“Coming to the pub Lou?” I look up from the data I’m inputting and see Josh, one of the other new intake of school leavers, who’s perched on the end of my desk “A few of us are going out for a few drinks if you fancy?”
“Errr.” I stall for time, thinking of an excuse.
“Come on, let your hair down, and anyway you promised months ago you’d come out to celebrate my birthday, you still owe me.”
“Sorry, I can’t.” I blurt out, not having come up with an excuse.
“Suit yourself,” He stood up and sauntered back to his piled high with paper desk, as he turned, he was already loosening his tie in preparation for a weekend of no-strings attached amusement.
I knew the invites would stop one day, and that bothered me, but my life different was to theirs. Normality was turned upside down for me at sixteen. I would have loved nothing more than a night of laughing, drinking, and dancing, I suppose doing what most teenagers do. It would probably do me the world of good, I just wasn’t allowed to.
Being a teenage Mum certainly wasn’t fun and there are nights when I seem to be stuck on a loop of her crying and then me crying until eventually we both tire ourselves out, only for it all to start all over again half an hour later. I’d had to fight to get this job, it would be worth it after the first couple of years once exams were over, but I had to stay focused. My life was more disciplined than that of an army cadet. I have moments of weakness I almost give up; it would be so easy. But then Freya smiles and garbles some nonsense and I remember why I’m doing this. I don’t want her sharing a tiny back bedroom with me at my parents when she’s old enough to realise this isn’t how most people live. I want to be able to provide for her, I don’t want her to ashamed when she gets older, I need her to be proud.
“Have a good time tonight Josh.” I say as I make a run for the exit, heading for my wild night of reading the hungry caterpillar for the millionth time until Freya falls asleep in my arms.
He doesn’t even look up as he raises his hand to wave goodbye.