Chapter 1: The day her childhood ended

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Lilly had a relatively normal childhood up until the age of six, well apart from having a brother twelve years her senior who seemed to hate her and coming from a single parent background.  Her mother worked three jobs just to keep them afloat and Lilly despite not getting to spend as much time with her mother as she would have liked loved her more than anything as she knew her mum worked so hard for her and her brother and was desperate to give them both a bright future out of poverty and a life full of opportunities she never had.  Lilly's mother woke at 4 am daily to go to the first job she did seven days a week - a cleaner for a legal firm that she did from 5 am to 7 am then she would come home and wake Lilly up for school, make her pack lunch and walk her to school every morning so they could spend time together. After the morning school run Lilly's mum would go to her second job as a waitress that started at 9 am that she did five days a week and she would have a break 3 pm - 4 pm to collect Lilly from school and walk her home making sure she got there safely before she headed back to the waitress job that she finished at 6 pm.  Lilly's mum's third job was the one  Lilly hated the most as she could see it made her mum the most tired and her mum's boss at that job was creepy. Lilly's mum's third job was as a bartender and she worked in a club in town from 7 pm until 1 is six nights a week.  Lilly's mum was always exhausted from working so hard but she tried not to show it and despite working pretty much 24 hours a day six days a week her mum always made sure she spent time with Lilly whenever she could, she also despite them being in sever poverty made sure Lilly and her brother were always well dressed and had a homemade meal on the table every night and that they went to bed with their stomachs filled,  even if it meant she would often lie and tell Lily she had already eaten and go without she was an amazing mum or in Lily's opinion the best mum in the world and despite not having much they had each other and they were happy; Until the night it all changed. Lilly's mum came to collect her from school, Lilly noticed her mum was quieter than usual but she just assumed her mum was tired and so she decided she would make dinner for her mum tonight so it was one less thing her mum had to do - it wouldn't be anything incredible like her mummy cooked just cheese on toast and a bowl of soup but considering she was only six and not an adult and wasn't allowed to use the stove or oven she was sure her mum would appreciate the gesture.  " You look tired Mummy, I know why .. " Lilly's mum looked at Lilly in shock.  " What is it you know princess ?" Lilly's mum asked as she bent down in front of her. " You don't want me to know in case I worry.... but it's okay Mummy, I know you are very tired because you work so hard to take care of me and Jason and you must have worked extra hard today because you look very tired and your trying not to show it so I don't worry about you working so hard, it's okay mummy if you're tired I will look after you. " Lilly smiled up at her mum with her innocent and kind eyes and her mum blinked away her tears and returned her daughter's smile. " You're such a good girl Lilly and you're so kind, I am so proud of you." Her mum said as she bent down in front of her and held her hands.  " Promise me you'll always be kind, the world isn't always nice but people like you with a kind heart make it a better place. " Lilly's mum urged as a few tears slipped from her eyes. "Don't cry mummy, I promise! " Lilly replied not understanding why her mum was sad but not liking it. " I am sorry Lilly I am just so proud of you and I love you so much, always remember how much I love you okay ?" Her mum urged in a strange tone that almost sounded like a goodbye. " Okay mummy but you're silly! I don't need to remember because you'll always be there to remind me! " Lilly said as she hugged her mum tightly and Lilly's mum hugged her daughter even tighter wishing what she said was true. Lilly and her mum made their way home and her mum even let them stop playing in the park and get ice cream. " This is the best day ever !!! " Lilly screamed in between her giggles as her mum chased her around the park, she was so happy when her mum told her she wasn't going to work in the restaurant or bar tonight and instead of her, Lilly and her brother would have a family night. The fact she got to spend extra time with her mum made her so happy not even the thought of her brother being at home all night could ruin her happy mood at that minute, however, Lilly's mood would soon change as her mum told Lilly and her brother her secret later that night. Lilly and her mum had a girls afternoon, her mum had done Lilly's hair and painted her nails and Lilly had attempted to do her mums although admittedly they didn't look as nice as Lilly's nails that her mum did, her mum said she loved them just the same and made Lilly smile. After their girl's afternoon Lilly and her mum made Lilly's favorite, homemade lasagne with homemade garlic bread and Lilly's mum had after an hour of calling and texting finally got hold of Lilly's brother who after Lilly's mum begging profusely had promised he would be home within the hour.  Lilly and her mum were sat at the table waiting on her brother who was at least half an hour late when they heard the front door slam - he was finally home.  Lilly hated her brother. At only six she should be too young to hate anyone but she did hate him, he was 18 he should be either at school studying hard or working to help their mum he refused to do either. He would sleep all day as their mum got up ridiculously early to do everything around the house since Lilly was too young to help do the cooking or washing or she would and then her mum worked herself to the bone whilst her brother instead of working to help took whatever food was in the fridge, made a mess of the house and then went out all night with his friends drinking, partying and on a few occasions getting into trouble with the police. Their mum had tried everything to try and help him, she had tried signing him up to college and he didn't attend, she found him a job and he was fired for not turning up, she tried begging him to change telling him how it broke her heart that he was wasting his life and all he did was laugh at her and she had tried tough love kicking him out when he was 17 and he came home with a black eye claiming he was attacked and emotionally blackmailed her into taking him back in. He was no doubt a disappointment to their mum and caused her constant stress and worry, he was not grateful to her at all and did nothing to help and that's why Lilly hated him, not the fact he bullied her on hit her a few times when their mum was out, Lilly hated him because of the way he treated their mum. " Jason, thank you for coming home tonight. "  Their mum said as she went to hug him and he pushed her away rolling his eyes before he threw his bag across the room and answered, " well you didn't give me a choice by harassing me with tonnes of calls and texts and then embarrassing me with your begging that my friends heard."  Lilly went bright red with anger, how dare he speak to their mum like that!  " I am sorry if I embarrassed you love, but you've been out nearly every night this week already and I thought it would be nice to spend some family time ." Their mum said smiling at him hoping her calmness would soothe his anger.  " I didn't know there was a limit on the amount of time I was allowed to spend with my friends, besides what's so nice about being stuck inside this crappy depressing house with my mum and bratty little sister ?" Jason huffed. " Jason, they aren't good friends they get you into trouble and are a bad crowd to hang around with ..." Their mum started to reply but was interrupted by Jason " what are you a probation officer or something ?! " He sulked. " No Jason I am your mother and it's my job to look after you and as for the rest of your rude declaration, yes I know this house may not be filled with flash gadgets or fancy furniture like some of your friends but it has everything you need in it, it provides a safe and dry roof over your head and it always has food on the table and clean clothes in your wardrobe- it may not be lavish but its serves the essentials and is clean, safe and warm and it's a lot more than some people have- you should be grateful. " Jason snorted and Lilly began to cry upset that her brother could be so ungrateful and cruelly mock everything their mum worked so hard to provide for them. " And Jason I get your a teenager and your mum and sister aren't as cool as your friends but we are your family and family is very important you should treasure it always as one day your family will not be here. " Their mum said sadly and Jason burst out laughing cruelly. " Oh please mum where are you going to go? You can't even afford the bus to work every day and have to walk six miles each way, have you suddenly won the lottery and are planning on going on holiday and leaving me mmm? " He mocked. " Why are you so horrible !!! "  Lilly screamed not able to control her temper any more at the way he was speaking to their mum. " SHUT IT BRAT !! " Jason screamed at Lilly as his face contorted with anger and disgust. " THAT'S ENOUGH JASON, SIT DOWN !!! "   Their mum shouted and Jason looked at her in shock before begrudgingly complying and sitting down.  " I am sorry I shouted, please can we just eat dinner and enjoy spending time as a family? I love you BOTH so much and just want to enjoy spending time with you both whilst I can ."  Their mum said apologizing for her unusual display of temper and looking at both her children with a mixture of sadness and love. " Well maybe if you didn't work all the time you would see us more but I am hungry so as long as you don't expect me to help cook or clean up after sure ." Jason sighed and Lilly glared at her brother before replying to her mum " Sure mummy, let me help you get dinner heated up ."  Lilly went to the kitchen and helped her mum reheat the food then went to set the table whilst her brother put his feet up on the table moaning about how long they were taking. Once they had finished dinner just before Lilly went to clear the table and Jason could disappear to his room their mum stopped them knowing she had to get it over with and tell them her secret.  " Please both of you sit down I have something I need to tell you, please Jason sit ."  Their mum said reaching out and gently pulling his wrist as he was getting ready to walk away and ignore her.  " Fine. " Jason sulked " Get on with it then I don't have all night... just spit it out already, what have you been fired? You're pregnant? Oh wait .. your dying? " Jason mocked getting annoyed by his mum's silence however when he said you're dying his sarcastic expression faded slightly as he noticed his mum tense. " STOP BEING SO HORRIBLE TO MUM !! " Lilly shouted at her brother again trying to defend her mum. " It's an okay sweetheart. " Their mum hugged Lilly tightly soothing her and looked Jason in the eye replying " No Jason I am not dying.. but I am sick. I have cancer ."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
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