Trying to act normal, Casey walked into the arcade and weaved passed the gaming machines to the toilets. Pushing open the paper thin door, she walked in and turned back to check for a lock. There wasn’t one. Gritting her teeth and not allowing herself to double over in pain, she went to the last cubical. Locking the door behind her, she dropped her bag before stripping off her shoes, leggings, skirt and underwear.

Sitting down on the toilet, Casey double over and wrapped her arms around her stomach. Pain shot through her and she noted that the contractions had multiplied and got stronger. Districting herself, Casey thought about the best ways to do this and as her mind began to form a list, she recalled a news story she had read online; Baby Found In Toilet U-bend –Japan. It had been a baby boy, if she recalled correctly and they had had to cut him out with a chainsaw.

I can’t let that happened, she thought and eased herself up. Liquid suddenly rushed down her legs, she tried to look, believing she had only wet herself, but a wave of pain rushed through her and she had to sit back down. Wrapping her arms around herself in a hug and rocking, Casey guessed her waters had broken. She tried to remember what she had read about this stage on the pregnancy websites, but nothing came to her.

Taking a deep breath and holding it, she tried not to cry or make a sound. She didn’t want to be caught and though the arcade had looked pretty empty, she couldn’t trust that no one would come in here. Letting go of the breath, Casey tried to relax and found the wave of pain dying down. She took in another breath and smelt the seaside, alongside lemon bathroom cleaner. Keeping up the breathing and starting to count, as she remembered from the internet, she wished she was somewhere else right now.

Even as she started thinking about that, she realised that for the last two months her mind had all ready been made up about coming back here. It had started here, hadn’t it? Casey glanced around, trying to remember back nine months whilst managing the pain. There was graffiti on the walls and door, though she couldn’t focus on the letters and numbers, it looked like typical stuff to her. Pulling her head up, she focused on the words at her eye line; Benny is a pedo, she read and the one below it, Fancy a good time? Call me and then a half scratched out phone number.

Casey turned away and shut her eyes as the pain swelled in her lower stomach and she felt like she was going to explode. She had the urge to press down, but wasn’t sure if she actually should do. That thought was overridden and she found herself squeezing down. Gasping for breath, her hands hit the cubical walls and tried to find something to hold on to. Realising there was nothing, she pushed against the walls instead and let out a loud moan.

She regretted that straight away, but had no choice as the pushing urge came again. Praying no one could hear her, Casey let it all out and screamed loudly. Fighting for breath afterwards, she relaxed and felt a little bit better. The pain was still bashing against her like stormy sea waves on a lighthouse. Standing up, she squatted on the floor in front of the toilet and reached for her bag.

Unzipping it, she pulled out a beach towel and with some difficult placed it underneath her. It was at that moment, she noticed the blood covering her inner thighs. Is that normal? God I hope it is, she prayed. Remembering to breathe, she tried to think what else she needed to do, but once her again her mind was blank. Her body had become fully centred on the birth.

Casey had no idea of the time passing, just that the pain seemed unbearable and utterly consuming. When the urge to push came, she went with it and tried not to think about the sticky wetness covering her skin and the towel.

She didn’t even feel the head sliding out of her. One minute the towel was empty the next, it was full of baby. Hearing the gasping crying, she looked down and saw that she wasn’t alone. Tears blurred her vison and she quickly wiped them away on the back of her hand. Looking down, she saw him covered in blood and his face screwed up in crying. She wrapped the towel around him and tried to rub him down with it, but there wasn’t enough room.

Slowly and carefully standing up, she lowered herself onto the toilet and then picked him up. He was heavy then she thought he was going to be. Pressing him to her bare chest, she tried to quieten him. His crying seemed louder than her moaning had been, she could risk being caught more than ever now.

‘I’m sorry,’ Casey whispered to him, ‘I didn’t know what to do. I can’t keep you.’

His crying seemed to soften and she took the edge of the towel and rubbed it across his head and a face.

‘You came from here,’ she said with a glance around, ‘well, it happened here. Or in the next toilet. I can’t remember. I was drunk and it was raining. I was with my friends and we meet some boys on the beach. It was late but the arcade was still open. Nothing was meant to happen….’

She looked down at him and touched his tiny hand.

‘I can’t stay,’ she muttered.

Casey walked out of the arcade pulling down her skirt and with her bag slung over one shoulder. Behind her, she thought she heard him crying. The urge to turn back and pick him up again tugged at her. She almost did it, but upon turning her head away, she saw her bus coming down the road. Walking over as fast as she could, she felt like she was leaving a part of herself behind. Standing at the bus stop, she hugged herself and tried not to think about it anymore. The bus pulled up, she got on and found a seat at the back. Staring out of window, she watched the rain falling into the sea.