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Pretend. This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By anatomyofthewrittenword, Shrewsbury, MA

She’s born in a bright white hospital room to the smell of antiseptic and the lingering odor of cigarettes, and is snuck out through the window two hours later because nobody can pay the hospital’s bills. She’s brought home to a run-down old ranch house in some nameless town in Northern California to the smell of cheap whiskey and despair and put to sleep on a beaten old mattress next to her mother. As dawn breaks her mother clutches her child close to her chest and looks out the dirty windows at the destitute and abandoned vineyard that stretches on to the rim of the horizon, so broken that it’s almost beautiful, and closes her eyes. And even as a single bitter tear slips down the curve of her cheek she holds her child close and whispers, “I will always love you.”
Only the mother never realizes that her child is still too young to know that she was lying.

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