He doesn’t look back, he isn’t ashamed or afraid like I am. He reaches out to hold my hand. I take one glance over my shoulder and wish I hadn’t.
‘What will happen?’ I ask.
‘Don’t worry. We did the right thing,’ he says.
I grasp his hand. My throat is as dry as sandpaper and my head throbs as if someone is hammering nails inside. Every muscle in my body is tense. I fear if I let go I won’t be able to stop the torrent of tears backed up behind my eyes. I must get to the exit. Away from this place. Into the anonymity of the street.
I repeat the words. ‘A nice home. Loving parents. Plenty to eat. A good education.’ All the things I yearned for myself and never got. A chance in life.
‘That’s right,’ he says.
Hanging onto his words, I focus my eyes on the rectangle of door at the end of the corridor. I start to run. The echo of our footsteps accelerates like a drum roll towards a finale. I clutch my throat. ‘If I don’t get out of here soon…’ I yank his hand, unsure if I want him to stop and turn back, or keep going.
‘No,’ he says, dragging me forward. ‘We decided, remember?’
As we make it to the door, a high-pitched scream tears at my heart. Her cry is like a hand reaching out for me. I stop dead, ripped up inside. She’s just three weeks’ old. I look at him, his buttoned-up face. He shakes his head.
We’re through the door and out on the street, leaving behind a tiny life in someone else’s hands.