, please get dressed." I say walking out of the room.
"Charlie, wakey wakey." I coo picking up Charlie.
Charlie giggles and tugs lightly on my hair. I laugh, cradling her in my arms as I walk to the kitchen.
“Ana, can you get the nutella down for me?” Meera asks.
“Sure.” I say setting Charlie down on in her high chair.
I grab the nutella from the cabinet and hand it to Meera. Before moving to fix some baby formula. I pick up Charlie and feed her the bottle, while Meera gobbles down her toast. I quickly glance at my watch.
“Oh dear! Hey Meera sweetie, grab your stuff. If we don’t leave now we’ll be late.” I say.
Meera nods and stuffs the rest of her toast into her mouth as she runs upstairs. I put Charlie back in her high chair before putting everything away and cleaning the dishes. I swing my backpack onto my back and pick Charlie back up.
“Meera!” I shout.
Meera races up to Charlie and I with her backpack. I smile and we exit our apartment. I quickly lock the door and take Meera’s hand. We walk to Meera’s school. I kiss Meera cheek, when I drop her off with her teachers.
“Have a good day sweetheart!” I shout walking away.
“Bye Ana!” Meera shouts waving.
I smile and shift Charlie on my hip. I quickly walk to Charlie’s daycare.
“Hello, Miss Catur. Hello Charlie.” Mrs Richards says.
“Hey. I’ll leave her in your hands. Um I don’t know when I’ll be back tod-” I say handing Charlie to Mrs Richards.
“Stop. I’ll take care of Charlie and Meera tonight until you can get home.” Mrs Richards says.
“Thank you! How much will I owe you?” I ask.
“$25.” Mrs Richards says.
I nod and race out the door so I won’t be late for school. As I approach my school I slow to a walk. By the time I walk into the building my breathing has slowed to a normal rate. I lower my head as I walk to my locker. I quickly grab my book and race to my history class. I take my normal seat in the back of the classroom.
“Well look whos here.” Paige sneers at me.
I keep looking down and shrink down farther in my seat letting my hair fall in front of my face.
“Oh what’s this I see, little Anastasia is ignoring us.” Paige says in her sickly sweet fake voice.
“Why are you ignoring Paige, bitch?” Ping sneers grabbing my hair and yanking my head up.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t-” I squeak out.
“Save it loser.” Paige smirks.
“Everyone get seated. Its time for class.” Mr. Mahon says.
“This isn’t over, Anastasia.” Paige whispers.
Ping lets go of my hair. Paige and her posy sit down. I sigh quietly in relief and pay attention to class. History was ok. It isn’t one of my favorite classes but it was kind of interesting today. We learned about slavery. I quickly race out of the classroom after history. Fortunately, Paige and Ping and their posy didn’t follow me. After that the day went by pretty well. After school I run out of the building and down to my job.
I have a part time job at W. Mandeville Bakery. The owner and his wife are very kind to me. They give me the leftover bread from the bakery every day as well as a couple of pastries for Meera and I. They even give me milk, eggs and sugar. When its Meera’s birthday they made her a beautiful birthday cake and refused any money for the cake.
“Hey! Sorry I’m late!” I say as I enter the bakery.
“Its ok. Go get your apron on.” Maggie says smiling at me.
I smile back and put my apron before going to help Frank in the kitchen.
“Hey Ana. Can you get the cakes from the oven?”
“Sure.” I say grabbing the oven mitts to get the cakes.
“Ana I heard that the UK X factor is here in Cheshire.” Frank says as he mixes some dough.
I freeze and turn around slowly, “What are you trying to say?”
“Oh nothing, just that you have a chance to follow your dreams.” Frank says shrugging.
“Frank, we’ve talked about this. I can’t.” I say as I continue to unload cakes from the oven.
“Don’t you want to at least try? I heard the prize money is huge.” Frank says.
“I’ve heard about the prize the money. But I don’t stand a chance.”
“You don’t know that if you haven’t tried.”
“Frank. The last time I was on stage I ended up in the hospital with a broken leg. I still have trouble walking sometimes.”
“Ok. Listen to me sweetheart.” Frank says turning around to face me, “If you’re scared of something you have to face it at some point.”
“Look Frank. I know that but I don’t have time. I have to take care of Meera and Charlie. I can’t afford to leave them with Mrs Richards anymore. I don’t have the money.”
Frank turns around excitedly, “Ana, if you agree to audition for the X factor Maggie and I will watch the kids for you. For free.”
I laugh, “As much as I appreciate the offer. I can’t accept.”
“Maggie! Could you come in here for a sec?” Frank shouts.
“Yeah. Frank what’d’ya need?” Maggie asks entering the kitchen.
“If Ana auditions for the X factor we’ll watch Charlie and Meera for her, free of cost right?” Frank asks.
Maggie smiles excitedly, “Of course!”
“Maggie I can-”
“Oh don’t worry I already applied for you. All we have to do is get you there tomorrow.” Maggie beams.
“Wait, what?! Maggie why-”
“Theres no need to thank me! In fact Frank and I will stay over with you tonight so we can get you kids up early enough tomorrow!” Maggie says hugging me tightly.
“No more talk about this. Back to work.” Frank says as Maggie exits the kitchen.
I shut my mouth and start making cookies and cakes. Finally work is over and Frank and Maggie close for the night. Maggie grabs my arm.
“Come on. Time to go home.” Maggie says as I climb into the car.
Maggie climbs into the passenger seat and Frank starts driving. Soon the car is parked as I think of ways to escape auditioning for the X factor. I jump out of the car and race upstairs holding my $25 for Mrs Richards.
“Hey I’m home. Not too late- What’s going on?” I ask Mrs Richards as I walk in.
Mrs Richard’s head whips around and she stares at me in shock, “N-n-nothing.”
I glance at Meera who is sitting in the corner and Charlie is crying in her high chair. I grab Charlie and take Meera out of the corner.
I turn and glare at Mrs Richards, “Is this how you always treat Charlie and Meera?!”
“N-n-no.” Mrs Richards says.
“You are a burden on society!” Maggie shouts as she kicks Mrs Richards out of my apartment.
“Ana!” Meera cries clinging to me.
“Shhhh its ok sweetie. Shhh Ana’s here.” I say wrapping her in a one arm hug.
“Wahhhhhhhh!” Charlie wails.
“Shhhhhh. Here Meera comfort Charlie. You’re her older sister, you’re supposed to take care of her.” I say handing Charlie to Meera for her to cradle.
"Are they ok?" Frank asks.
I look at Meera gently cradling Charlie and smile, "Yeah. They're fine."
"I'll make dinner!" Maggie says.
"Oh no Maggie you don't-"
"Its fine. I love cooking, why do you think I own a bakery?" Maggie says.
"Let me help-"
"No, no dear. Let me take care of it. You go relax for a while."
"You might as well just do as she says Ana. You know how she is when she gets her mind set on something. Why don't you go practice a song on your guitar that you want to audition with tomorrow." Frank says patting my back.
I stare at Maggie in the kitchen and nod reluctantly.