“Who is this baby?” I stopped painting and asked my apartment-mate, Mia. She was holding a little baby in her arms.
“She, she’s my adopted child,” Mia started.
“Adopted? What? You never told me anything about this!” I couldn’t believe in what I heard.
“Look, Kristine, I can explain. I have decided to adopt this baby about a month ago. But I was afraid that you wouldn’t want to adopt her…”
“Because we have a tiny apartment! It barely fits both of us! Besides, it’s not like we make a lot of money! I barely make a thousand per month! And you’re not doing that much better either!”
“But this baby is so little, she’s barely five months old, and her parents already left her… I couldn’t let her stay in the orphanage,” Mia started to cry.
“Look, I really like this baby to stay with us. But, how can we support her?” I shook my head.
“I’ll try to find more agencies! I’ll try to model more. I’ll find every way I can, you don’t have to worry about this.”
“I understand you’re a model. And you’re beautiful. But look, we are not young anymore. For God’s sake, we’re in our thirties! Do you understand? I don’t mean to be cruel but—I have to be honest. You can’t expect to make more money as a model in your thirties if in your twenties you barely made a name for yourself! And it’s the same with me!”
It was true. I called myself an artist but I barely made any money out of it. The competition was too tough these days. We were only doing our jobs because we loved them and we could never see us doing anything else.
But tears already started falling down Mia’s cheeks. Mia was also an orphan. Her dad passed away when she was ten, her mom moved in with another guy in a rural country-side. Four years later her mom passed away, then the mom’s new husband wanted to rape her, so she escaped to the city, where she became a model. She told me she was really successful at first, but she never told me how she became less famous. I never forced her to tell me what happened because apparently it was really dramatic. We met ten years ago when I was looking for a low-pay model for my paintings. Turned out she was looking for a place to stay. I let her live with me in my apartment to share the expensive downtown rent. We had been living together in the same tiny apartment ever since.
“Okay, we can keep the baby. I can’t imagine sending her back to the orphanage anyway,” I sighed.
“Thank you! Thank you!” Mia jumped up and down, almost dropped the baby.
“Wow there there! Careful or you'll harm the baby instead of helping her. That's a girl right?"
"It's a baby girl!"
"What’s her name?” I smiled and asked.
“Shit! I can’t remember what her name was… Uhm it’s written in the documents. Let me check. Here, hold the baby,” Mia gave the baby to me while looking for the documents in her bag. Looking at her little round cheeks, I couldn’t stop myself from kissing her. Her brown eyes were full of hope.
“That’s right! Hope! Let’s call her Esperanza. I want her life to be filled with hope, unlike us. We’re so pessimistic. We can still change her name, can’t we?”
“Wha, what? Uhm, okay, the paperworks are already filled out. But I guess we can call her whatever we want to. What is it that you want to call her again?”
“Esperanza, Spanish for hope. We need some hope in our lives,” I smiled.
So here we were, in our tiny apartment. Both of us were single, yet we had a kid in our arms. It wasn’t like we were hideous that no one would date us. Mia was a model, so of course she was gorgeous, but her face had a look of a person whose life had been treated so badly that she wouldn’t care about anything anymore.
I looked decent enough. A few men would notice me, including my own clients. They had come to our tiny apartment, but turned out they always decided to take interest in Mia, and only wanted to be friends with me. Of course I was mad, mad at myself, for not being pretty enough to keep a guy interested in me. However, I couldn’t blame Mia, because in the end it always turned out that the guys would break up with Mia for reasons I didn’t fully understand. I felt bad for her failed relationships. Sometimes I even felt lucky that I didn’t actually have romantic relationships with those guys, because apparently, according to Mia, they were jerks. Gradually, guys started to disappear from our lives. I always blamed time for taking away my youth and energy, but I couldn’t understand how Mia also stopped seeing guys. She said guys were childish, yet she brought home a baby.
To be continued