If you missed Part One, click here.
Tash stood in the middle of the room staring at the little neon pink bag that had held her pencils and markers from the first grade all the way to the sixth. When she started junior high, it wasn’t cool to be seen with something so juvenile, but she couldn’t bear to let it go. She hid spare change and a few dollars inside; money for those emergencies that always seemed to come up and Barbie never had money to cover. She didn’t think her mother had even known about her secret hoard.
Tash forced her mind to focus. She pulled a pen and a well-used notebook from her backpack, flipped to the next blank page, and began to write.
Things I Need to Do: 1) homework, 2) go to work, 3) never, ever tell anyone about Mom being gone.
When tears threatened once again, Tash stopped writing. She knew she shouldn’t be upset about Barbie leaving. She’d been expecting it for months, ever since the first time Barbie declared her intent to move on when Tash was old enough.
“Yer nearly grown, girl,” Barbie slurred. She was seldom sober these days. “Pretty soon you’ll be on yer own.”
Tash shook her head. “I’m just sixteen, Mom. It’ll be a few years yet.”
“Nah, you got brains, girl. Yer not like me, and ‘sides, I got my own life to live.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s this man, you know,” Barbie smiled crookedly. “He likes me, but he don’t want no kid crampin’ his style, if you know what I mean.” She winked.
Tash knew. There’d been lots of men over the years.
Now her mother was gone and she was on her own.