Paula Carlin rubbed the back of her neck, the long days and nights at the hospital taking its toll on her lithe body

Paula Carlin rubbed the back of her neck, the long days and nights at the hospital taking its toll on her lithe body. She was so tired her eyes, which in high school sparkled a deep crimson blue, now dulled and trying not to close as she sat in her old beat up paint chipped car. It wasn't grand, the heater didn't work and the air conditioner worked a bit to well, the radio only got fuzzy am channels and the roof had a tear from when she stored her iron board in the back seat, hauling it off to college, she tugged causing it to rip the fabric.

Rolling her shoulders with closed eyes she left out a large yawn which she tried to stifle but it didn't work, finally she felt she had the energy to haul herself up the shitty apartment she paid too much for. Blinking back sleep she opened her door stepping out into the winter night chill, closing the door she locked it reveling in the small beep telling her the vehicle was secure for the night.

Feet slapping against the walk way leading up to the five story apartment building, her breath reaching out to the night with every exhale, eyes shifting back and forth making sure she was as alone as she thought she was, it wasn't exactly a nice neighborhood at night. Finally she made it to the door, bringing her purse in front of her she began the search for the front door key, for some reason it eluded her every time and tonight was no exception.

After what felt like ten minutes it was with in her hand and inside the lock, walking in she made sure the door locked with out any one walking in behind her, again one could never be to cautious at night around here. Turning back around to stare at the looming stair case she cursed the broken elevator and started the three floor trek to her apartment.

She unlocked door number 256-B, pushing open the wooden entrance. Stepping inside she placed her purse on the side table, taking off her shoes and pushing them under it. Walking into the living room she eyed the pictures she had put up when she moved in, a smile caressed her lips. Licking her lips she picked up the latest photo added to the collection.

Her fourteen year old son Glen sat on the picnic blanket with a large grin, cake covering his arms and clothes while his four year old sister Spencer sat arms folded and a frown, it was his birthday and instead of blowing the candles out he had leaned forward scooped up some of the cake and dowsed his younger sister in it. That resulted in a food fight right after Paula snapped the picture.

Sighing she sat the photo back down and walked to the kitchen, she hated her ex husband Arthur for all the things he did. When he found out she was pregnant with Glen he was ecstatic he'd always wanted a son, someone to look up to him, to be like him and in the beginning Glen was. A polished young man from his hair to the clothes his father picked out for him and even to the skipped school days to hang out at the office.

Arthur was a workaholic and a attention whore, if all eyes weren't directed at him he was a very cranky man, when Glen began to get the attention his father wanted Arthur began to act out towards Paula until it turned to alcoholic rage and a few hits now and than which was hidden from Glen for a few years. Paula didn't want to break up her family, Arthur was paying for her medical schooling and Glen had a smile on his face so a few scars and bruising could be covered in make-up.

Than Paula found out she was pregnant yet again, this time a girl. This time he wasn't happy, he didn't want a little girl. He didn't want the pressure of worrying if she got pregnant or if she got married, it didn't matter he just wanted someone to take over the family business and he had that. Soon Paula couldn't hide any more. She graduated medical school and got a nice part time job at the local hospital but when she got home to find her one year old daughter alone in the crib crying when Arthur was suppose to be at home watching her instead out at the local bar, she was livid. She called Glen as she scooped up her daughter trying to calm her, she found her son in the kitchen trying in his best ten year old way to make his sister a bottle, he had tears falling and pleaded with her not to punish him and that he was trying to make Spencer feel better but didn't know how.

After that it was an easy choice, she divorced her husband.

She bought this place and got longer shifts at the hospital, Paula knew it would be hard but when ever she saw her kids it made her heart swell and she knew it was worth it. So when she went to work she hired the girl that lived a floor above, Jenny was thirteen and very mature so Paula had no problem leaving her ten year old and one year old in her care. Jenny taught Glen how to take care of Spencer and soon she was watching TV or talking on the phone, just being paid to make sure Glen didn't burn anything down. Jenny shared half her money with the boy, two years later Glen took over and was now dating the ex babysitter.

Rolling her neck she grabbed the cartoon of milk out of the refrigerator, pouring it into a pot she put it on the stove to warm, she loved a warm glass of milk before bed, it put her to sleep faster than anything else.

"Mommy?" a tiny voice spoke from behind her, turning on her heel she saw her daughter clad in her blue footy pajamas. Her hair was messy from tossing in her sleep, one hand held on to her security pillow while the other rubbed tiredly at her eye.

"Spence what are you doing up?" she wondered kneeling down as her daughter padded over to her, she picked her up and sat her in a chair by the kitchen table.

"Bad dream," she whispered blinking her eyes repeatedly.

Paula smiled warmly, "Would you like some warm milk sweetie?"

Spencer nodded eagerly laying her pillow on the table and placing her head upon it. Her tired blue eyes watching her mother walk to the drainer and grabbing a clean glass and the four year olds sippy cup which was only used for late night drinks that tired mom didn't want to clean up if it got spilled.

"I'm not a baby," Spencer groaned when she saw that her mother grabbed the sippy cup her head still not leaving the softness of the pillow.

"I know sweetie, who said you were?" she asked placing both cups on the counter, leaning back on it while waiting for the milk to warm.

"My new friend Ashley, she's new," Spencer smiled dreamily as her eyes began to close.

"Ashley huh?" Paula made a mental note to talk to her daughter about her new friend on Saturday, her day off.

"Can she play here?"

Paula chuckled at the way her daughter asked for her friend to come over, "I don't see why not, I'll tell Glen to get her parents number when he drops you off at school tomorrow,"

She turned the stove off and poured the milk into her glass and Spencer's sippy cup. Walking over she tapped her daughter on the nose waking her up a bit more, Spencer blinked a couple times and raised her head off the pillow reaching out and taking the cup from her mom, Paula than sat the pillow off to the side and sat across from her daughter.

Paula held her cup on the table with both hands feeling the warmth spread up her hands, arms and settle in the rest of her body, yawning she glanced at her daughter who was sitting exactly like she was, warm sippy cup grasped by both hands, her blue crystal eyes that shined like her mother used to staring right back at her.

Paula smiled at her.

Spencer smiled back.

Tilting her head she watched her daughter do the same, she chuckled and Spencer did to, "What are you doing?"

"What are you doing?" she giggled at coping her mom.

Paula just glanced at Spencer, the little girl swinging her feet back and forth in the chair; she was a spitting image of Paula, blonde hair, blue eyes, and innocent. Just like Glen was a spitting image of his father besides the blonde hair, she closed her eyes thinking about all the moments Glen tried to act like his father, how she longed for that, for someone to admire her and want to try to be like her. She wanted someone to love her unconditionally and when she opened her eyes and saw Spencer sitting there with her eyes closed she knew she had it.

Clearing her throat she watched Spencer's eyes flicker open and than the girl tried to clear her throat the best she could.

Paula brought her glass to her lips and took a drink.

Spencer brought the cup to her lips and sipped.

Paula scratched her head.

Spencer scratched hers.

When the two finished their milk the older blonde stood up, the younger one followed suit, the older one walked to the sink and placed her cup in it. Spencer walked over as well but pouted, sensing why Paula bent down and lifted her up and the little girl put the cup in the sink.

"Ready for bed?"

"Ready for bed?"

"Spencer no more,"

"Mommy no more," Spencer giggled into her hands.

Paula squinted her eyes earning the same from her daughter, with a smile Paula stretched her arms and took a deep breath as if she was going to yawn, Spencer however did yawn, her little mouth opening and letting out a long sigh along with it.

"No fair mommy," she whined rubbing at her eyes again.

"Mommy's sorry but I had to cheat a little, its time for bed,"

Spencer yawned again and took her mother's hand who started leading her back to her room but the little blonde yanked away and ran back to the table to grab her pillow than rushed back and grabbed her mom's hand.

Once inside the room Paula helped her into bed, tucking the covers into the sides, "Where did you learn that game?" she asked brushing loose hair from the girls face.

"Ashley," the name made her little girl smile.

"She sounds fun,"

"She is," Spencer nodded with a little blush, her eyes closing for a second than opening again with another yawn.

"Okay missy time to close those eyes and sleep, you have school tomorrow," Paula leaned down and kissed her on the four head.

"Love you mommy," Spencer whispered through a yawn.

Paula smiled, "Love you too sweetie,"

She stood up walked over the door and shut the light off. Turning she saw Glen standing in his doorway, light off in the room behind him, his tired eyes straining to see her. She walked over and grabbed his hand.

He grabbed hers back.

She whispered I love you.

He whispered it back.

She said good night and he said it back.

She went to her room and turned in her doorway to see him still standing in his. She slowly shut her door leaving it cracked open and she saw him do the same, neither ever closed their doors in case Spencer had a bad dream.

Changing into her pajamas she slid into bed, wrapping the cold covers around her warmer body, with a gently smile gracing her lips she fell asleep with one thought on her mind.

She loved her little copy cats.