You’ve got to give it away.

A young woman, white, brown hair that curled at her shoulders, a peach knitted sweater that revealed her pale stomach, tight dark jeans and black boots with a clunky two inch heal. She had a square black purse slung over one shoulder and a baby strapped to her front.

The child was in a pouch like a kangaroo, sleepily clinging to his mother’s chest, face buried in breast, tiny hand clutching fistful of peach sweater. The baby pouch gave the woman a hands free way to carry her baby, and she sauntered around with a swing in her step like she wasn’t carrying an only child.

She stepped off the bus, holding a newspaper in one hand and adjusting her purse with the other. She didn’t touch the baby. Her hands reached for her purse, reaching for her need. She put a cigarette to her lips and paused in the middle of the parking lot to light up. The baby hung there like dead weight and she blew a puff of smoke into the wind and walked on.

Slow dancing in your underwear, turning slowly, not quite on rhythm, singing not quite off key. The darkened room, an overcast afternoon, gray light streaming in and you’ve got to hang on tight. The speakers reverberate with the vibe, you wonder if they’re blown. A revolving dance, twisting, yearning, holding–the song fades and so do you, standing in the stillness of a warm embrace.

A white woman striding down the sidewalk with a black toddler on her hip. She works the bus system like a pro, going three blocks up to drop off her son, then walking two blocks over to catch another bus bound for Randolph Avenue and another job.

She’s skinny, tight white jeans, a no nonsense stride, sticky bleach blonde hair that clings to her scalp in curls. Not exactly stylish, but it works.

She speaks with force, telling a stranger of her towed car and the exaggerated fees. It’s no longer worth the price. She’s found that a lot of things aren’t worth the price. So she rides the bus until she can find something better. Winter’s coming, she’ll have to, she says.

She’s made mistakes, but she lives with them. She won’t let you look down on her. She finds strength in the toddler, the one-time mistake, the former accident.

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