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Vanessa Smiles ((EXCLUSIVE))

Months after being warned that her partner might never hold his daughter, Vanessa smiles as the girl works to cut two teeth on the device that Freddy wears like a necklace, a blue ribbon tied around it.

vanessa smiles

ZELDA sits on the floor. She watches VANESSA, who is lying on a couch. There is a book on the floor, as though it has been dropped accidentally. VANESSA sits up, smiles and lies back on the couch. ZELDA continues to watch her.

My job every day is the same as yesterday, Vanessa looking at me like I can't do anything and why do I have to be around? You can do whatever you put your mind to is what Mum told me. I want to tell Vanessa that. And the goals they talk about in group--attainable goals. If you don't try you got nothing, guaranteed. The dentist smiles at me usually and says good job even when I'm just standing there waiting for someone to tell me something they want me to do. That's not right, that kind of good job, I get that. You have to earn stuff is what I mean. But I work hard. And I have a job, so I'm lucky that way. Some of them at group have nothing and when we meet and Julie asks about our week and what was good and what wasn't the ones that have nothing look shrunk. I tell them things like we got new prizes or about the teenager that cried or about the old man losing his dentures or whatever. Sometimes I make up a story because it's better when they smile. Me and Danny drink cups of the coffee after. He walks the beach, picks up all sorts of things, mostly junk, and he doesn't say much and neither do I but that's fine because group's over and we don't have to talk if we don't want to. Sometimes Danny works. He's one of those guys that stands at the corner, ready. For construction or sometimes shovelling gravel or moving things. Some days he gets picked up.

The lady's from Winnipeg and Vanessa tells her to fill in the form that asks things like does your jaw crack and are you allergic to any medications. They'll squeeze her in she says because you can't walk around with a toothache can you? The lady swings up the little boy that's holding her leg and sits him on the counter beside the form, which she starts writing on. I wink at him but he ducks his head so I'm sorry I did that. And then Vanessa smiles like she's nice but not with her eyes so you can tell anyway, and she hands him a pencil but he doesn't take it. Aren't you a big boy? she says and he doesn't say anything and neither does the... 041b061a72


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