To Thine Own Self Be True: Prologue

I had an idea for a story set in Winnisimmet, Massachusetts, so I bounced it off of efindumb and after a bit of discussion, he said that he would consider allowing this to be a Winnisimmet Tales story. I've spent the last 48 hours adjusting some bits to his approval.

So here is the start of a brand new Winnisimmet Tales story, I intend it to be novel length overall, so there will be much more to write.

My thanks go out to efindumb for allowing me to play in his universe, I hope I do it justice.

This story will eventually go a bit outside the norms, specifically regarding relationships. You'll find out why when it happens.


Carmen Isabela Sofia de Valencita sat in her freshly poured bath, enjoying the softly scented bubbles floating around her as she relaxed. Tomorrow was going to be a very big day for her, her twin boys, Julio Ramon and Javier Luis would be heading off to college in Georgia. She couldn't even remember which college or university they would be attending, she was doing her best to stay strong until after they had left.

Her mind drifted back to when she had first known she would have a child and what had resulted from that discovery.


Carmen had been throwing up almost immediately after waking for more than a week before she decided that she needed to see a doctor.

There was a small clinic not far from her school here in Winnisimmet, she would go there after school let out today.

Whatever was wrong with her was definitely distracting her quite a bit, her teachers had to prompt her several times to pay attention. A few of her teachers just shook their heads and let her be, they could see something was worrying her, perhaps it would sort itself out soon.

It was a constant struggle for Carmen to focus in her classes that day, but she didn't end up looking like a complete fool, she could live with it.

The moment that the bells rang to signal that her last class was finished, she was up and headed toward her locker at a swift walk.

Carmen wasn't particularly pretty, being tall, slender and rather small breasted compared to many girls her age. She wasn't in any way interested in the girly things that many of them liked to do, stuff like cheerleading, gymnastics, dance classes, or home economics, nor was she interested in sports. The girls' basketball team had asked her numerous times to join the team, her 5'10" height and long, long legs would be a huge asset there, but she didn't care, she didn't want to be known as the girl whose height got her there rather than any actual ability.

Once she had her homework packed in her backpack, shabby leather purse in hand and dressed in a coat suitable for the cold wintry temperatures that were invading the town, she headed out of the school and walked over to the clinic several blocks away.

She was glad to get back inside, that wind was cold. She then had to fill out forms and wait for nearly half an hour to see the doctor.

The doctor, a fiftyish male, listened politely, then chuckled and asked if she had had any sex recently, over the last few months, perhaps?

Carmen blushed, her slightly dusky cheeks glowing a bit as she softly replied, "Yes, about half a dozen times, starting two months ago."

"Well, my dear," Dr. Paul Cambert said as he gently tapped her on the knee, "I suspect you are pregnant, a test will let us know in a moment." He walked out of the room, returning a couple of minutes later with a few slim boxes in his hand, then opened one, revealing a pregnancy test.

He politely informed Carmen as to how to use the test, then sent her off to the nearest bathroom. She returned five minutes later, looking almost ashen. She handed the test that she had used over to the doctor, he quickly scanned it, nodding at the positive indication of pregnancy.

He then sent her to another room in the clinic, where a technician scanned her using an ultrasound, then sent her back to the waiting area.

She had to wait fro just over fifteen minutes before she was called back in to the doctor's office.

"You are definitely pregnant, my dear," he stated, "Six weeks old by the looks of it, your tentative due date is July 15th of next year."

Carmen shook her head, then thanked the doctor, put on her coat, picked up her purse and headed out to catch a bus and go home.

She walked in the door of the family's four bedroom house just before 6 PM, and her mother yelled at her, asking where she had been.

"Later, Mama," Carmen responded, then hung up her coat and shuffled her way up the stairs to the room she shared with her sister Luisa.

Luisa, who was fourteen to Carmen's sixteen, was sprawled on her bed in old jeans and a sweater reading what looked like Cosmopolitan.

Carmen tossed her purse onto her own bed, then swiftly pulled off her skirt and blouse, changing into jeans, a t-shirt and a sweater.

Once she had changed, she dropped onto her own bed, then curled up on her pillow and started crying into its comforting depths.

Luisa knew that something was wrong, but decided to leave Carmen alone for now, she'd find out tonight or maybe tomorrow.

Just after 6:15 PM, their mother called for everyone to come down for dinner, and soon the table was crowded. Her father Paolo was at one end of the table, her mother Estella at the other, her brothers Diego and Alejandro on one side, and she and Luisa on the other.

Dinner was quiet, but both parents noticed that Carmen was upset by something, and Estella noticed that Carmen had been crying.

Once the dishes had been cleared and cleaned, and the other kids had run off upstairs, Estella cornered Carmen in the living room. It only took Estella a few minutes to find out what was worrying her daughter so much. The news had Estella wobbling between pride at knowing that she would be a grandmother, perhaps earlier than she had wanted, and anger that her daughter had gotten herself pregnant so young.

There was also a rather firm discussion where Carmen was told that abortion of the foetus was not an option.

The rest of the night was spent by Carmen sulking on her bed, then curling up and falling asleep still fully dressed.


The next day in school was no better, in fact, Carmen seemed even more distracted than she had been the day before.

After she had eaten half of her lunch, she dropped the remainder in the trash and noticed her boyfriend heading out the doors that led from the school's cafeteria to a side parking lot. She sighed and followed him, catching him as leaned against his car, a two year old Ford Mustang.

"Hey, Tommy, I need to talk to you for a minute," she called as she approached him and the three other boys by his car.

A brief nod from Thomas and the three boys wandered off so that the two of them could talk alone.

Carmen's cheeks began to turn quite red as she looked at Tommy, then she muttered, "We have a big problem, Tommy."

Tommy looked down to Carmen, he stood a good five inches taller than her, as he asked, "What the heck are you talking about, Carm?"

She hated being called Carm, she'd told him sooo many times, but he still did it which annoyed her a lot. She blurted out, "I'm pregnant!" Now she was not only blushing like a newly lit fire, she was also acting extremely nervous and grabbed his arm for some support.

That was when things went wrong, Thomas shoved her away hard, she stumbled and fell onto the asphalt as the boy looked down at her and snarled, "No way is any chico piece of trash going to be named as mine, we're through, bitch! Keep your trash away from me!"

The three other boys had walked off a bit, but they were close enough to hear his response to her, it would be all over school in an hour.

Carmen barely paid any attention to her afternoon classes, went home on automatic and curled up on her bed, crying herself to sleep.

She was so emotionally wiped out that she didn't hear dinner being called at all. In fact, she slept right through the night.


The next few weeks passed in what could only be described as a fugue state, her grades started to drop and teachers became worried. She wasn't a geek or an ace student, but she had been maintaining a fairly decent B- average since she started high school a year ago.

Christmas was just twelve days away when her dad went off like a rocket, once he knew that she was pregnant and a letter from the school was found in the mailbox that morning. The letter mentioned that she was not focusing on her studies and her grades were slipping.

When her father confronted her, she shrugged and turned away, heading to the stairs. He started yelling about how she was under his roof, she would live by his rules or by god, she wouldn't live there at all, the damnable little hussy! It went in one ear and out the other.

Carmen just didn't give a damn any more, but she also couldn't handle the way that her father was treating her. She shrugged again and continued up the stairs, packing some of her clothes into two duffles and a backpack, then called a friend and left the house.

The friend, a seventeen year old girl named Janice, picked her up and took her to her cousin's place, her cousin Tracy had a spare apartment.

Carmen and Tracy chatted for a few minutes when they met, then Tracy led the emotionally worn-out girl to her new living space. It was a modest apartment on the second floor of Tracy's house. There was a small combined living room/dining room/kitchen area. The bedroom wasn't all that big, maybe 12' by 12', with a thick cream carpet on the floor and beautiful heavy brocade drapes over the double window.

Carmen loved it, it was gorgeous! She gave her thanks to Tracy, put everything away, made the bed and was asleep just after 8:30 PM.

Carmen talked to a guidance counsellor after she arrived at school the next morning, then headed to a welfare office around 10 AM. It took her an hour to see a worker there, and the worker barely paid any attention beyond processing everything as quickly as possible.

Just before 11:30, they were finished and Carmen was informed she would have to pick up a cheque the next day, there would be a bonus amount to provide for any household necessities she might need and a small amount for a clothing allowance for school or work.


Carmen had been not quite dozing in her bathtub, but not far from it and only became aware again when the water turned cold.

She took a few minutes to rinse herself off under the shower head, then dried herself, put on a nightgown and curled up in her comfy chair.

It didn't take very long before her mind wandered back to those old memories as she relaxed on that late summer evening.


Weeks and then months passed as Carmen went to school, then spent most of the rest of her time in Tracy's home. She helped out with some of the usual household chores on top of paying Tracy what Tracy considered a fair amount for rent, but Carmen never complained.

Spring had finally sprung, the city was green again, many of the trees were in full bloom and the grass was as green as she had ever seen it.

None of that seemed to matter much, though. Carmen was becoming depressed at the prospect of having to care for a little child. She supposed she could put the child up for adoption, but that didn't seem right to her; abortion wasn't an option due to her faith, so she would give birth.

After that, well... as much as she might think it would be right to give up her child, she didn't want to do that; unfaithful ass or not, this was HER child, she would keep it. The depression was more to do with her believing she might not be able to care for a child properly, there really hadn't been much discussion in the house about it before her father blew up on her and she walked out, leaving much of her life behind.

By the time late April arrived, Carmen was having trouble in class again. What the heck did these classes matter compared to a child? During the second full week of May, she failed three tests in different classes; on the 13th, she left school after lunch and never returned.

The folks at welfare weren't too pleased when she dropped out of school, but they continued to send her the monthly checks.


Carmen pulled herself out of the comfortable chair for a moment, she wanted a glass of warm milk to offset what was coming.

Once she had the milk on the end table, next to a side plate with three double chocolate chip cookies Tracey had made, she relaxed again.


Carmen had gone out for a short walk, it was June 28th, just after nine PM. She hoped the walk would settle her down.

Fate had other plans for her, though. She was about to cross the street to a small park nearby when she felt liquid running down her legs. It took a moment before she realized that her water had broken; she pulled out her phone, called Tracy, then called 911.

An ambulance arrived barely seven minutes later; the paramedics gently placed her on the stretcher, then in the ambulance.

Ten minutes later, she was being pulled into the hospital, where the paramedics dropped her off in the maternity ward.

After a few quick standard medical tests, temperature, blood pressure, etc., she was placed in a room with three other pregnant women. She looked around, noticing that the other women were all older, one in her apparent mid-twenties, the other two in their mid to late thirties.

There were several false calls as the night progressed. The labour became very real as the contractions closed in to every three to five minutes just after seven the next evening, but it wasn't over yet by a long shot. The contractions stayed that way for the next four hours.

At 10:15 PM, the doctor in charge decided to help things along, and at 10:57 PM, the first child was born, a boy with healthy lungs. He was quickly wiped clean, the umbilical cord snipped and the child placed in his very nervous mother's arms for a brief moment.

But the labour wasn't yet finished. She had not known, as she had not gone to any clinics for further tests related to the pregnancy, but she was carrying twins. The only procedures she had been involved in were LaMaze classes which she attended with either Tracy or Janice.

It was ten past eleven before the doctor noticed that the contractions hadn't stopped, Carmen had passed her little one off to a nurse several minutes earlier, and the nurses had been busy with another woman nearby having some kind of minor medical emergency.

But the doctor and a nurse did notice eventually, and a second boy was brought into the world at 11:19 PM that evening.

Carmen was in shock. She had had no idea at all that she was carrying twins, she watched as the nurse cleaned the newborn, then cut the umbilical cord and handed the child over to her. Carmen tucked this second little wonder in her arm and smiled down on him.

A moment later, a nurse brought the little guy's older brother to her and she ended up holding a newborn in each arm, staring at them.

The hospital had only her parents listed as contacts, apparently that was due to her being treated there for something years ago.


Paolo and Estella had been in a waiting room since the wee hours of the morning. Estella had never had a labour last longer than eight or nine hours, so the two were very, very worried when Carmen's labour kept dragging on hour after hour with nothing new to hear.

Suddenly, a nurse approached them, asking if they were Carmen's parents and Estella answered in the affirmative.

"Well, this was a rather difficult labour due to her narrow hips," the nurse stated, "but she has two fine looking baby boys, go see her."

Paolo and Estella were stunned. As far as they knew, twins didn't run in either of their families. This was a very big surprise.

They hurried into the room where Carmen was laying back on a bed with a tiny boy held in each arm. She had fallen asleep holding them.

"Carmen, love, two beautiful boys? Oh, my," Estella gushed as she reached down, taking one boy, handing him to Paolo, then picked up the second tiny newborn just as Carmen opened her eyes to see them there. She watched for a moment as her parents held the two babies.

"Hello, Papa, Mama, I wasn't expecting to see you here," Carmen stated. "When did you get here?"

"About 12:30 AM today, we didn't even know you were here until the hospital called just after midnight," Paolo replied.

"You've been out there in the waiting room all of that time?" Carmen gasped. "What about the kids?"

"Belinda Bowen from the house next door is watching them, they'll be fine. All of us have been worrying about you," Estella added.

"Worrying about me, Mama? Why?" Carmen snapped, "I may be on welfare, but I've been taking good care of myself, dammit!"

"Hush, hush, love, you'll scare your little ones," her mama answered. "Your hips," she continued, "they're not built for childbearing, love."

"Whatever, Mama. Yeah, I hurt a bit, but I have these two precious ones to care for now, and I intend to do that."

Paolo spoke up, "You can come back home, we'll put the two boys into a room together so you can have your own space."

Carmen shocked him to the core when she shook her head. "No, Papa, I intend to continue to live on my own while I raise my boys. The family will be welcome to visit, but I will not put up with them if they start giving me a hard time over my having children so young."

Paolo knew he wouldn't win this; he sighed and nodded, his daughter was showing the fire that often got her into arguments; there had been times where that fire had caused problems in the family, but there was no way in hell he wanted that sense of spirit to be quashed.

"Well, if we can't help you by letting you live with us, we'll help you in other ways," Estella made her point. "These boys are family."


Three days after the births, Carmen was watching the TV when a news report came on.

The report mentioned a prominent city councillor, one Louis Reagan, who had just finished a short speech before an audience in front of City Hall. The speech was about fighting to guarantee everyone's rights, not just those in government or who had money or status of some sort.

The integrity, honesty and charm the councillor showed as she spoke made her feel good about things for a bit.

She'd already named the first baby, he was now officially Julio Ramon Felipe Eduardo de Valencita. She'd already picked the younger boy's first name, Javier, but until now she had not been sure what name should be his second. The gentleman on the TV had impressed her very much, and she decided that her younger boy's name would be Javier Luis Alejandro Rafael de Valencita.

The two boys were baptized when they were nine days old in the parish church the family had attended for nearly twenty years.


Life wasn't easy for Carmen, she lived with Tracy for another fifteen months after returning with her two precious babies.

At that point, she ended up in a nice sized one bedroom apartment in a small building about a mile away from her parents; eleven months later, she moved into apartment 3-E, a two bedroom unit in the same building with just a wee bit more space than the previous apartment.

The letter arrived in her mailbox about a month before she would move into that two bedroom unit. It had been redirected from her parents' address to Tracy's house, then to this building. She opened it and received a shock, one that surprised her, especially with what it concerned.

The letter read as follows, and had apparently been sent to her parents by the father of that damnable bastard Thomas Laramie Wilson:

"We regret to inform you that Private Thomas Wilson was killed in combat while fighting outside Kandahar, Afghanistan three days ago. His body is being sent to the nearest location where it can be transferred to a US jet and should arrive in your city within the next seven days.

He was a good soldier, fought long, hard and well for his country.

We believe he will be nominated for a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and a Silver Star.

If such is the case, you will be informed of the time and date of the ceremony in case you wish to attend."

There was a signature below the letter itself, but her eyes were so blurred with tears that she couldn't read it.

He may have treated her like garbage, but he'd died honourably, fighting to protect others and he had apparently died saving others.

The letter fell to the floor of the entryway as she leaned against the mailboxes, the tears flowing silently down her cheeks.

Several minutes passed before she was able to stop crying, she picked up the letter and slowly walked into the building.

A woman stepping out of one of the two elevators saw her, the tracks of the tears quite evident, and asked what had happened.

Carmen replied, "You know I've told you that my two little boys had a no-good, heartless bastard of a father that didn't want them at all?" The woman nodded and Carmen continued, "That man went over to Afghanistan, served for seventeen months and died saving people's lives."

The woman shook her head briefly, then said, "That doesn't sound like someone I'd call a heartless bastard."

Carmen laughed, a short but humourless laugh, "No, it doesn't, but the damn bastard could have tried to be a father, dammit!"

Carmen couldn't handle anything else at that point, she walked around the woman, entered the elevator and hit the third floor button.

Not quite two months later, Carmen began to receive supplementary checks in the mail, which turned out to be death benefits ensuing from Private Thomas Wilson's army service that were being paid to her to ensure she had sufficient funds to care for her boys.

She then found out that the councillor had learned about Private Wilson being the father to her boys and that he had insisted the government provide the support. The two boys were his next of kin, his heirs and he had at one point acknowledged them as his before witnesses.


The years rolled on as they always do. In September of the year when the twins were five years old, they entered the school system. Perhaps it was a good thing that the two boys were not identical twins, there were differences enough that both could be easily identified.

The two boys were happy to be able to be around other young people their own age, and their studies weren't difficult.

Now that the boys were in school, Carmen had time to herself, time she had been spending watching her two little boys. Perhaps she could put a note on the board in the entryway that she was willing to babysit during the day, she could put her apartment number there as contact info.

About a week after she posted the notice, Carmen had her first babysitting job. She was paid in the form of a lovely sausage casserole.

The babysitting wasn't a regular thing initially, although it did become a more common occurrence as the years passed. Most of the time, she would be paid with some type of food, but every now and then, a client would slip her a ten or a twenty along with the food.

About a year after she started babysitting, her parents bought her a cell phone and paid for it so people could call her when needed.


Time continued to pass, the boys advanced through the grades steadily, then they were graduating from junior high.

A few months later, they shifted over to a high school not far from the apartment; classes were harder, but the boys managed to keep up. At one point, a girl in a class a year ahead of them helped the two of them with their math studies, their grades improved a bit and on they went.


There was one major difference between Carmen and her two boys that became evident in high school; they were very, very competitive.

They'd been in school for about two months when Javier said something to his twin, slapped him on the shoulder and took off like a shot. Julio growled and was right behind him. The two ran around and then back and forth across the field before Julio tackled his brother by a goal line.

Someone who saw the two run that day suggested that they should try out for track and field for the spring, they were that fast. The two boys were tall and lean like their mother; they liked the idea, and when the spring track season took place, they ended up on the team.

The first two races were not bad, Javier claimed third in one, Julio third in the other. Then they cranked it up, and when the next meet happened, the two boys left everyone else in the dust, claiming 1st and 2nd in five distances, the 100m, the 200m, the 400m, the 1000m and the 3000m.

This was repeated for several track events that year and through half or more of the track events over the rest of their high school years.

But that wasn't all, the boys loved to wrestle, having done it with each other since they could walk, so they joined the wrestling team, too.

They weren't quite as spectacular there as they became on the track fields, but it wasn't unusual to see one of the two take 2nd or 3rd.

The wrestling led to them meeting several kids from their school one afternoon on the way to their MMA dojo from the school. Julio and Javier were curious, and went along to see what happened there, then went home to get permission slips from their mother.

The sensei at the dojo was a fair but strict man, and you would only learn there if you followed his rules to the letter.

Their height, both boys were 5'9" in grade 9 and would eventually reach their full height of 6'3" by the time they graduated from high school, often gave them an advantage in being able to use that height to gain leverage on others. Sometimes, though, that would backfire because, even with that height of theirs, they were quite lean, so a person who could put a good bit of solid body weight against them could use it to advantage.

Both boys enjoyed the classes in the dojo very much. By the time they graduated, both were holding brown belts in the dojo's MMA style.


Carmen had decided that she and the boys needed to have their yearly physicals done and had made an appointment two weeks ago.

Now the time for the appointment had arrived. "Julio, Javier, get out here now, we have a medical appointment in thirty minutes!"

"Awww, mom," Julio whined as he shut off the game centre and TV, "I was just about to beat Javier in Street Fighter!"

"You can thank your grandfather for being able to have that TV and the game centre, boys. Now come on, move it!"

A brief moment later and they were all out the door, climbing into the Chevy Spark the boys had been given and headed to the clinic.

Walking into the clinic after they arrived pulled Carmen's memories back to when she had found out that she was pregnant. Gods, that was almost nineteen years ago. The place looked a lot better now, it had expanded into the building next to it and remodelled as well.

Carmen stopped by the receptionists area and waited a moment before saying, "Carmen, Julio and Javier de Valencita for appointments."

The receptionist nodded, checked the system and asked the three to wait in the seating area nearby.

The three were called about fifteen minutes later, taken into different rooms and given full physical examinations by various medical staff.

Once the tests were all finished, the three dressed again, then headed back to the seating area to wait yet again.

This wait ended up being just over 35 minutes, then their names were called and they were led into a small office. It wasn't strictly an office, the doctor that had this room could do various minor tests if needed, as the tools required were present, along with an exam bed.

Carmen received a shock as she entered the room. She shook her head, it couldn't be, he'd be seventy at least now!

It did turn out to be the doctor who had discovered she was pregnant, he introduced himself to her and the boys.

Carmen shook her head, then said, I'm surprised you are still here, doctor, "I expected you would have retired long ago."

Dr. Paul Cambert sighed and answered, "My wife died a few years after I first saw you, I became depressed and decided to keep working. The work helped to keep me focused on the needs of the patients rather than letting myself wallow in depression."

He scanned several pages, nodding as he continued, "You're all quite healthy, I'm just worried about how slim the boys are."

Carmen chuckled, then reached into her purse and pulled out an old wallet, extracting a bunch of photos from one compartment. "Doc, that leanness is a family trait, roughly eighty percent of the folks on my mother's side are just like myself and my two boys." She handed over the small stack of photos, giving Dr. Cambert the time to look at them, which he spent several minutes doing.

He looked over at Carmen, then asked, "So this is quite normal in your family, then?" as he continued to look at the photos.

She nodded, then added, "Yes, Doctor, one of those pictures is of my maternal grandmother; in the picture there, she was 62, she's now 80. Many of the other pictures are my uncles and aunts, one of Grandma Bea's brothers, he's 87 now, my mother, and my siblings."

"All right, then, I just wanted to be sure that the boys would be fine, most boys fill out as they grow into their adult bodies."

The doctor handed the photos back to Carmen, who took a moment to slide them back into their compartment in her wallet.

"Quite true, Doctor, but my family has always been a bit different. Thank you for making sure my boys are fine."

On the way out, Carmen stopped at the reception area and asked that the bill for the appointments be sent to her parents.

Doctor Cambert nodded as he shooed them out of his office. Carmen and the boys left the building, then returned home.


The two boys worked hard month after month, year after year and graduated 4th and 6th in their graduating class, a fairly respectable result.

Even with the boys having been in the MMA dojo with several of the kids from school, they weren't close to any of them, just minimally friendly.

They had never really made friends in the school system; even though they were in a good school, the simple fact that their mother was on welfare and that they had never known their father caused many to look down on them. The boys ignored all of it and went their own way.

School was finished. Both had chosen to go to colleges that happened to be part of Georgia State University.

Julio had decided that he would study business and thus was going to the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Javier, meanwhile, had decided he would study law and had chosen the College of Law. The boys would be living in the dormitories initially.

If they could show that they were able to maintain a certain class average, Paolo had said they would have an apartment their second year.


Carmen blinked, then shook her head and looked at the big round clock on the wall of the living room. Two AM, she should be in bed, the boys would be getting up in about five hours; they would have breakfast, pack everything into the car and leave by mid-morning.

The car in question was a five year old Chevrolet Spark that Paolo had bought as a present for the boys' high school graduation.

Carmen padded off to her room, quickly changed into a nightgown, brushed her teeth, then climbed into bed and was asleep second later.


Carmen managed to pull herself out of bed at 8:15 AM, the boys had everything packed in the car and were making a quick breakfast when Carla wandered into the kitchen. A few minutes later, Javier handed her a plate with some sausages, eggs and home fries on it.

A fresh cup of strong coffee with one sugar was placed next to her plate by Julio as he and Javier sat down with their own food.

The three ate their meal, then Carmen followed them outside and watched as they climbed into the car and drove away.

Her two boys were heading off to college, something she had not been able to do herself. She prayed that they would do well down there.

The babysitting she had done in the building had been a good thing, but there were very few young children here now.

She had heard of a particular daycare that held their staff to very high standards of care, perhaps she could apply there to work part-time?


A few more days passed while she thought about that idea, then she thought, 'What the heck, better than sitting here all day doing nothing!"

She gathered the twenty-nine bits of paper that were her references from the folks she had babysat for here in the building. She carefully packed them into an envelope, put the envelope in her purse, grabbed her keys, locked the apartment and headed out of the building.

She had to take two different buses to reach that particular daycare and arrived at its front gate just before 11 AM.

There was a small yard in front of the building, perhaps ten feet deep by twenty-five wide, with a monkey bar set-up on one side and a large and very solid wooden picnic table on the other side of the walk leading to the door. She slowly advanced down the walk, then opened the door.

She could see that the space inside was no wider than what was out front, but the building looked to be at least sixty, maybe seventy feet long. There was a counter a short distance inside the door with a doorway behind the countered area likely being an office for the boss.

A short distance down the left wall she could see a door that would probably be a washroom, then two more doors along that wall and three on the right. The space to her right seemed to be a small combination play and waiting area, two young women were sitting on a sofa there. She assumed that the other doorways were rooms with specific purposes or perhaps for various ages. There was plenty of space, it was nice.

Carmen approached the counter, nodding to the young woman behind it, then asked if she could put in an application for part-time work.

The young woman nodded, pulled some sheets out from a shelf under the desk and handed them to Carmen, "You'll need to fill these out."

Carmen smiled at her, took the papers and walked over to a second sofa, then sat and began filling in the forms. It didn't take her very long to finish most of it, perhaps ten minutes, but they only had spaces for two references, she had twenty-nine in the envelope in her purse.

Carmen walked over to the desk and waited for a few minutes as the young woman was handling an incoming phone call.

Eventually, the call ended and Carmen made her request known, then opened the envelope, showing the woman all of the references in it.

The young woman shuffled through the small stack of references, then handed them back to Carmen and knocked on the office door. She had to wait a moment, then entered. Carmen could not hear what was said in the office, the young woman returned to the desk, smiling.

She asked for the references, then started feeding them into a photocopier, taking a copy of each individual reference.

When she was finished, she returned to the counter and passed the envelope with the originals back to Carmen.

"These references will be added to your application. If it is accepted, you will receive a call from us within 72 hours."

Carmen smiled, she nodded and then turned and smiled at the women sitting on the sofa as she left the building to head back home.

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