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She always comes wearing a delicate little skirt, holding a little handbag. The father of the baby doesn't dare look at her, so he just stares at her handbag; the mother gives her a little envelope as fast as she can. The envelope embarrasses the mother, but the babysitter fiddles with it while she waits for the couple to leave, then opens it and stuffs the money in her handbag. As soon as she hears the car drive away, she grabs the phone.

He gave me daisies. We were sitting in his car, me fingering the money in my pocket, my putative income, a welcome whiff of independence, a door to adulthood. I was nervous, on the brink of a hatching I was not taught to prepare for, restive, embarrassed. My body bloomed all round me like a frangrant vegetative being with a will of its own, uncontrollably spreading in a myriad steep and slippery directions.

It was getting dark and he was giving me daisies. I said thank you, I will give them to mom. No, he said, they are for you. The tousled flowers looked sad and menacing in the powdery blue light of dusk, shedding yellow pollen all over my hands and making me want to sneeze. Back then I didn't know this was how flowers had sex.

I said thank you again. He said, we're leaving for Canada soon, this will probably be the last time you babysit for us. I said yes, have a good trip. Instead of going out of my mouth and into his ears, I saw my words travel in slow motion across the width of the car, meeting his advancing form half way, shattering and morphing around his outstreched fingers, helplessly fading away as the light was blocked out by his approaching, growing, monstrously inflating head.

His fingers were cold on my neck, a fingertip behind each ear, why doesn't he take me by the shoulders, and then lips, wet, cold, pressing, sliding with a trail like a slug's. I kept my eyes open and stared at him, cold, unforgiving, knowing exactly what was going on. He finally let go and looked away with a smile like a rictus but I wasn't saving him, I wasn't helping, I knew what he had done, I knew he wasn't allowed but there was nothing I could have done was there I was just a little girl and I took my hand out of my pocket and wiped my mouth and didn't feel the money any more. My ears were burning and my vision was blurred.

I had wanted to turn my head and get a peck on the cheek, but his soft, cold, silky hands held me fast and I got my first kiss, an uninvited initiation, a chilly prelude to the future. And daisies.

When they separated, both moving out of the "family" home and finding rhythms for their life they'd decided for the sake of their daughter Tiffany to keep the same babysitter, L. It didn't matter whether Tiffany was at Her place or His, L was the babysitter.

Shortly after Tiffany's fifth birthday party He got a promotion at work meaning that neither He nor She had Tuesday or Wednesday evening free, so L was looking after Tiffany alot, which suited her, since she was fifteen and the babysitting money supported her blossoming social life.

It was three in the morning when He arrived home from the function. All the lights in the house were on and L was asleep in an armchair in the lounge. Beside her was the telephone and an almost empty bottle of wine. L woke up with a smile on her face as He carried her to the spare room. It had been a long time since someone had looked at Him that way.

It became a regular feature of babysitting at His place. He quietly raised the wages.

L's periods hadn't yet settled into a regular rhythm since menarche, but she knew that three months without a period was bad.

While He was inside She got sole custody of Tiffany.

Based on a true story. Names have been changed.

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