I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the shelter. I thought about venturing out but I was struck down with fear at the very thought. I tried to imagine what Matthew was doing right now. Was he worried? Was he angry? I thought about calling him to let him know I was okay but I was too scared he would trace my call and find me. I finally met my caseworker, Cassie, later on that evening. She was older than me but pretty, and she had a bubbly, positive personality. I trusted her immediately.
I told her a little bit about myself and gave her a vague background story. Cassie was very understanding and supportive. "One of the things we stress here is resuming a normal life," she explained to me. "You will probably want to stay inside and recover for a few days but eventually you are going to have to get back out there. The goal is rehabilitation so you can be independent again," Cassie said. I listened to her talk about the classes and support groups I would have to attend and what the shelter required from me. I had to find a job and show some signs of progress in order for me to be able to stay.
Cassie finished her speech and asked if I had any questions. I told her I didn't but she could sense my hesitation. I had to get it off my chest. I told her I was expecting. She smiled, but when my excitement did not match hers, she toned it down. She rubbed my belly. "Have you thought about what you are going to do yet?" she asked. I shook my head. "I'll bring you some pamphlets this week," she told me. "You look like you could use some relaxation. Let's go find the other girls and I'll show you the recreation room."
Cassie introduced me to some of the other girls and we sat around the television the rest of the night and played video games. I laughed and the sound of my own voice surprised me. It had been so long since I laughed I had forgotten what it felt like. I had fun for the first time in ages. I finally felt like I was home.
I took what Cassie said about making progress very seriously. I didn't want to be a helpless, victim anymore. I stayed at the shelter for a week before I decided I was going to go out. I started small. One morning, I just walked down the street to the library. It was a terrifying experience but I was proud of myself for doing it. I stayed all afternoon reading books on pregnancy and parenting. I came across a book about adoption. I have never given adoption much thought before but the book was very informative and helpful. I flipped through it twice before deciding to go check my e-mail.
As always, there were updates from Nancy and Kylie. I thought about e-mailing them back but I wasn't sure if it was safe yet. The e-mails didn't mention anything about Matthew and I didn't suspect they would. I knew Matthew would only hurt them to get to me, so if I wasn't in contact with them I shouldn't have to worry.
I finally decided to head back to the shelter. I did sort of a half-walk/half-run because I was still terrified of being noticed. Cassie was waiting for me when I got back. She told me how proud she was of me for all the progress I had been making lately. I attended every meeting and support group and took her advice very seriously. Cassie wanted to talk to me about my employable skills. In high school I waitressed at a diner but that was the only job experience I ever had and I told her so. Cassie thought for a moment. "Do you have any hobbies that could be used to make money?" she asked. I started to tell her no when a light bulb went off in my head. "Mixology!" I told her excitedly. "It's always been a hobby of mine and I think I'm really good! I had a job lined up before..." I trailed off. Cassie smiled at me comfortingly. "I think you know what your next step is," she said.
It was about a month before I worked up the courage to apply for a mixology position at Waylon's Haunt. I was interviewed by Daisy under my new alias, Lily. I was so scared she would recognize me, but if she did, she never let on. I had another on the job interview and I nailed it. I started work the very next afternoon and made 53 simoleons. It may not sound like much but it was all mine and I had earned every penny.
My first trimester was ending and I still had no idea what I was going to do about the baby. A shelter was not an appropriate place to raise a child. I distracted myself with my work. I was a hard worker and showed a lot of potential my first two weeks. I was quickly promoted to night shift so I started making a little extra money. I kept very busy to avoid thinking about my pregnancy, but deep down I knew I would have to face the issue eventually.